Review: The Breakfast Club

Bend diner serves solid morning, mid-day fare

By John Gottberg Anderson / For The Bulletin

Published Feb 21, 2014 at 12:11AM

The Breakfast Club

Location: 378 N.E. Greenwood Ave., Bend

Hours: 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday to Saturday, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday

Price range: Breakfast $5.10 to $14.05, lunch $4.35 to $10.80

Credit cards: Discover, MasterCard, Visa

Kids’ menu: On request

Vegetarian menu: Salad and sandwich options

Alcoholic beverages: No

Outdoor seating: Seasonal patio

Reservations: No

Contact: 541-312-8393, www.facebook.com

Scorecard

OVERALL: B

Food: B. Never adventurous, sometimes inconsistent, but regulars seem to love it.

Service: A. Experienced servers are fast, efficient and always ready with a friendly word.

Atmosphere: C. As simple as it comes, with booths, bar stools and a full-wall mirror.

Value: B+. Prices are moderate for the solid portions served.

One of the great things about having a strong regular clientele is that, while the patrons will miss you while you’re gone, they’ll be waiting at the door like faithful dogs the moment you return.

When The Breakfast Club was forced to close for two weeks in January after a coffee line burst and flooded the restaurant, the little Bend cafe didn’t find its regulars straying far.

Lori George, who has owned the cafe since 2002 with her mother, Rose Byram, said about 80 gallons of water had to be pumped from the building before customers could be welcomed back.

But there they were, anxious to return to their go-to spot for simple but hearty breakfasts and reliable, grilled luncheon sandwiches.

The 44-seat restaurant — nine booths sit beside windows on North East Greenwood Avenue and Fourth Street, while single diners belly up on eight bar stools — attracts a clientele that is largely, though not exclusively, senior. Classic rock music plays softly in the background. A full-wall mirror appears to double the size of the cafe.

Two and sometimes three experienced servers attend patrons with a wink and a smile, delivering dishes with relative haste and returning often to refill coffee cups and water glasses.

A morning meal

Perhaps in deference to older diners, food at The Breakfast Club is not heavily spiced or seasoned; there’s salt and pepper on every table for those who desire them. But the consequence is a lack of adventure in the dining experience.

Many dishes come out tasting flat. Some diners may be delighted. Others, not so much.

I loved the three-egg Denver omelet that I had for breakfast one day with my dining companion. Sure, it needed salt and pepper — but what impressed me was the generous portions of ham, onions, chopped green peppers and jack cheese with which it was filled. In fact, there are 13 omelets on the cafe’s menu, and 18 additional breakfast choices, not including griddle items (pancakes, French toast) and a list of options for “smaller appetites.”

Breakfasts are served with a choice of pancakes or potatoes and thick-cut toast. Going with the latter option, I was disappointed in my hash browns. Although they clearly had not come out of a frozen-food package, and had been freshly chopped in-house, they had been sauteed in far too much oil. When I complained to our server, she blamed a “new cook” (my omelet, she said, had been prepared by “the other cook”) and took the cost of coffee off our bill.

My companion was not as pleased with her order as I had been with my omelet. She felt as if her corned beef hash — a much more modest portion than that of my breakfast — had not been freshly prepared, and the poached eggs that topped it had been cooked too long, so that the yolk didn’t run.

On the other hand, three accompanying buttermilk pancakes were fluffy and delicious. Served with syrup, they were a far better choice than my potatoes had been.

Lunchtime

My lunch, like my breakfast, was simple but unspectacular. Yet for the most part, I was very satisfied.

I began with a cup of the soup of the day, a vegetable-beef blend with white rice. Simmered in a light beef broth were small, tender chunks of meat with freshly chopped carrot, celery and onion. It was served with a packet of saltines, which I left unopened.

My Reuben sandwich had all the right elements of this classic sandwich — stacked slices of lean corned beef with sauerkraut, sandwiched between two slices of Swiss cheese, then perfectly grilled in buttered, light-rye bread. Thousand Island dressing (or Russian, if you prefer) was presented in a cup on the side. I would have liked the Reuben better if the kraut had more of a peppery, vinegary bite.

A house-made potato salad was delicious. An ample portion of thinly sliced red potatoes, skin on, were seasoned with green onions and thyme, then blended in a dressing of German mustard and mayonnaise and topped with a black olive. Slightly tangy, it had more depth of flavor than other dishes at The Breakfast Club.

But a good-sized Cobb salad left my companion disappointed, no thanks to the primary ingredient, iceberg lettuce, having crunch but little taste. The best part of this salad was the substitution of freshly grilled chicken for the usual breaded chicken strips, which the kitchen had run out of.

Chopped bacon, tomatoes and red onions finished the salad, along with a slice hard-boiled egg and two shredded cheeses, cheddar and jack. A bit of red cabbage and carrot were mixed with the lettuce for added color. Blue cheese dressing and wedges of focaccia bread were presented on the side, along with a few pickle slices, which really didn’t seem to belong.

I’m always glad to return to The Breakfast Club for simple omelets and sandwiches, along with solid, friendly service. But I’ve learned not to expect anything very fancy.

— Reporter: janderson@ bendbulletin.com

SMALL BITES

A couple of small cafes to put on your Redmond radar:

Bliss Baking Co. is the vegetarian’s best friend. The daily menu, always under $10, includes soups, salads, pizzas and vegan entrees — recently including a salad of quinoa, kale, dried cranberries and toasted almonds. Freshly baked pastries and Bom Dia coffee lure a breakfast crowd. Open 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Tuesday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. 528 S.W. Sixth St., Redmond; 541-316-1614, www.bliss bakincompany.com.

Across the street, AK’s Tea Room, a British-style cafe, serves daily high tea by reservation, along with other teas, salads and sandwiches. Open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. 525 S.W. Sixth St., Redmond; 541-526-5522, www.facebook.com.

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