They say you have to break a few eggs to make an omelet. But how many do you have to crack to create a successful chain of brunch cafes? The owners of Another Broken Egg Café are trying to find out.
The family of restaurants that started in Louisiana on the shore of Lake Pontchartrain has expanded across the Southeast and into California with a space on Olive Avenue in Burbank.
Images of a cozy Cajun cafe ruled by a drawling waitress telling you to finish your grits disappear as soon as you walk into the first-floor space in the non-descript Cusumano Plaza office building. The large space isn’t homey by any stretch, though the buttery yellow wainscoting, muted orange and light-green paint and upholstery, and artwork featuring flowers and fruit, offer some warmth. The friendly and helpful wait staff offers more.
The food is what gives the cafe its hint of Southern flavor. The breakfast-to-lunch menu ranges from down home to uptown, from grits to grilled Cajun tuna.
It’s a good sign when a Louisiana-born joint offers beignets—pillows of fried dough dusted in powdered sugar that call up visions of the Cafe du Monde in New Orleans. The café offers biscuit beignets, a hybrid of beignets and hush puppies. The first time we ordered, they came to the table dark and hard after too much time in the fryer. On our next visit, they came out piping hot, cracking open like the egg on the café’s logo, and perfectly crisp on the outside and moist in the middle. It’s worth burning your fingertips to dip them in the accompanying honey-orange marmalade.
Grits on any Southern-flavored menu is another good sign. But blackberry grits? Grits are a delivery device, usually for salt and fat — cheese, butter, bacon, ham. So the fruit seemed questionable. The little ramekin of grits topped with berries did not look promising; in fact it looked a bit like ruined yogurt. But looks can be deceiving. The The sweet pop of the ripe berries and... and the creaminess of the grits made a perfect match.
The Bacquezo, one of 14 omelets offered, is filled with bacon and a bit of cream cheese and topped with scallions, smoky crumbled chorizo and Monterey jack cheese — a great combination. The omelet was about as big as the forearm of the kid who ordered it. Unless you’ve got considerable capacity, this would be an excellent dish to share.
The café offers pancakes, waffles, French toast, cinnamon rolls and a selection of “healthy dishes,” but it’s hard to concentrate on that part of the menu when it sits across from seven versions of eggs Benedict, including choices with steak or smoked salmon. We tried the crabcake cavallo, which turned out to be the only dish we didn’t want to finish. Two perfectly poached eggs sat atop slightly metallic-tasting crab cakes with a Hollandaise sauce not so much infused with as made murky by Andouille sausage.
A later visit found the crab cake fresh-tasting and wonderfully spiced as served in the Southern crab stack on the “specialty brunches” portion of the menu. The cakes balanced on four pieces of French bread, smothered with a light shrimp and Andouille sausage sauce.
The café rounds out lunch with burgers, sandwiches, wraps and salads. The café burger, with caramelized onions, bacon, blue cheese crumbles, sundried tomatoes, basil and garlic mayonnaise, was thick and flavorful. The Cajun tuna sandwich on a Kaiser roll didn’t exactly elicit visions of the bayou, but the fish was thick, medium rare and nicely complemented by smoked tomato mayonnaise, cucumbers, tomato and sprouts.
But where are the po’boys, the rolls filled with fried shrimp or fried catfish, ubiquitous in the bayous of Another Broken Egg’s birth? Maybe that’s the next egg the café will crack.
What: Another Broken Egg Café
Where: 250 E. Olive Ave., Burbank
When: 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily
Prices: $3.69 for grits and $5.29 for beignets to about $14 for crab dishes; omelets and burgers run a little over $10.
Contact: (818) 563-3344
About the writer
Rebecca Bryant is a Los Angeles-area writer whose work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Newsday, Caribbean Travel & Life and other publications.
[Editor's note: This story has been updated from an earlier version.]