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Morning Glory -- Why the Hype?

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  • Susan H Nov 25, 2003 09:32 AM
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Had breakfast this morning at the much-touted Morning Glory Diner (11th and Catherine or thereabouts). I ordered a frittata with roasted peppers, mushrooms, and cheddar, and Ed ordered the tofu scramble. After a very long wait (especially for a diner), I got a very large, very puffy souffle-like thing that was about 99% egg, with some mediocre cheese melted on top and a few mushrooms and peppers burned into the bottom. The potatoes were large unseasoned chunks of potato (maybe that's why they put hot sauce on the table). There was a little cup of cooked apple chunks. And a very good "biscuit" that looked like crumb cake but tasted like an excellent biscuit. I ate very little of any of this (except the biscuit) -- at least the waiter agreed that there were insufficient "ingredients" and took it off the bill. Ed's tofu scramble was interesting (sauteed lettuce, peppers (very few) and tomatoes with chunks of soft tofu and lots of curry seasoning), with the same potatoes, apples, and biscuit. The tea is Lipton and not quite hot enough. Ed says the coffee is OK. It's $7 for the frittata and $6 for the tofu. I'm not going back. Brunch at Judy's Cafe is 10 times better.

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  1. Agree. Their food is way too salty (even the pancakes) so I spend the rest of the day gulping water. And the metal coffee cups are really annoying. No reason to wait forever to eat there.

    1. Well, once upon a time, the restaurant was worth the hype and the wait to get a table. Now, it's just another place to go once in a while. I totally agree with your assessment - the food isn't the best and the time it takes to get your food is too long. I'm not sure what's happened with this place, other than the owner, Sam, now has two children, and must not be working in the restaurant much at all. The eggs used to be superb - frittas were always packed full of ingredients, the scrambled eggs so fluffy and creamy and loaded onto your plate. There were always a few misses, sometimes the food would be over cooked. I guess that's due to a tempermental cook and oven/stove. Over the years the staff has changed (like in any restaurant) and the inconsistency really shows. It's too bad really. It almost seems like the whole place has rested too long on its laurels. Now the competition has increased thanks to Sabrina's in the Italian Market (check out the stuffed french toast). What would be great is if The Morning Glory would get a much need shot of adreneline and pump itself back up to its former glory.

      1. My husband and I ate weekend brunch at Morning Glory twice in the past 2 weeks and really enjoyed it! In contrast to the other posters, my frittata was hearty and delicious and full of vegetables and cheese. Our potatoes were full of flavor, and boy was that biscuit good! My husband had a pecan waffle with peach butter that was sweet and tasty. Our friends also devoured their meals and were quite happy.

        We moved to the Phila area after living in both Baltimore and New York and found Morning Glory to be as good as our favorite diner brunch places in both cities.

        Maybe they have different cooks who are uneven??

        1 Reply
        1. re: GBNYC

          We went on a weekday. The place was practically empty, and it still took close to 1/2 hour to get our lousy frittata. This was third string at best.

        2. i am reviving a 5-year old thread because this one shares my views more than any other i could find. up early this morning, we decided to see what the world had to offer for breakfast, so we went out on our bikes and ended up at morning glory.

          let me start off by saying i am a *very* picky breakfast person. breakfast is a very simple meal and it's really hard to go wrong and easy to make at home, so anything less than excellent and i'm wondering why people go. i make damn good pancakes, french toast and oats at home and i'm looking for places that can show me up. in my entire life there are three places that make the cut: north third for french toast (and omelettes, but i was never very good with omelettes), fish tank on main (in manayunk, now closed) for fritatas (no idea why people eat the ones at le bus across the street), and a small place in big sur, CA whose oats are tied with mine. honorable mention to the belgian cafe in fairmount for their beer mimosas. that's it. other than that, i've been more or less disappointed with breakfasts and brunches everywhere. that's not to say there's been an OK one here and there, but that's just not good enough. OK, so i'll get off my breakfast high horse and tell you what i thought.

          we had: coffee (no complaints, though the metal mugs are weird and take some of the fun out of sipping coffee), tofu scramble, challah french toast. very simple things. i know i have complained about subpar french toasts at other popular breakfast eateries but this was the first french toast that was just downright bad. poor quality dry bread. cheap oversweetened strawberry puree. this may have been the first time in history i did not finish my french toast. it was 9:30am by this point, and i figured whatever i'd have for lunch couldn't be worse than this thus was worth saving myself for (lunch, btw, was vietnam palace which was yummy as usual!). the tofu scramble just tasted like straight up cumin and little else. it lacked any complex flavors or depth. never has something been so flavory (i didn't want to use the word flavorful so i made up my own word) yet so boring! ergh, that's really hard to describe. it needed something... either a more balanced spice mixture, or something 'meatier' - seitan, egg, even cream or aioli somewhere in there would have done the trick... i dunno. it needed something and maybe i should just leave it at that. :) at least the place was cheap.

          so i hate to be the black sheep but the three most hyped breakfast eateries - morning glory, sabrina's, and honey's sit n eat - all get low marks from me. is breakfast just not as good a meal as i think it should be? does anyone agree or do you all just think i am being difficult for the sake of being difficult? :) what AM i missing?!

          back when it was open, i'd try to coax people out to fish tank for their fritatas (yes, their bad name could have been their demise)... and i'll praise north third's brunch to anyone who will listen. but i rarely hear either talked about. i'm really feeling like the odd one out here!

          3 Replies
          1. re: rabidog

            I haven't eaten at any of these places but I do like cooking and eating out, including breakfast. Here's my opinion: being a good cook gives you more insight, but you end up having certain expectations. This is a good thing. I try to order things I don't want to cook at home necessarily like scrapple or maybe ranch style eggs when I find a mexican place that does breakfast. This theory can also appy to service. I've worked as a waitress and also eaten out with a group of servers. It's been my experience that people who work as servers for a living cut other servers a lot of slack when they go out and generally tip better than doctors and lawyers. There have been studies on this. As for the slack? For example they tend to notice right away when a server is being overwhelmed by too many people needing things all at the same time. But when a server is being sloppy, lazy or rude they get even angrier than the average person because of their insider perspective. I don't think you are being difficult. I just think you have a different perspective from cooking a lot at home. Do most chowhounds also do a lot of cooking?

            1. re: givemecarbs

              interesting perspective... i only do a lot of cooking when it comes to breakfast. never figured out why. perhaps because after the wine or beer that come with other meals, cleaning the kitchen afterwards is not high on my list of things to do?

              i'll have to try fitzwater cafe next! i do have a group coming in this weekend (though they'll be without bicycle which makes trucking a large group to south philly difficult) but i'll put it in the list of places for breakfast/brunch. usually we either go to north third or a full plate.

            2. re: rabidog

              I have been reticent to criticize Morning Glory because everyone seems to love it so. Now I realize I'm not alone. After eating there a few times several years ago I saw no point in going back. Ridiculous waits and their pancakes were lousy -- tasted like they were from a mix. Yuck! Carman's and Fitzwater are better neighborhood alternatives. Famous 4th Street has better food as well, though enormous portions.

            3. We went there on a visit to Philadelphia about 2 years ago and we walked away feeling that it was fine, but not really worth making an effort to visit while on vacation! Don't remember what I had, but I do recall my wife having a fritatta that we both thought was just OK.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Rick

                It always amazed me how Morning Glory completes orders one at a time, especially for such a large place. Makes me appreciate why breakfast at the Dutch Eating Place takes ten minutes tops. I never liked the fritattas at Morning Glory but found their french toast to be ok and their homemade ketchup pretty good. And Honey's can be hot-or-miss too. And then there's the wait/heat factor there. Never tried Sabrina's yet...

              2. I love everything about their food. It does say on the menu that you will wait at least 20 minutes for food if you order the fritata and they do always serve the cheese on top. Usually my fritata has a lot of veggies. It's totally up to you, but I would give it another shot.

                1. Well, as long as this breakfast thread has been revived, I'll put in a plug for one of my favorites that's also rarely mentioned....Sunday brunch at Fitzwater Cafe. I almost hate to say it since I'd hate to see it start getting the kind of lines that Sabrina's etc. do. But I really have had wonderful food there. I'm guilty of also liking Sabrina's and Morning Glory, but FC gets my vote as being even better.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: lauracohenromano

                    Yes! Fitzwater is WAY less complex/creative, but much better prepared. I used to live at 6th and Catherine, so close to all the brunch places, and Fitz was the best.
                    I'm now up very close to the new Sabrina's and like you, I hate to mention it, but the menu is exactly the same and the wait is never more than 20 min.

                    I've always been completely un-impressed by Morning Glory. As a southerner, I have to take offense to those ridiculous things they're calling biscuits. The jam is the only reason they're tolerable. And the wait is so long! And that annoyed/over it server. It's never worth it for me.

                    1. re: hollyd

                      I can't say I've had a lot of things at Morning Glory, but they have DAMN fine Mac and Cheese. That's enough for me.

                      1. re: PhillyA

                        I've never had their mac and cheese, but if I find myself there again by some series of circumstances, I'll be sure and order it!

                        1. re: PhillyA

                          I agree that they haven't been awesome in a while--almost like they've just been coasting for years. Their mac and cheese is, I also agree, the best thing they have. The rest--well--go to Sabrina's.