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Mark Gallucci

The Breakfast Club
By B.A. Nilsson

Beverly’s
47 Phila St., Saratoga Springs, 583-2755. Serving daily 8 AM-3 PM. AE, D, DC, MC, V.

Food: * * *½
Service: Prompt
Ambience: Pleasant

The rural community I call home puts on a pancake supper every Election Day (you can check it out this Tuesday), a once-a-year chance to have breakfast at sunset. Not that this is a foreign concept to everyone: Musicians, over-the-road drivers, anyone whose livelihood upends the diurnal norm knows the pleasure of tucking into a plate of ham and eggs while others grill steaks and roast chickens.

How did particular foodstuffs—or foodstuff forms—come to define breakfast? Back in the Middle Ages, meals defined status, and breakfast for the nobles was a skimpy thing because a formal dinner was served at around noon. Supper appeared after sunset because they could afford lighting; the peasants had to dine during daylight, and, what with a busy daily workload, tended toward heartier fare first thing in the morning.

Before 1800, breakfast might have included toast or gruel or some manner of porridge, and got fancier only if there were guests to impress. Thereafter, it grew to include cold meat, cheese and beer, although the English added omelettes, ox tongue, fruit, biscuits and tea, an array that has proven too excessive to remain common in-home fare, and became featured instead in hotels and restaurants.

Credit colonists with puffing pancakes. The French model, crepes, were unleavened, but American settlers helped popularize the idea of making cakes and, eventually, waffles out of the batter, topped, of course, with maple syrup and honey.

As a culinary art, breakfast doesn’t enjoy the same rarefied renown as dinner entrées, yet the most revealing test of a chef is an omelette—and I worked for a chef who wasn’t bashful about putting job applicants through those egg-prep paces.

When you’re looking for those two eggs with a side of sausage and toast, you can usually count on a diner to serve it up fairly inexpensively, but it’s anybody’s guess how that hen fruit will be treated once it hits the pan. I’ve seen what’s supposed to be scrambled eggs look more like aging spackle; likewise, putative omelettes can emerge with the look and feel of mailing envelopes.

My daughter was in a breakfasty mood the other afternoon at Beverly’s, and ordered two eggs, scrambled, with pork sausage and home fries ($6.75), and toasted peasant bread. “Keep ’em loose,” I was instructed when learning to scramble, and this, fortunately, is what you get at Beverly’s. They’re not runny, but they haven’t turned into sculpture.

Opened 13 years ago on busy Phila Street in downtown Saratoga, Beverly’s first positioned itself as a specialty foods store with a café on the side. The retail end of the operation is gone now, and Beverly Reedy’s son, Michael Bowman, now owns and runs the operation with an occasional hand from his mother. There have been occasional flirtations with dinner service, but for now the restaurant operates daily with a breakfast-and-lunch menu that has won a loyal following—and impressive crowds at events like Skidmore Parents’ Weekend and Travers day. Even better, there’s a patio for comfy outdoor dining when the season is right.

We visited in the middle of the day in the middle of the week and found a few others enjoying a late lunch. The brief menu offers traditional breakfast and lunch food, with egg dishes, pancakes, waffles, sandwiches and salads comprising most of the fare. A specials board lists the day’s coffee flavors (they take their joe seriously here), fruit dish (a strawberry autumn blend when we were there), omelette of the day (tomato, cheddar, pepper), quiche (salmon, dill and Swiss cheese) and soup.

I tried a cup of the sweet potato bisque ($3) served very hot and pleasantly thick, with potato chunks to vary the texture. That and a salad would have been meal enough, but my need to research drove me to also order a frittata with mushrooms, broccoli and herbed chèvre ($7). Frittatas are open-faced omelettes, Italian in origin, dotted at the top, pizza-like, with the added ingredients. With accompanying sourdough toast, it was a very satisfying meal.

My wife, Susan, more committed to lunch, ordered a sandwich, but no ordinary concoction was this. Grilled eggplant was squeezed between toasted sourdough slices, with lightly sautéed spinach, onion slices, Swiss cheese and a sundried tomato mayonnaise to finish the architecture ($9). She chose their homemade potato salad as a side dish and was able to wrap half the sandwich for an at-work dinner later in the day.

Seating is comfortable and service is attentive, headed by Bowman’s sister, Kimberlie Till, who filled me in on the restaurant’s history. You can dine at the counter or choose a table, and a big part of the pleasure is Bowman’s eclectic choice of vintage music.

Breakfast/lunch for three, with tax and tip and a couple of drinks, was $36.

TABLE SCRAPS


“To the resident of New York, Paris, or London, the word DEATH is never pronounced because it burns the lips. Mexicans, on the other hand, frequent it, caress it, they sleep with it, they celebrate it, it is one of their favorite games and their most permanent love.” So wrote Octavio Paz, and the culmination of this is Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos), which will be celebrated at the Mexican Connection (41 Nelson Ave., Saratoga Springs) tomorrow (Friday) and Saturday (Nov. 1 and 2). Traditional Mexican fare (with guacamole made to order), more than 70 fine tequila choices and many Mexican beers will be available. Guitarist Maria Zemantauski will perform both nights. The restaurant is open daily at 4 PM for dinner, closing only on Tuesdays. For more info and reservations, call 584-4466. . . . It’s been eight years at Quackenbush Square for Nicole’s Bistro (Clinton Avenue and Broadway, Albany), and 18 years in business. What better reason for a party? It’ll begin at 6:15 PM Thursday, Nov. 14, with a champagne reception, followed by a four-course dinner paired with Loire region wines. It’s $65 per person and seating is by reservation only, so call 465-1111 to reserve your places. . . . Remember to pass your scraps to Metroland (e-mail food@banilsson.com).

—B.A.N.

(Please fax info to 922-7090)

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