When Campanile stopped serving daily breakfast a decade ago, the regulars (but obviously not enough of them) who’d made a cappuccino and pastry or poached eggs and ham at the restaurant part of their morning routine were devastated. They had become accustomed to using the white tablecloth restaurant as an office away from the office. Over a sumptuous breakfast, they would meet clients, hold meetings, plot goals and projects. Screenwriters scribbled, actors pored over scripts and there may already have been a few bloggers at their keyboards. And then it ended (except for weekend brunch, which is still going strong).
If Campanile couldn’t keep breakfast going, what ambitious restaurant could? Du-par’s and the Original Pantry rarely venture beyond the basics. Yet there’s reason for optimism: After several years of deprivation for diners, the L.A. breakfast is making a comeback.
Why? It’s a result of more relaxed working hours, unpredictable traffic and changing dining habits. Restaurants are noisier at night: If you want to spend time with a friend or colleague over a meal, breakfast has a certain novelty and convenience. And, usually, baby sitters are not involved. Or hard liquor. You can enjoy all the perks of a top-notch restaurant without the expense of a three-course meal, plus wine. Breakfast, I’m here to say, is a civilized affair, and compared with other dining options, a relative bargain.
Neal Fraser and his wife Amy Knoll Fraser helped jump-start the trend when they opened the casual BLD -- breakfast lunch dinner -- down the street from their more formal, contemporary American restaurant Grace. And they weren’t just doing brunch, but breakfast every day. Ammo joined in too, with its early-morning offerings.
And now, a handful of restaurants, formal and laid-back, are discovering an enthusiasm for breakfast. Time it right, and you can stop on the way to work, avoid the worst of the traffic, eat something serious and leave ready to take on the day.
Suddenly there is an array of delicious options -- a Japanese bento box breakfast, a perfect croissant and cafe au lait, billowy pain perdu, a stack of blueberry ricotta pancakes, soft-scrambled tofu and the classic two eggs sunny side up with toast. Here’s where to look.
In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and ricotta cheese so that there are no large lumps of cheese, but make sure the mixture does not become too smooth (this will make the pancakes wet and grainy). Whisk in the sugar, salt and vanilla, then the milk.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder. Fold this into the egg batter just until no lumps remain.
Separately, whip the egg whites to medium-stiff, shiny peaks, about 4 minutes. Gently fold these into the batter just until uniformly combined.
Ladle a generous one-fourth cup of batter onto a medium-hot, lightly greased griddle for each pancake. Place 10 to 12 blueberries on each pancake and cook, about 2 minutes per side, until the cakes are golden-brown and cooked through. Serve immediately with maple syrup on the side.
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