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That would be too easy.

When I first came to the US from England one of the things I fell rapturously and instantly in love with (as do many UK tourists while here) is that, at breakfast, one is asked “…and how do you want your eggs?” To the English tourist this is an unaccustomed question. In the UK (other than whether poached or scrambled or soft-boiled i.e. the “genre” of egg style) a fried egg is a fried egg is a fried egg in terms of done-ness. One is not asked how one wants one’s fried egg “done.”

After thirty years in the US I am beginning to wonder whether offering the options is actually not a disservice to the fried egg. Especially in the past ten or fifteen years I have noticed that “over easy” “over medium” or whatever, are far too often being woefully ignored. To my mind, “Over easy” is a euphemism for (in “The Three Bears”’s lingo) “Just Right.”

But in recent times it has been anything but. I think 90% of fried egg eaters want their eggs cooked “Just Right”. It’s what you get in England, without the option for anything else. It is defined as having lots of runny yolk (with maybe a little firmed-up yolk at the edges) but that’s a warmed-thru yolk, a basted (or “over”) white top, and everything cooked sufficiently so that no whites remain in that absolutely awful raw state which reminds you of what an egg really is and is (in recent times) the bane of US diners and fast-order joints NO MATTER what the ordering instructions.

I was just wondering in general terms, three things:

1) Do you agree with my theory that 90% favor “Just Right” fried eggs?

2) Have others noticed that fried eggs are being purveyed in fairly horrible manner these days, much more so than in 20th Century times?

3) Should a default “Just Right” be the unstated default and the only order be other than that “Hard as yellow hockey puck” or “liquid placenta-like whites please” or similar.

I know this is an entirely spurious thought as one is not going to change tradition at this or any other stage, but I travel the country and one thing is guaranteed. Very few places anywhere seem to care one jot about how their eggs are served regardless of what’s on the ticket. My point being: “why, then, ask me in the first place”!?

Trivial and yet important if you like (as I do) good fried eggs and I’ve really seen them in a seeming continent-wide tailspin in the past decade. I’ve stopped eating breakfast out by and large as a result of this. just recently in LA at a notable diner: yuk. Runny horrible blubbery whites.

We could now move onto the pandemic of accompanying limp toast, but that would require an entire separate doctoral thesis. 

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  1. No. I order my egg "over medium" and I know others at the same breakfast table that would rather have theirs scrambled over hard, or over easy, (or frizzled, etc). Lots of folks like their eggs cooked differently depending on what they are being served alongside.

    6 Replies
    1. re: wyogal

      +1. no runny yolk. ever. makes me queasy. yuck.

      i understand i am in a minority here, but if i am served what the OP desribes as a 'just right' egg it will still be sitting on my plate, untouched, when they come to clear the dishes.

      1. re: KaimukiMan

        are you responding to me or the OP? I didn't describe a "just right" egg.

        1. re: wyogal

          i was agreeing with you about the 'over medium' and conflated the 'just right egg' into my answer, so yes and yes. my bad. i have edited my reply.

        2. re: KaimukiMan

          I'm with you 100%. I hate runny yolks and don't understand why others like them. It's definitely not "just right" for me.

        3. re: wyogal

          Put me in the over medium crowd. Soft yolk good. Runny yolk horrible

          1. re: CanadaGirl

            +1, I can enjoy a slightly runny yolk IF there's no raw white left.

        4. I frequent four different diners in my area where I order eggs for breakfast. Over medium is my instruction, and all four of the kitchens get it right. If they didn't they wouldn't remain in my rotation.

          So, I'm thinking that an experienced short order cook will deliver eggs exactly as requested.

          Anything less and they should be putting together the ingredients for a Sausage & Egg McMuffin at the Golden Arches.

          1. Based on the replies so far perhaps I am misunderstanding the issue. Do people in general not want a warm & runny yolk to dip their toast in?? But then surely they can't like uncooked whites which is what I am finding more & more.

            11 Replies
            1. re: bishopsbitter

              I think the issue is, no, there isn't one way to cook an egg that the majority will like. That's what the OP is asking... I think. (That 90% like their eggs with a runny yolk, set whites, so that should be called "just right.")
              And "over easy" is a runny yolk and a white that isn't completely set. A runny yolk with set whites is "Over medium," at least that's what they taught us in cooking school.

              1. re: wyogal

                Funny, I always thought "over easy" meant that the egg had been flipped, so that the white was fully cooked; "sunny-side up" is when it's left to cook without flipping, with a white that isn't completely set. I wonder if it's a regional dialect thing? In my lifetime experience in the SF Bay Area, ordering "over easy" has always resulted in a flipped, cooked-through white with a runny yolk.

                1. re: Kitchen Imp

                  I was wondering, too. I was told one thing by chef... then just looked it up. Over easy is flipped. and yes, the white is set, barely.
                  But, around these parts, over easy has a white that isn't set enough for my liking. The over medium assures a firm white with still a runny yolk, but barely set around the edges.

                  1. re: sandylc

                    I know, did you not read the post where I made that correction? A set (or cooked) white with a soft yolk that is lightly set around the edges.

                    1. re: wyogal

                      Ooh, sorry! I didn't notice that you did both posts! Silly me...

                  2. re: wyogal

                    I must say I had wondered about the "textbook" definition, so thanks! I find over medium usually results in over-done in terms of amount of unset yolk. To me the delight of egg eating is dipping in the warm liquid yolk. If there's hardly any left that's not set up, then I feel a bit cheated. whether over-easy or over-medium in the textbook equates to my "just right" I suppose where I was going with the original thought is that the "over" instructions are missing that vital "please do whatever means it's nicely cooked" aspect. Sort of like it's a rare pilot who can jockey a plane with reference to the vertical speed indicator at 100 ft per minute ascent or descent, so I think three or more different gradations of "over" may tax all but the veteran or gifted egg cooks to (for starters) remember which is which. That's what I think happens more often than deliberate short-order sabotage. The orders simply get banjaxed up. I have experimented asking for "basted" but that begs the question "for how long."? so mixed results too.

                    1. re: bishopsbitter

                      I ask for over medium always turns out great (just right). I don't cook them that way at home, though, they are self-basted, towards the end of cooking, I put in a couple drops of water, put on the lid. I love the lovely pink color of the skin over the yolk.
                      But, mind you, that is not "just right" for many.

                      1. re: wyogal

                        While obviously not all will approve of "Just Right" I was striving to see if there was agreement that a 90% group actually were on the same page for fried eggs. From the responses I tend to think the answer is a qualified "Yes" albeit with an increased degree of doneness of yolk. It's the McDonald's versus Burger King (how "you" want it) kind of debacle. Mcdonald's (and I am not defending their breakfast aberrations with the possible exception of the delightfully onioney steak egg & cheese thingee) are of the 90% like it this way ilk. My experience with Burger King is that they offer me the choice but it is is not, in the event, a choice worth having. "Extra onions." perhaps the extra onion can be detected via elecron microscope, otherwise . . . it's a standard Whopper.

                  3. re: bishopsbitter

                    most people do want a warm runny yolk. but it gives me the heebie jeebies. i am in the minority, but not alone.

                    most people do want the whites set and sllightly to medium firmness, so either sunny side up (set but soft) or over easy (set and firm), or over medium whites set and firm (yolk soft but not runny) or over hard (yolk approacing 'hard boiled').

                  4. i definitely agree that over easy is just right. the best part of a fried egg is having the yolk run all over the plate to mix with everything else and soak a good crusty toast in. what would be the point of a fried egg besides that?? if you want a solid yolk, might as well order it hard boiled.

                    14 Replies
                    1. re: mattstolz

                      Just so! But it also has to be not just runny yolk, but warmed through, otherwise white "runoff" occurs (the tip off for undercookedness is when the yolk section disconnects itself from the rest of the whites). Tthen it all goes to heck in a handbasket since the yolk is almost cold.

                      1. re: mattstolz

                        I've got a good friend who eats fried eggs 'over hard' -- doesn't like them scrambled, and won't touch a hard-boiled yolk.

                        "Just Right" has as many definitions as there are people who eat eggs.

                        1. re: sunshine842

                          i guess my question is, at what point do you change the chef's concept of the dish by changing the consistency of the yolk? to give (what id consider) a similar example, would you walk into a place, order seared tuna, but then ask for it to be cooked medium or well done?

                          1. re: mattstolz

                            We're getting dangerously close to the "proper" doneness to cook a steak!

                            1. re: mattstolz

                              It depends on the dish. If it's to be a soft, runny yolk that goes over the other ingredients, then I wouldn't mess with it.
                              But, if it's an order of eggs with hashbrowns, bacon, pancakes, etc.... then have 'em the way you want.
                              Nope, I wouldn't order seared tuna and ask for it to be well done. I would order something else.

                              1. re: mattstolz

                                it's just eggs at breakfast.

                                Not even the same category as seared tuna -- the expectations of the diner and the chef are completely different for eggs at breakfast.

                                1. re: sunshine842

                                  depends on the dish i guess. just an order of eggs, sure, thats totally up to you. but i think if it is served over hash, or poached as a benedict, or on a breakfast sandwich, then the egg should be cooked the way the chef intends it to be cooked to get the full effect of the dish, no?

                                  1. re: mattstolz

                                    If the chef is competent, a huge yes. Unfortunately, a diner sometimes has to enact defensive eating strategies when trapped at a lesser establishment.

                                    Wow, did that sound snotty! But I still mean it.

                                    In any event, so long as the white is cooked through, I won't complain.

                                    1. re: mattstolz

                                      but nobody asks how you want your egg cooked on a benedict or in a breakfast sandwich.

                                        1. re: sandylc

                                          well, yeah -- if it's JUST fried eggs, they ask how you want them. (don't recall ever being asked how I wanted my baked, boiled, coddled, or scrambled eggs cooked).

                                          When it becomes part of a dish, it becomes the chef's responsibility to cook them correctly in the context of the dish.

                                        2. re: sunshine842

                                          On a Benedict that makes sense, since the cook (assuming he has the skill to control the process) will poach the egg to his or her definition of Just Right. Of course, most high-volume restaurants will probably have all the eggs prepoached and sitting in cold water, to be warmed in hot and then skimmed out and served, so there's no point specifying anything there.

                                          About sandwiches, it might be odd. I had never been served or made a fried-egg sandwich with anything but a non-runny yolk, until one day I was visiting a couple I knew, and the guy said he was going to make egg sandwiches for himself and his girlfriend, and did I want one? Well, always! But when he served them I was astounded to see the yolk drooling towards the edge of the bread. He and the woman were equally astonished to hear that anybody would eat one any other way.

                                          1. re: Will Owen

                                            Unless at a restaurant and I forget to specify scrambled eggs in my sandwich it usually comes over hard but at home the egg sandwich is sunny side up.

                                            1. re: Will Owen

                                              Although I would default to over hard eggs for sandwiches, my husband loves over easy or over medium eggs on his sandwiches as well, especially if he's eating it at home and doesn't have to worry about the mess.

                                2. I've never thought that the question "how would you like your eggs?" means anything other than - do you want scrambled, poached, fried, etc. Never thought I was being asked how well-cooked I want them, except for over easy (flipped) vs. sunny-side up (not-flipped). Native English-speaking American, here, and I'm gobsmacked.

                                  1. On the toast issue, might we just be looking at the cold-toast-in-the-toast-rack vs. the hot-toast-with-butter-melted-into-it issue that is divided by the Atlantic?

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: sandylc

                                      Well cold (or warm) CRISPY toast yes it is a bit like that. And yet, in a country where table manners (and particularly making eating noises) are respectively considered important and frowned upon, one "eating noise" that is not frowned upon is the biting into crisp freshly-buttered toast having dipped it in a succulent egg yolk or doused in marmalade seconds earlier. That noise will not cause frowns even at Buck House. Also (if one wants to get sexual) I think toast should at least have the erectile ability to penetrate a basted or "over" yolk with a pointy corner. I find most toast here cannot perform the act.

                                      In England it is common to have the toast replaced (even though cold remains) in mid breakfast. In a frugal country that tells you something about toast needing to be fresh and crisp to the nth degree. It's not so much a petty "we say potatoh" thing as I do think "mooshy" pre "I-know-it's-not-butter-only-too-well"-ed toast is not a thing of beauty.

                                      1. re: bishopsbitter

                                        We had a girl stay with our family, and exchange type thing, from England. She was amazed that we buttered our toast right away, bringing the buttered toast to the table. She said they toast it, then put the slices in this little stand that kept the pieces upright, with space between. Way crunchy!

                                        1. re: bishopsbitter

                                          Much as I love traveling in England and adore a proper fry-up, I DETEST cold, dried-out toast. I take it out of the rack, put it on a napkin or saucer, and cover it up to keep it warm and moist.

                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                            As a Brit I think toast should be buttered when hot then allowed to cool a liitle. Then, when the butter has soaked in, one picks up ones toast and (noting the absence of a buttery coating) one then adds more butter.

                                            1. re: Peg


                                              "Butter" being the operative word Peg. Not I-CAN-Believe-It's-Not-Butter which I believe was an early way to use leftover greasetrap residue before biodiesel fuel.

                                      2. I am the only one in my family that likes that wonderful runny egg. I don't think "just right" or runny, is the preferred method of frying eggs.

                                        I can't remember being served an egg fried in the wrong way after I requested it over easy, or sunnyside up.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: sueatmo

                                          i would say that "just right" is normally considered runny yolks. my reason for saying this is: think of any dish that has a fried egg ON TOP of it. the intention of the chef when creating that dish is normally that the yolk breaks and becomes mixed with whatever is under it (whether it be a burger/sandwich, hash, pasta, whatever) just because people may order it differently because theyre not fans of runny yolks, i dont think it changes the original intention of the dish. (and i would argue that, if these people would be missing out on the best part of the dish)

                                          1. re: sueatmo

                                            +1 for sueatmo - I've never been served an egg fried the wrong way if I specified over-easy or sunnyside-up, either.

                                          2. My preferred fried egg is just as the OP described. I am served it probably 80% of the times when I specify "over easy". Most of those I have breakfasted with seem to prefer the yolk more set. One friend gets woozy if she sees a runny yolk - I just order an omelet if I'm with her.

                                            I have not experienced as frequent of egg problems as the OP, but I do think that the attention to egg cookery has fallen off a bit.

                                            6 Replies
                                            1. re: meatn3

                                              You see, posting this thread has taught me something I never suspected. (I don't have a huge circle of friends or family.) But I am really surprised that the preference is for "set up" yolks on fried eggs. I find it curious, but it's good to know the way the wind blows.

                                              1. re: bishopsbitter

                                                "But I am really surprised that the preference is for "set up" yolks on fried eggs."

                                                I disagree. I think that the greater number of people who enjoy fried eggs in the states like the yolk at least semi-runny...those who have some sort of squeemish thing with runny yolks usually, in my experience, don't order/eat fried eggs very often.

                                                1. re: sandylc

                                                  I agree -my experience is that people like a set white (runny white = ick!), with a well-warmed, runny yolk.

                                                  1. re: sandylc

                                                    I'm tolerant of everything from really and truly Over Easy through "Oops, too hard!", except when it comes to a fried egg sandwich. That's the one time I break the yolk while the egg is cooking, and then turn it over to let it get sufficiently firm. That's the egg sandwiches I grew up with, and never considered the possibility of anything different until I was visiting with some friends one day. They were going to have egg sandwiches, and asked if I'd like one; of course I said, "Yes, please!" To my great surprise I noticed that they were taking great care NOT to break the yolks; when I commented on that it was their turn to be surprised, as they'd never had them without runny yolks. Part of the charm, they said. First and only time I had an egg sandwich that was as tricky to eat as an over-dressed burger.

                                                    1. re: Will Owen

                                                      Guess I should've read this whole thread before telling the same story again! Of course I have the same problem out in the so-called Real World …

                                              2. Restaurants rarely cook eggs the way I like them, so... The only eggs I've ordered in a restaurant in the last two decades (or more?) are eggs Benedict, because they have the highest probability of arriving at my table in reasonably edible condition. I have fun with eggs at home.

                                                1. Of my group of friends, I'm the only one out of 10 that orders over easy. Everyone else orders scrambled. I think this is mainly due to the fear of raw eggs and salmonella. Also, I don't think people are into the oozy egg yolk.

                                                  1. Since I can no longer watch my eggs being cooked to order, US Army chow line, I have put my own lable on them. I prefer eggs on top of my biscuits and gravy. Sunny side up. Unfortunately, they sometimes do a quick flip. So I ask for them sunny side up, really snotty. I have only had them mess it up once in over 20 years. The waitress looked at me, looked at the eggs, mouthed snotty to herself, and went to replace them.

                                                    I didn't have to say a thing.

                                                    1. Enjoyable reading all the replies (for which, thanks to all). I'm pleased (from the tenor of some) that I'm not alone in being passionate about fried eggs. they can be so good, and yet a few seconds either way = disaster, and the heat of the pan/surface all need to be taken into account to cook a perfect one. I suppose, that's why good (GOOD) short-order cooks have a career for life if they want it (there used to be a guy at the Golden Gate in Las Vegas whose eggs were choice). I wonder if we should add a further option: "DIY" "bring me a spirit burner and a frying pan and spatula please."

                                                      1. I'm another "over medium" person. I've only been to England once and it was a LONG time ago, but I was really frustrated and sent an egg back twice because it wasn't cooked enough; over easy seemed to be the only way they would give it to me, and it was just not done enough at ALL for me.

                                                        White must be 100% cooked, no exception. Yolk should just be a LITTLE cooked around the outside edge. So yes, there is a runny dippy spot in the middle, but also a little slightly soft/cooked yolk surrounding it. That's over medium for me. And to the one poster below, I HATE when the yolk runs all over. I want it nice and contained. Unless I'm eating carbonara or something.

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: rockandroller1

                                                          the strangest egg I've ever had in my life was at the Southampton Hilton -- their "fried eggs" were eggs that had been slipped into a preheated deep fryer -- then fished out with a slotted spoon.

                                                          Yes, they were as greasy as they sound -- and I unapologetically used a couple of napkins to soak up the slick.

                                                          And stuck with the boiled eggs the rest of that trip.

                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                            That is a new one on me! Most chefs frown on deep-fried bacon but deep-fried fried eggs . . . lord lumme!

                                                        2. Reading about broken yolks reminds me of the eggs we had growing up. We called them "momma eggs," because she'd break the yolk when flipped. We had "momma eggs" for fried egg sandwiches, white and yolk kinda swirled together. My husband likes his fried egg for sandwiches thoroughly combined, all yellow.

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: wyogal

                                                            I am partial to bacon & egg sandwiches with the egg yolk disgorged runnily all over the bread and bacon and a dash of L&P or HP sauce. English back bacon is best for bacon sarnies though.

                                                            1. re: bishopsbitter

                                                              on a flour bap with lots of HP and a big mug of builder's tea, please.

                                                          2. my problem isn't with sunny side up eggs ~I hate them~ (so) always order eggs over medium as does my husband.
                                                            my problem is with Eggs Benedict, my favorite egg dish but with this caveat.
                                                            no one seems to have a clue what a hollandaise is. you get this pale yellow blob of no flavor goo.
                                                            or....our favorite place for breakfast where we live uses seemingly low quality sandwich sliced ham whereas they used to use Canadian bacon. so now I order it with bacon and get charged $4.35 extra. < hummm ....but the biggest fault with always <anywhere> ordering Eggs Benedict is
                                                            pleading for my eggs done (with however I can get it across to the server) with the whites cooked through and the yolks runny. how hard is that? next to impossible. our DD has told me forever I'm asking for real trouble by sending them back when they still come out with the white oozing.
                                                            how do I order them? over medium poached/basted?

                                                            1. I absolutely loathe egg white that isn't completely cooked. If any of the egg white looks like something you'd find on a kleenex, I am revolted.

                                                              Poached eggs and over-easy almost always seem to contain some gummy egg white. Ordering "poached medium" can result in anything from the usual wobbly underdone egg to completely hard. "over medium" has a higher success rate, but is still unpredictable. I usually order scrambled as a defensive measure.

                                                              1. Somewhat off topic, but a couple of weeks ago I cooked a meal for a few friends - the first course was a trimmed thick slice of white toast with a section scooped out and filled with egg yolks - then the toast was baked till the yolks were just slightly thickened. I served the toasts with poached asparagus and warm white truffle cream.
                                                                I'd not even considered that anyone wouldn't like it - and indeed it was a total foodgasm and wiped clean plates all round.
                                                                Had I considered that people may not like runny yolks I'd have cooked something else - so I'm very glad I was so inconsiderate!

                                                                6 Replies
                                                                1. re: Peg

                                                                  Now THAT is a toad in a hole gone uptown. Sounds good.

                                                                  1. re: Peg

                                                                    OMG. Please post your recipe for the warm white truffle cream on the HC board, if you may!

                                                                    1. re: linguafood

                                                                      Um - seasoned thin cream plus truffle paste. Warm gently et voila!

                                                                      1. re: Peg

                                                                        Sorry, but what's "thin" cream? Crème fraîche? Light cream? Heavy cream?

                                                                        And where'd ya get white truffle paste? Online?

                                                                        1. re: linguafood

                                                                          Single cream in the UK - I've no idea what that is in American. The truffle paste is Italian, purchased in Selfridges London. It is labelled 'I Tartufi Bianchi in Crema, 98%' It is in a plain white tube (like toothpaste) and I can't see a brand or logo.
                                                                          It could be the one listed here http://www.theitaliangusto.it/prodott... but there is no photo.

                                                                          1. re: Peg

                                                                            I'll have to wait for it then until I'm back in Berlin - I've seen the truffle paste there (in a glass, tho). By then I might have figured out what single cream is in Germany :-)

                                                                  2. I think this issue is an unfortunate and direct consequence of our rancorous and untoward, self-absorbed political histrionics. And "just right" is just another example of that "right" thinking that assumes a limited few know what is best for everyone else.
                                                                    I submit to you that the progression of political rudeness is reflected in the civility or lack thereof, in our breakfasts.
                                                                    To not ask you how you want your eggs is indicative of a society which no longer values your right to personal preference.
                                                                    Here are some simple guidelines that may help re-establish a more respectful behavior towards each other.
                                                                    "Over easy" is, flip the egg, turn and grab the plate, put egg on the plate (yolk up, of course).
                                                                    "Over medium" is, flip the egg, put the bacon, meat and/or hash browns on the plate, put egg on plate.
                                                                    "hard over" is, flip the egg, put everything else on the plate, butter the toast and cut it and put on plate, put egg on plate.
                                                                    Anything beyond “hard over” warrants a visit to the table to look into the eyes of the diner and ask gently “is everything ok” and do they want to talk about it.

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Sonny_Funzio

                                                                      and all along I thought "just right" was all about those 3 bears and that bratty blonde.

                                                                      1. I have learned that over easy seems too variable as far as the whites, so over medium is what I have ordered for the last several years and its always been perfect.
                                                                        Personally I am not sure I would ever order a fried egg if I didn't want the liquidly golden yolky goodness to flow out.

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: PenskeFan

                                                                          I rarely order fried eggs, a I want my yolk to ooze out, not flow out. I usually end up with flowing in restaurants and I just don't like the taste when the yolk is cooked that little.

                                                                        2. I have realized during the life of this thread that it has been a very long time since I have ordered a fried egg in a restaurant. I tend more to order something that I am less inclined to make at home or that looks different/interesting. I generally try not to order anything that I commonly make at home or that I can make better at home.

                                                                          1. Personally, I like my fried eggs "over well broken" (basically roadkill). I always assumed that people specified how they wanted their fried eggs "done" when they ordered them. Basically, "how do you want your eggs?" elicited a response of "scrambled", "poached", "sunny side up", "over easy", "over medium", ... I never thought anybody would actually say "fried" as the answer to that question.

                                                                            So, I don't think there should be a fried default. The server should ask the customer how they would like the fried egg cooked as a follow-up question.

                                                                            I guess we could talk about the same question as related to boiled eggs...

                                                                            1. I love a runny yolk but gag on crispy bits of egg whites, so I prefer a "just right" poached eggs, which most American Restaurants have no CLUE how to make. To me, a 'Just right" poached egg is a delicacy.

                                                                              1. I seldom order eggs fora breakfast at a restaurant since I'm more interested in their other options that I don't cook at home, but I agree that their usual product (lacking instructions from the diner) is cooked whites, runny yolk, brown edges.

                                                                                At home, I find that very slow cooking is best for producing this kind of egg without either runny whites or brown edges, but very few restaurants would spend the time on this.

                                                                                1. Okay, since this thread has again appeared on my radar scope after, lo, these many months, I must ask: Has anyone yet caught a glimpse of sous vide eggs on a restaurant menu? It's now my favorite way to cook eggs. Oh, and for the record, "sunny side up" means the thin film of albumen on top of the yolk is NOT done, but the rest of the white is. When I order sunny side up, they either undercook them to the point of disgusting, OR they bring me over-easy. It's rare for any American restaurant to do eggs well. Sad.

                                                                                  1. Thanks for the new posts on this (I think) important topic. Since last posting I can count the nicely-cooked fried eggs encountered on one hand with fingers to spare.

                                                                                    The importance is not so much in the fact that we will die horribly if our eggs are not cooked nicely, but that somehow the slippage in standards here (and the fact that by and large no one appears to notice and/or care) reflects a more general slippage, which is why I find it important.

                                                                                    In restaurants (which, although I love food and written countless pages about here, I patronize less and less for the following reason) I find that more often than not it is blindingly obvious to me that no-one overseeing the joint ever looks around and says "you know, what we're doing here just isn't bloody good enough for our valued customers!" Disinterested inept service. Food that comes in random order, from random people (something I hate with a passion is "revolving waiters"), with random precision in cooking and/or requested accoutrements.

                                                                                    So while the fried-egg fetish may sound trivial there is a wider sphere of concern. i am pretty convinced that were it not for (in itself scary) the fact that many appear unable to cook at home for themselves restaurants simply could not get away with the "this is as good as it's going to get so get used to it Buster" m.o.

                                                                                    I was just looking at the menu of a restaurant I used to love back in the 70's and their menu suggests they are STILL TRYING. It still looks fresh, attractive and makes me want to book a flight to England. Such places are rare but longevity tells the story: check out Brown's in the UK and see if you agree. It's been years since I was there but suspect they haven't changed their spots. I'd just like to see more "Brown's" attitude in restaurants here. No resting on laurels.

                                                                                    13 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: bishopsbitter

                                                                                      but there are lots of people (in fact, I'd venture to say MOST eating breakfast in a restaurant) who aren't incapable of cooking an egg themselves...in many cases, far from it! It's that they're traveling and/or have a meeting -- thereby rendering the cooking of an egg impractical for any of a number of reasons.

                                                                                      Which begs the question -- if you're so unsatisfied with the eggs that others cook for you, then why aren't you cooking your own eggs?

                                                                                      There are days when I would truly like to experience a life in which the most important item on my agenda is fretting over the condition of my eggs.

                                                                                      (and as someone who has been traveling to England for a couple of decades now -- I can unequivocally say that the calibre of restaurant food and the level of service rendered today is miles and miles above that I found when I first started visiting -- and back then I was on an expense account, and now I'm on my own dime, so this is a pretty broad-based observation in different areas of the country and different levels of restaurants.)

                                                                                      1. re: bishopsbitter

                                                                                        I think the difficulty of getting a slowly-cooked egg depends on the priorities of the business side of the restaurant. A lunch counter or "greasy spoon" exists to feed the most people as quickly as possible; the extreme of this was a back-street joint in Jackson, Tennessee, when we were passing through very early one morning. One would order from the cashier, pay, and receive a ticket, then line up behind a counter seat, with maybe three guys ahead of you (my girlfriend was the only woman in the place!). Within five minutes you'd sit down and hand the cook your ticket. He'd turn, drop eggs on the flat grill, turn them over, plate them with toast and whatever meat or side you'd ordered and drop it in front of you. Although Judy and I had managed to get seated at the same time we knew better than to converse … on the other hand, it was all surprisingly tasty and maybe three bucks.

                                                                                        A greasy spoon will cook the eggs directly on the grill; a good diner will use a pan, and the grill for a cooktop. A good restaurant will offer eggs any style, poached to fried to scrambled to omelets, and a REALLY good restaurant will do all of this with skill and care, including poaching the eggs to order. At each ascending level you can expect to pay more, though I know one superb place in Hollywood whose eggs are of the last category, and while it's not cheap it's well within my limited means.

                                                                                        1. re: Will Owen

                                                                                          This may be a sidetrack, but: "A good restaurant will offer eggs any style, poached to fried to scrambled to omelets, and a REALLY good restaurant will do all of this with skill and care, including poaching the eggs to order."
                                                                                          I have noticed one exception to this, maybe it is a quirky one. May be I have not been to any good restaurants, but I have been to several that are highly regarded locally (in different regions of the US). All of them will do scrambled, poached, fried, omelets. Almost none were wiling to do a hard boiled egg.
                                                                                          This is not a one-off experience, but is very consistent. I have seen HBE in the oddest places e.g. in gas stations believe it or not, but not in the diners or brunch places that advertise eggs "any style". I have quite a collection of amusing excuses the kitchen comes up with for not being willing to do HBE (e.g. we don't have hot water). It's not that they are using powdered eggs, because they are willing to do poached eggs. Why the reluctance to do HBE?
                                                                                          I would love to hear any theories/explanations. Thanks

                                                                                          1. re: Rasam

                                                                                            I'd hate to make anyone wait for a hardboiled egg from scratch. The proper way is to start with cold water - I add a big pinch of salt and a dash of vinegar - and cover the pot most of the way. Bring it just to the beginning of a rolling boil, cover completely for 30 seconds, and then take the covered pot off the heat and let it sit 15 minutes. Okay, you've just taken over a cooktop eye for two lousy eggs for ten-fifteen minutes, the whole operation taking the better part of half an hour, for which you're gonna charge - what, five bucks? And your diner has been sitting there drinking coffee and looking at his watch.

                                                                                            Yes, you can use ready-boiling water and drop the egg in for seven minutes as my mom did, and get something with a rubber white, and a mealy yolk with a yucky green sulfur layer surrounding it.

                                                                                            The best way to handle HB eggs in a restaurant setting is as an ingredient. Or you could cook a bunch and then chill them and keep them in water in the walk-in, like a lot of places do with poached eggs, but I don't know of anyone who thinks of such an egg as much other than picnic food or a beer snack. You don't see Ho-Hos or Slim Jims on restaurant menus either, do you? What's more, boiled eggs are much more perishable than fresh ones, so if you overestimate the number of boiled eggs you can sell that day, you'd better plan for egg salad or creamed eggs and chipped beef on toast as next day's special.

                                                                                            1. re: Will Owen

                                                                                              It's pretty common all across the UK and Europe to see hard-boiled eggs sitting in a basket on the breakfast buffet -- sometimes warm, sometimes cold; never peeled.

                                                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                I think they're supposed to be soft-boiled, generally, but they're always overdone.

                                                                                                1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                  I've wondered about that, but sometimes they're served cold (especially in Germany), so I'm pretty sure they're supposed to be hard-boiled.

                                                                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                    Yeah, if they're meant to be cold (and not have simply been sitting around too long :-)) they're definitely hard-boiled.

                                                                                                    My dad always packed hard-boiled eggs for us as a snack for long train rides. That'll keep ya filled up for a while.

                                                                                                    1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                      but yes, the later you arrive for the breakfast buffet, the more likely you are to get hard-boiled!

                                                                                              2. re: Will Owen

                                                                                                Bring up an interesting side-point about the wonders of a "just right" soft-boiled egg. The proverbial "Three Minute" or "Four and a Quarter Minute" or [your time choice here] . Unfortunately, as the final tag in my original opening post says, the soft-boiled egg DEMANDS crispy hot buttered toast for dunking. Two items that were extremely common (and probably still are) in the UK but never seen except by foodie / anglophiles here are (soft-boiled) egg timers [most classically, an hour-glass type of contraption, not a regular kitchen timer http://www.gdparker.co.uk/images/kc_e... ] , and a toast rack. A toast rack (lack of, along with "painting on" of awful non-butter goop destroying all crispness instantly) is essentially why US toast is perennially limp and unappetizing. Great additional point to bring the soft-boiled egg into this discussion / equation! I suppose we could further raise the bar in terms of what the eggs (however cooked) actually taste like these days versus thirty of forty (or longer) years ago. There was a reason people could "make a meal" of eggs in earlier days not just in terms of poverty or lack of meat but in terms of the fact that eggs used to taste much better than they do now whether Eggland's Best or any other "cage free" brand. Not only are they generally cooked ineptly, but the product doesn't taste that good any more compared to years ago. (When did you last encounter a double-yolk??) Nuff Said. Unless you own chickens of course.

                                                                                                1. re: bishopsbitter

                                                                                                  Got a double yolk just last week. :) We are lucky to get eggs from DH's co worker who keeps a flock, and also keeps goats. The eggs are very good.

                                                                                                  And to all the others who replied about HBE, thanks. I guess I will just get mine from gas stations, when I am not getting them from my own kitchen. :)


                                                                                                  1. re: bishopsbitter

                                                                                                    I cannot stand the cold, dried-out product of a toast rack, and will take my toast out of the proferred rack every single time.

                                                                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                      Toast would be a good thread.

                                                                                                      I agree that I have never understood how toast can be hot in a toast rack. And I think that good quality bread and good butter make good toast (without being mushy) when done American-style. You just don't often find the good stuff at your average breakfast place.