Beverly’s Café

When I was driving down Phila street in downtown Saratoga Springs, I saw a line of people stretching out the door and around the side of a building.  I made a mental note to try the place at some point, and I made a note of the landmarks, since the storefront is so nondescript as to be invisible.  Fortunately it is very close by to one of the most famous restaurants in town (Hattie’s) so that let me find it again.  When I got there, the place was practically empty.  It turns out I had just beaten the rush.

For those of you know would from Austin, Beverly’s is like a cross between Kerbey Lane and Counter Café, with a bit of Foodheads thrown in.  Physically, it’s a small, narrow restaurant (though probably about twice the seating capacity of Counter Café) with paintings of food and cooking on the walls.  Like Counter Café, Beverly’s is only open for breakfast and lunch.  Since I was in the mood for lunch when I first stopped in, and wanting to try a couple of different things, I got the soup and half sandwich.  After being told that the club sandwich wasn’t available because of the bread (I’m assuming that means that they make a triple-decker type of club and didn’t want to be stuck with a leftover half piece) I got the ABS (avocado-bacon-Swiss) at the advice of the waitress.   I will admit to mentally excluding that sandwich from initial consideration, since avocados are so finicky, and I’m in neither the right place nor the right time for good ones.   But the sandwich turned out to be quite tasty.  In addition to the aforementioned ingredients, the sandwich came with lettuce, tomato, and a Dijon mustard sauce (described as “Empire Diner style,” whatever that means).  It was the addition of this condiment, with its sharp acidic/bitter taste that really added to the sandwich (cutting against the mellowing avocado and cheese) that reminded me of the way Foodheads does their sandwiches.  Also reminding me of Foodheads were the cole slaw served with the sandwich and the soup.   They had three or four soups up on the whiteboard, I only remember that one was lemon basil chicken, that one was a cold fruit soup, and one was what I ordered: carrot-apple-parsnip.  Very tasty, and the first peppery item I’ve had since moving up here.  The texture…  Foodheads makes a mushroom soup which is basically a hot bowl of ground mushrooms.  This dish also pushed the boundaries of what can legitimately be called soup.  There is a difference, I think between a thick pureed soup on one hand, and baby food on the other.  This was on the far side of that line.  If you can pile it up and sculpt it in the manner of mashed potatoes then I would classify it as not-soup.  Very tasty though. 

Because I was so happy with my lunch, I came back the next day for breakfast.  I ordered nothing unique, just their standard two of everything: eggs, bacon, pancakes and “home fries.”   I was so very impressed.  The bacon and eggs were cooked perfectly.  The bacon was of good quality.  And the pancakes were moderate sized, also well cooked, and slightly crunchy with wheat germ.  Very good pancakes.  The home fries reminded me almost exactly of the hash my mother makes, only meatless.  There was some onion in it, and enough seasoned salt to give them an orange tinge.  For those of you who haven’t had my mom’s hash, here’s what the texture is for that dish:  You start with cold, precooked potatoes.  You cook them in a skillet that’s not terribly hot, and doesn’t have much fat in it.  So while you’re cooking them, you begin to form a film of potato that sticks to the bottom of the pan, but doesn’t turn brown.  Then as you scrape the pan with a metal spatula, you scrape up the potato crust which sticks back on to the potatoes, forming a thin, soft layer around the potatoes.  I wanted to ask if they had some corn relish.  That’s what is always served at my house with potatoes like this.  I may see if I can find a jar to bring with me next time, in case they don’t have any.

I’ve been back twice since then, and have been fairly happy with both of my dishes.  The only miss was the breakfast burrito.  I got the huevos con chorizo version, and in contrast to the bacon, the chorizo wasn’t terribly good.  The scrambled eggs were overcooked, and after hermetically sealing inside a tortilla, formed a puddle of water waiting to run out as soon as I took my knife to the thing.  Still, it wasn’t bad per se, just meh.  Which is a definite downgrade from what I had previously.  The most recent dish I liked, but I don’t know if I can recommend it, since I’m not sure what others would receive.   It’s listed on the menu as “German Apple Pancake” and includes a warning as to an extended cook time.  The basic procedure is as follows:  Heat up a pan.  Pour batter into pan.  Top batter with apples.  Place pan into oven and bake until done.  The pancake that arrived on my plate was a sort of crêpey, custardy mildly sweet pancake browned on one side and soft on the other.   I thought it was yummy.  However, it’s not what I expected it to be and – here’s why I can’t recommend it – it’s not what it was supposed to be.  It was supposed to puff up during cooking.  So my impression of it isn’t valid for predicting what it will be in the future, and the fact that they sent out a dish that they new wasn’t right is more than a little disheartening.  Though ‘I can understand why they wouldn’t want to recook it, since it does have a rather long preparation time, and going out to a customer saying “We spent twenty minutes screwing up your breakfast.  Would you like us to take another twenty minutes and see if we get it right, or we could just scramble you a couple of eggs?” isn’t something a tip-based employee wants to do.  I tried their corned beef hash with the pancake, probably bacon would have been a better culinary choice, but I wanted to try their hash.  It was good.  It had shredded carrots in it.  They also have turkey and veggie hash on the menu to try (avacado sandwich, carrot-apple-parsnip soup, veggie hash – yes, this is an Austin-y place!)  Many more items on the menu that I want to try.  The plates of the other diners look good, though I can’t always tell what’s on them (obviously someone back there knows how to plate things). The main problem is that it’s only open for breakfast and lunch, so I can only try it on weekends, and I’ve already got one of those brunch spots dedicated to Ravenous.  It’s going to take me a while to get through the menu, but I think it’s going to be a fun trip.

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