Breakfast and beyond

Apr 9, 2003 at 12:00 am

The morning sun streams through the front windows. A yellow rose on each linen-covered table is the tip-off that you’ve found a good place to enjoy one of life’s little luxuries, Sunday brunch.

Co-owner and chef Tim Meeks describes Recipes as an upscale place for breakfast. (My co-diner fretted that it might be too upscale for jeans, but it’s more hip than classy.) Meeks says he knew he had a concept that would work — “a little bit different than what you’re used to, but not audacious. I keep reminding myself that we’re in the Midwest.” The name Recipes reflects his interest in experimenting with different cuisines.

Meeks met his partner, Trung Huynh, when the two worked together at another restaurant; Huynh at the front of the house, while Meeks has worked both as a manager and a cook. He calls himself a “line cook with lofty ideas.”

On a recent Sunday, we waited half an hour for a table. We amused ourselves with the Sunday paper, and once we were seated, everything was relaxed. The service was flawless.

The menu covers what you might expect for breakfast and more: eggs in every variation, pancakes, French toast (no one seems to feel obligated to mock the French here), biscuits and gravy, granola and oatmeal. Eggs Benedict come with the almost-traditional ham steak (traditional is Canadian bacon), with poached eggs perched on English muffins and the whole thing slathered with hollandaise sauce, another of life’s little luxuries. You can substitute salmon or crabmeat for the ham. Or for something really different, there’s a Spanish version with chorizo, salsa and melted cheddar-jack.

Omelets are divided into two categories: “Recipes We Think Work” and “Recipes You Think Work.” Their recipes include titles like California roll (crabmeat, avocado, cucumber, cream cheese and bits of nori, a paper-thin seaweed used for wrapping sushi), Spanish (spicy with chorizo, salsa and sour cream), Benedictine (chicken, vegetables, cream cheese with hollandaise sauce) and veggie lovers (sun-dried tomatoes, avocado, cream cheese and broccoli). Spinach and sprouts includes mushrooms, with white cheddar and Muenster cheese on top. The Big One ($7) is for very hungry meat lovers, with bacon, sausage, ham, cheddar-jack cheese and vegetables. If you want to invent your own recipe, it’s $5 for cheese and one item, then add a dollar for each addition. (This was starting to sound too much like pizza for me.)

Other egg variations include “mixers,” where the additions are folded into whipped eggs, and “frittatas,” which are a kind of open-faced omelet. Pancakes are hefty, and there’s no skimping on the blueberries.

Most breakfasts are served with potatoes and toast or an English muffin. The potatoes are oven-grilled, so they’re not soggy with grease, and the bread is above average. There are several interesting sandwiches on the menu, as well as salads and pastas. Especially intriguing was a sandwich of roasted eggplant with blue cheese, sprouts, tomato and lettuce on a Kaiser roll.

We were late enough one day that some in our party ordered breakfast, while others had lunch. Our very fussy teeneater ordered chicken scaloppini with angel hair pasta. The chicken medallions were strewn with bits of bacon and the creamy sauce was delicious on the pasta. There were no leftovers. My co-diner ordered pan-Asian pasta with grilled shrimp. I loved sampling the combination of white vermicelli and bean sprouts — the austere white of the noodles camouflaged the sprouts, but they sure chewed differently. Served with a light citrus sauce, the dish was garnished with slices of spring roll.

One complaint: weak coffee! And at $2 a cup. On a second visit, I ordered espresso, which solved the problem for $4.

Recipes is open daily from 7 a.m. for breakfast, with lunch till 2:30 p.m. on weekdays and 3 p.m. on weekends.

Elissa Karg dines for Metro Times. E-mail [email protected].