What’s In Your St. Patrick’s Day Coffee?

With America’s favorite Irish holiday right around the corner, it’s time to consider what wonderful additive will go with this year’s St. Patrick’s Day brew (coffee).

Irish Whisky is a tried and true spike to your morning. There is a reason after all it is called “Irish Coffee”.

Creme de Menthe in your coffee is for those who add multiple sugar packets and need that semblance of “let’s drink green things” for the occasion. Think of it this way … Do you channel your inner Ross Geller?  

Not into mint or whiskey? Don’t let your friends tip them back without you over breakfast. Here are other ways to add some pizzazz to your coffee:

Amaretto will give you a nutty flavor for those who like their Hazelnut flavored coffees from Starbucks.  Caramel Vodka would suffice for those that like the sweeter spectrum. Of course both of these could also be topped with a whipped cream topping so you really get the coffee shop feel. Salted Caramel would also fit the bill. Lastly, chocolate liquers like Godiva would provide the most dessert-like experience of them all.

It would be a fun experiment to try what I call the “breakfast liquors” like the Van Gogh’s PB&J flavor, the Glazed Donut flavor from Mama Walkers, BAKON vodka, or Waffle flavored Georgi vodka. Probably wouldn’t want more than 1. Those Flavors don’t mix with typical bar mixers, so why not look to have breakfast in a cup and pair them directly with the coffee! 

Close your eyes at Mullin’s Diner, you might enjoy the food

imageLet’s be real for a second. Pittsburgh is a blue-collar town with some pretty cultures that still honor the older times. For some reason, on an absolute whim, I decided to go to Mullin’s Diner one morning for a late breakfast. Luckily I was with two friends, if I were with TasteBudA, I’m sure he would have insisted we turn around before even sitting down.  Walking in, you feel like you are eating in a Pep Boys next to the guy changing your oil.  It isn’t overly clean or inviting, but after 3 steps into the door none of us felt like turning back now.

It seems like a place overrun with regulars.  As we walked in, it felt like all eyes were on us.  The waitress was surprised that we needed to look at a menu – literally 1 menu.  That’s all we got between the 3 of us.  After the shoddy service and atmosphere lowered the bar so low, it was a welcoming surprise that our food was pretty good.  Though I’d have been scared to look into the kitchen the prepared our food, the eggs, sausage and homefries that I ordered were hot and didn’t need seasoned. My friends equally enjoyed their cheesy eggs with toast and cheeseburger with fries.  Looking at the burger – sure it looks rough – but it was clearly hand-pressed and cooked to temp.  I’d probably return and get one of those to go.  Eating a nice burger on the grassy northshore might hit the spot one of these days.


Mullin's Diner on Urbanspoon

Rise and Shine, Let’s go to Bob’s

Bobs Diner in Carnegie
Got an ole fashioned cup of joe at Bobs Diner in Carnegie

While we certainly enjoy trying the hip new spots that like to be creative, we also enjoy visiting the local, old-school locations, especially at breakfast time. While passing through Carnegie around 8:00 a.m. this weekend (don’t ask why), we saw quite a crowd of cars in the parking lot of Bob’s Diner. Figuring “if a crowd loves it, then let’s see what the buzz is about,” we went in and found a nice breakfast atmosphere. It was a Saturday morning and the locals were discussing the H.S. football game from the previous night and the staff was pleasant and attentive.  After getting some coffee, I decided to go for the gusto and get the mixed grill.  Or rather it was lack of a decision that lead me to order , since I just couldn’t make up my mind and I wasn’t awake enough to rationalize.  The mixed grill was good, but nothing special.  In fact, I wish there was breakfast sausage in it instead of smoked summer sausage.  I found it filling and very much enjoyed the Mancini’s Italian toast that accompanied it.

Upon the writing of this review, I’ve now discovered that Bob’s Diner has 3 Pittsburgh locations with one more opening in the south hills on Painters Run Road soon.  If nothing else, it is a locally-owned and operated establishment, so pay them a visit if you’re out for breakfast and take in some hearty breakfast food (and even take the time to do some people watching like we did).

Bobs Original Mixed Grill
Bobs Original Mixed Grill (served all day) - Scrambled eggs, home fries, onions, green peppers, sausage, bacon, ham, and cheese, cooked together and piled high with your choice of toast $7.95

Eggs n’at, a Pittsburgh-Proud Breakfast Spot

Student’s at Robert Morris University have something we don’t have. A breakfast joint that would even make YaJagoff’s toes curl in delight. Just down the road from RMU in Moon Township, Eggs N’at wears their Yinzer-ness on their sleeve and it works for them.

Doormat at Eggs n'at
Doormat at Eggs n'at "Welcome Ya' Jagoff"

Pulling into Eggs N’at, TasteBudA had no idea where I found this place. Parking in the back of the building among three cop cars, the first thing that came to mind was “Gee – they must have good donuts.” But as soon as I set food on the doormat leading up to the deck, it was quite clear that it would be a fun breakfast experience. The place was bustling at 8am on a Saturday morning, so we decided to sit at the counter. We were immediately greeted with pleasant service and a hot cup of coffee.

Breakfast Omelette at Eggs N'at
Breakfast Omelette at Eggs N'at served with slices of fresh tomato

Browsing the menu, I immediately got excited over the traditional breakfast fare, not because of the entrees, as much as the side – fresh sliced tomatoes!  I decided on an omelette with marbled rye toast to accompany my tomatoes.  Overall, the dish was a good solid breakfast.  The omelette was well made and filling; the buttered rye toast was a nice change from a traditional sourdough or Italian bread choice.  The tomatoes were a pure delight – fresh and juicy.  Though they happened to have been in-season at the time of our visit, they are offered year-round, so I don’t know if it was the freshness that drew me in or not.  As you can see, I got four slices – expecting only two, it was a very pleasant surprise.  Oh and the best part was it was the entire plate was a mere $7.50.

Eggs Benedict
Eggs Benedict from Eggs N'at in Moon Township

Going for broke, TasteBudA opted for a house specialty Eggs Benedict, which came with a side of Kelly’s homefries.  The dish tasted as good as it looks, according to my TasteBud cohort.  He certainly didn’t leave any evidence left on the plate.

Eggs N' at on UrbanspoonSadly, Moon Township is not in our normal rotation of breakfast destinations, so who knows when we’ll make it back again.  But it may now be my mission to see what other breakfast destinations in Pittsburgh will allow me to add some freshly sliced tomatos to my breakfast orders.

Subway Sub of the Month – August 2012

The Subway Sub of the Month for August 2012 is the Black Forest Ham, Egg and Cheese with Spinach.  This isn’t a revolutionary offering from Subway, but it does ensure that you can order breakfast all day long.  Do you have to get spinach on it? Not at my local Subway.  They’ll honor the $5 footlong price on any egg and ham combination you order.  The real question is what bread to get it on.  My suggestion is to order it on flatbread for that true breakfast taste, because it will be the most reminicient of an english muffin.

Want to make a “Skinny version” of this sandwich, try our pick:

  • Opt for Egg Whites instead of the traditional whole Egg.
  • Flatbread gives you a smidge of fiber, but Italian bread will save you 80 calories per footlong.
  • Skip the Cheese if you can stand it, or if you must, get shredded and ask for a half serving.

Plus, this month’s offering is perfect for all of the school students who will soon be returning to classes for the fall.  During August, while they are enjoying sleeping long hours into the afternoon.  No matter what hour they walk into their local Subway, they’ll be able to get a breakfast footlong for only $5.

Next Month, it appears Subway is going to go off-book and offer “$5 Footlong Faves”.  More details on exactly what that entails will hopefully be available before September 1st rolls around.

Lindos disappoints, food lacks seasoning and service

Steelers Omelet at Lindos
Though it is called a “Steelers Omelet” to be thematic, many will call it a western omelet – ham, sausage, onions, peppers and cheese.

When it comes to breakfast meals, I’d like to think the bar isn’t set too high. Typical breakfast fare includes eggs, pancakes, french toast, waffles, and is sometimes with sides of meat or vegetables. Though breakfast can be fairly monotonous and lacking variety, a restaurant that serves breakfast should concentrate on quality of execution using fresh ingredients. Lindos on Western Ave of the North side (near CCAC and Heinz Field) offers breakfast every day of the week, so we stopped by one morning to check out this cute little space.

Lindos Greek Omelet
Spinach, tomato, gyro meat and feta cheese.

Walking in, the restaurant feels like a stereotypical diner, right down to the vinyl booth seating.  We were quickly sat and offered coffee.  The waitress took our order and it went down hill from there.  The place wasn’t too busy, but there were a few college students taking advantage of the weekend breakfast buffet for only $6.99.

Peek inside Steeler Omelet
A peek inside the Steeler Omelet at Lindos

During the half an hour wait for our omelets to be served, the waitress which took our order was no where to be seen.  Another waitress serviced a nearby table, but ignored our request for coffee refills saying she’d let our waitress know.

Alas, when our omelets arrived they were bland lacking any sort of evidence of being seasoned.  TasteBudA even looked at me and said “Seriously, how often do you see me salt my food.”

Lindos on UrbanspoonWe took enough bites to feel like we’d be tied over until lunch, and then called it quits.  Though we were hoping to discover a viable breakfast location fairly close to home on the northside, we were disappointed with the service and food from Lindos.  Maybe omelets aren’t the way to go at Lindos, but judging from the subpar experience, we will likely not return to give it another shot.

Buckeye Donuts, a college student’s budget breakfast

Breakfast Sandwich
Breakfast sandwich and tater tots - a la 3rd grade.

The Ohio State University is the heart of the northern part of the Columbus.  Instead of being tourists and checking out the swankiest breakfast joint in town, we decided to eat like the local college students at Buckeye Donuts right on N. High Street across the street from OSU Campus.

Offering more than donuts, the inside of Buckeye Donuts features a small diner-style counter with memorabilia on the walls from the 1960s when it first opened.  After ordering at simple breakfast sandwich, coffee and donuts at the register, we luckily scored seats at the counter as folks were leaving.  While the breakfast didn’t exactly make our tastebuds dance with its spunk, it did satisfy our early morning hunger and had us reminiscing the days when we were in college and wanted breakfast for under $5.  The breakfast sandwich was just okay and the tater tots were merely a child-like side.  The donut in the photo is a Crumb Cake donut which was basically a coffee cake donut.  The coffee was served scalding hot, so be careful with your first sip.

Buckeye Donuts on UrbanspoonAside from our breakfast, I found it ironically fun to watch college students come in the door and get a donut and a fountain soda for breakfast – not coffee, a fountain soda!  Oh, those college days …

According to their website, Buckeye Donuts is open 24 hours a day for the early morning risers, mid-day snackers, and even after bar crowd.  Plus, they do happen to offer several fried and grill-top cooked plates throughout the day.

Square Cafe

Square Cafe on UrbanspoonTasteBud B told me he’d never been to Square Cafe before, so I decided to share the experience with him.  We were fortunate to be seated right away because it is a weekend morning hotspot, especially when the weather cooperates and there is outside seating.

I had a very delicious crepe with brie inside, drizzled with honey and covered with fresh fruit.  Very light flavors, but a filling meal.  The food was excellent and the service was great.  Square Cafe put some thought into this dish too – instead of the typical heavy fruit syrup, the honey was sweet and light.  The fruit was very fresh.  Compared to a few weekends ago when TasteBud B chose the better meal at Bistro To Go, today I seemed more pleased with my meal.

TasteBud B went with a very hearty breakfast with some very creative flavors – at least on the menu.  What hit the plate was a slightly different story.  The Square Breakfast with chicken apple sausage, oatmeal raisin pancakes, and scrambled eggs.  The eggs were cooked perfect – and needed no additional seasoning or condiment.  Unfortunately the sausage was dry and the pancake, as you can see was covered in both powdered sugar and a whipped topping.  The whipped topping melted into a milky mess on top of the hot pancake and he just ended up pushing it off to the side.  It was as if the pancake wasn’t cooked completely.  Much like a par-cooked cookie, the middle was a little doughy, which only added to the heaviness of the pancake.

On a bright note, his Cafe Americano was well brewed and only $1.80!  Oh, and how can I forget my Caramel Latte which was phenomenal.  The atmosphere was young and bright.  Great for a morning breakfast spot on a spring day.

Square Cafe on Groupon, March 27, 2011