Brandywine Restaurant


(Grand Rapids, MI) — Our recent Sunday morning outings have borne worthwhile adventures, so we decided to keep the streak alive by scheduling breakfast at Brandywine Restaurant in Grand Rapids East. We manage to beat the regular morning crowd by getting up early. There are even parking spots around back! Although Brandywine isn’t much to look at from the outside, we are hoping for a hearty meal inside...

He Fed:

I’m not quite sure what to make of the small restaurant and the somewhat gaudy purple paint, but inside it has a fun “arty” feel to it, with Caribbean murals and black-and-white photos on the wall. There are plenty of tables to be had, so we pick a booth, as the sign at the entrance bids us “please seat yourself”. Despite it being nigh ten o’clock, the dining room is only about 30% capacity. Where is everyone? Sure, church has yet to let out but if we were over to Wolfgang’s, it would be much busier.

A prompt, friendly waitress greets us with menus and water, asking what we’d like to drink. Both of us get cups of standard, non-descript diner coffee—made only slightly better with cream—and I spring for a small glass of tart grapefruit juice. I do make note of the thick plastic glasses that remind me of every classic diner we’ve ever visited.

We also order a cinnamon “knot” in the hopes it is their version of a cinnamon roll, so we can compare to our current favorite at San Chez Cafe. It arrives, sprinkled with cinnamon powder (not a fan of that method), and indeed it is some kind of doughy knot with a sugary glob of near-tasteless icing on top. I can tell after the first bite that it’ll sit in the pit of my stomach for a couple hours afterward. Disheartened slightly, I delve into the comprehensive menu options for my main course.

After much consideration, I choose the Smoked Chicken & Black Bean Hash. It’s a bed of thick-cut potato and sweet potato chunks, tossed with black beans and a slightly spicy sauce, commingled with slices of boneless chicken, roasted red peppers, and topped with two poached eggs. I order rye toast and get marble rye that’s too dry and too toasted. Although I like the general concept of the dish, and the eggs are poached perfectly, the potatoes are cut too large; the chicken is dry and overcooked; and the whole thing just doesn’t quite come together. I’m left with a greasy taste in my mouth that is not pleasant and lasts well beyond the meal’s end.

We pay the bill, then prepare to head back out into the chill. A gaggle of hungry diners has converged in the entry, attempting to enter and be seated. (During our stay, they may have turned the sign around so newcomers couldn’t choose their own table.) As we shimmy our way past, I hope they are aware that Brandywine intends to provide home-cooked food with a diner feel and I hope they have a better experience than I. Our servers were nice. Food, for the most part, was standard fare that left me flat and disappointed, but it also made me pine for Juliet’s superior cooking instead.
She Fed:

I recently had occasion to meet a dear colleague for brunch at Brandywine. When she suggested the place, I knew it must be good because she advocates places that may not look like much outside, but have something special going on inside. Might be an amazing cup of coffee, a fabulous patty melt, a great baked chili...nothing fancy; just darn good food. I enjoyed one of the best breakfasts of my life and I’ve been nagging Jeremy to go back for weeks.

Sleeping in slightly later than planned, we arrive at Brandywine’s Easttown location just before 10 am. I’ve heard the place is packed on weekends and I’m worried we’ll encounter a long line. We’re in luck as there’s easy parking outside and plenty of seats inside. We snag a booth and I don’t even have to look at the menu. I’ll be ordering the Eggs Timothy, the same thing I had a few weeks back.

We both order coffee, deciding to split the Hot Cinnamon Knot in our ongoing quest for West Michigan’s best cinnamon roll. The coffee is hot and delicious, with frequent refills offered throughout our meal. The cinnamon knot is warm and covered in gooey frosting. I quite like the streusel-like ribbon of cinnamon running through it and discover there is indeed a solid “knot” in the center. While it’s a pleasant, it’s not the best I’ve had.

About halfway through the cinnamon roll our entrees arrive. My Eggs Timothy look slightly different than when I had it earlier, but I dig in. Corned beef hash is topped with two eggs over-easy and Hollandaise. Yes, the corned beef hash is straight out of a can (an abomination to some) but I happen to love canned hash. In fact, I’ve never found homemade hash I like nearly as well. While the hash is from a can, the housemade Hollandaise is phenomenal. The glossy orange egg yolk with the hash and a daub of Hollandaise is truly divine. For my sides, I select extra crispy hash browns with onions and the English muffin toast, which are tasty. I find myself dunking both potatoes and the toast into the Hollandaise. It’s such a decadent treat.

I realize what’s different this time around. The menu lists eggs over-easy...how it arrived today. On my earlier visit the waitress asked how I’d like my eggs and I went with poached, which yielded more runny yolk for dunking and daubing—highly recommended!

The atmosphere at Brandywine is casual with snapshots of customers adorning the walls and a mix of alternative, 60’s and 70’s music playing. The service is prompt and attentive. Jeremy’s experience is far different from mine, but the Eggs Timothy will keep me coming back.

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3 comments:

  1. Give it another try, Jeremy. That hash is the worst thing on the menu. I was skunked with that one before because it deceptively does sound delicious. My experience was similar to yours; the chicken and beans were dry as corks, the potatoes were huge chunks of paste, and the dish as a whole was bland, bland, bland.

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  2. I might, particularly because Juliet likes it so much and I'll probably get dragged there again at some point. I'm a little gun-shy right now, though. Kind of avoiding breakfasts out for a while. How are their eggs benedict dishes? I'm a sucker for those, but I wanted to try something a bit different.

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  3. The benedicts are better. I am not a huge fan of their hollaindaise. It's a little too much mustard for me. However, if you dig their hollaindaise (which many people do) you will probably like any number of their benedict offerings.

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