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Apr 20, 2008 04:02 PM

Brunching on Eggs Benedict in Austin

I lived in Spain last year and spent the whole year without a single decent brunch. Evidently, the Spanish don’t brunch. The only brunch we had was at a hotel that catered to tourists. It was okay but not great. Eggs benedict is nonexistent. After living in a Mediterranean paradise, I wasn’t looking forward to moving to Austin, however, I was salivating over the idea of having an American style brunch of eggs benedict. So far, I haven’t found the perfect eggs benedict or brunch spot in Austin. Though today I came pretty close, The Eastside Café.

This morning I slept in until around noon. Upon awakening I made a reservation for two at 2:00 pm at The Eastside Café. The woman who took our reservation was extremely pleasant. We got to the restaurant a little early but were promptly seated. The café is in an old house. It is quaint without being fussy. There were many people seated around us but the acoustics were such that we were able to speak at a normal level. The waitress was friendly and prompt.

My husband and I, both ordered the eggs benedict. It comes with a blueberry bran muffin; but I asked for a blueberry blintz instead. When our order arrived it was extremely hot. The eggs benedict comes with potatoes. The potatoes were so hot I had to wait a few minutes to eat them. Some might disagree; but I like it when my food comes out of the kitchen hot. The eggs benedict was good but not great. The hollandaise sauce was a little neutral tasting. I prefer mine a little more lemony and a touch more salty. The potatoes were served without salt. All in all, I would have liked to have had more salt. I shared my blintz and had half of my husbands extremely small, scone looking, muffin. The muffin was good but like I said very small. The blintz was divine. It wasn’t cloyingly sweet or dense like some others I’ve had. The filling was akin in consistency to the filling in Beard Papas cream puffs, extremely light. The blueberry topping was full of blueberry flavor with just a little added sugar. After the meal, I had a cup of excellent coffee. I never felt rushed. I was pretty pleased with The Eastside Café and will definitely give it another try.

Other places we’ve tried have been only fair:

We’ve gone to the Magnolia Café South many times. It’s near our house and sort of a “no brainer”. The eggs benedict is good but I don’t care for the potatoes. The eggs benedict comes with a fruit cup. Several times my fruit cup has had sliced orange with peel and a glued on sticker. I wondered if they had washed the oranges before they cut them up and put them in my fruit cup. The atmosphere at Magnolia is okay; but it sometimes looks a little dirty and oftentimes they play the music very loudly. One Sunday we waited for 45mins for a table (they don’t take reservations). I never order coffee there anymore; It’s just terrible. The pluses are: better eggs benedict and slightly cheaper than Eastside.

Two Sundays ago we went to The Counter Café. I was very excited about it because my husband loves diners. The servers were nice and efficient. I had The Counter Benedict which is eggs benedict with pastrami served over a biscuit. The biscuit was very sweet. It was an interesting dish. I won’t say that I hated it but probably wouldn’t order it again. We didn’t stay for coffee because we couldn’t wait to leave. Throughout our meal we heard the clanging and scraping of dishes and pans. It was loud and jarring. I thought it was kind of on the expensive side for a dineresq sort of place.

Once, we tried the South Congress Café. I saw online that they serve brunch everyday until 4pm. (A side note: I find it surprising that places here in Austin stop serving brunch at 2pm.) The atmosphere is modern casual. The presentation was beautiful. The waitress was nice. The eggs benedict was so-so. It was served with a potato pancake that was sort of lukewarm. I didn’t find it that tasty. It was nice to look at though. I doubt if I would go back. The eggs benedict wasn’t that expensive; but other things on the menu were a little pricey.

On occasion, when we’ve been eating with a large group, we’ve brunched at North by Northwest.
They don’t serve eggs benedict but have a dish called poached eggs which is similar. It’s eggs benedict served on a crab cake instead of a English muffin. I hail from the land of crab cakes, and the crab cake in this dish isn’t up to par. I think the frying oil is not hot enough because it’s always very greasy. Why do I keep ordering it? Because I keep thinking they’re going to get it right. It’s pretty good otherwise. It’s a lot of food. It’s served with a big banana nut muffin and fruit. The coffee is fine and the service is good. I think I’d rather go at night and sample beer and eat hors d'oeuvres.

I haven’t heard and or read about any other good places. I like to keep my eggs benedict under $10. Cheap, ain’t I? I’d love to know what you think...

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  1. I love the eggs benedict at 1886 Cafe in the Driskill Hotel. It costs more than $10 but I think its worth the splurge

    2 Replies
    1. re: mlin1

      I went to the 1886 Café a couple of weeks ago. I had the Paris, Texas Benedict which is served on a croissant, with sliced ham, brie cheese and lots of hollandaise and thought it was great. My only problem was the price. It was $11 and didn’t include any sides. I sat inside and liked the atmosphere, old timey. A regular cup of coffee is $2.50; but I guess that's the price you pay if you eat in a hotel restaurant.

      1. re: Helind

        I also had really good eggs benedict there. The best were at the Hyatt Regency. They were done on a cornbread muffin and I think it came with chorrizo on it and a hint of chipotle in the hollandaise. A really nice, spicy, Southwestern style, with home fries.

    2. You might very much like this, the Four Seasons in Austin just started a special Eggs Benedict brunch menu in their Lobby Lounge on Sundays. They feature a few different varitals on the classic and also offer variations on the bloody mary. Enjoy!

      1 Reply
      1. re: gulch

        I recently looked up the price of this brunch at Trio at The Four Seasons. It's $45 per person. Looks great though.

      2. The original comment has been removed
        1. While I have not tried their traditional eggs benedict, Zax Pints and Plates has a weekend brunch from 11-3 that includes Zax Eggs, which substitutes a crab cake for the english muffin, and is quite delicious.

          1. re: El General

            Just got back from Sunday brunch at Zax Pints and Plates. I have to admit I was skeptical. Eating brunch in a bar seemed weird to me. I don’t know why, but looking at the outside of the building, it seemed like it would be dark and oppressive inside. I decided to give it a try because of your recommendation El General. And, I really liked it. I had the traditional eggs benedict ($10). It was very good. I liked the creamy thick hollandaise sauce, and the eggs and english muffin were just right. It came with my choice of cheese grits, fresh tomato, or potatoes. I chose the potatoes. They could have been a little hotter and saltier. My husband ordered the benedict with the tomato side, only three slices, but ripe and tasty. We also had two cups of fresh coffee ($1.50). I was very pleased with the food and the coffee. The interior is spacious with high ceilings and lots of light. I prefer the atmosphere at The Eastside Café a little more; but, Zax is pleasant. Our waiter, was friendly, attentive and efficient, though a little soft spoken. I made reservations this morning around 10am but didn’t need to. There were lots of tables available 1pm. That could have been because it is the first day of football season. Thanks El General. That was satisfying.

            1. re: Helind

              Went to Zax again last Sunday. It was still good but crowded and noisier, we only had to wait about 5 mins for a table though.

              1. re: Helind

                We went to Zax on Saturday. It wasn't very crowded at all a little after noon-ish. I haven't ordered Eggs Benedict around town, so I can't compare to others. But, I did love the Eggs Benedict at Zax. My eggs were perfectly poached, and that Hollandaise sauce was really delicious. I think I tasted a little white pepper in it? I ordered cheese grits with mine, which I liked, but they aren't exceptional. My husband got the Banana Bread French Toast... and that was out of this world! Makes me wonder why we don't do brunch more often.

              2. re: Helind

                Just a little follow up on Zax, now that I have been there more than a few times. The eggs benedict is a little inconsistent but never bad. It comes with choice of potatoes, grits, or tomato. I recommend skipping all of those and getting the french fries instead as a substitute. The best thing about it is that it's never crowded for brunch and never too loud. It's the place we go when we haven't managed to make a reservation or don't want to wait for an hour.

              3. re: El General

                I don't know what's going on with the kitchen at Zax. I've had several bad brunch experiences lately. I can no longer recommend it.

            2. You and I have the same tastes when it comes to Eggs Benedict. I would suggest you try Starlight. It's my favorite with Eastside coming in second.

              2 Replies
              1. re: amysuehere

                I'm gonna have to disagree on the Starlite. Went today and had one of the worst brunches in my life. Both the food and the service were unpleasant experiences.

                1. Vespaio Enoteca is my favorite in town. I'm not sure if it under 10, it might be slightly more. Don't arrive after 1pm, it gets horrendously busy and sometimes the staff just gets overloaded.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: jonclegg

                    I'll second enoteca, although it uses a brown butter sauce instead of a standard hollandaise. It's perfectly savory and the eggs aren't overcooked(unless you're unlucky). The roasted tomato, caramelized yukon gold potatoes and sauted spinach that come on the side are delicious as well. Beyond that, their prime rib hash, polenta and the Crespelle are also very tasty.
                    $10 even