Where the prevailing theme in restaurant design calls for dark paneled walls and Scandinavian noir, Larry Hanes’s playful gastro-cafe goes into the light. Marble bistro tables and vintage metal Tolix chairs imported from France are arranged against floor-to-ceiling windows. Battered Orangina signs, old hotel china, loads of salvaged subway tile, and a magnificent 1950s manual Italian Gaggia espresso machine have all come here to retire in style. How could you not start your day properly in such a setting?
The menu is equally quaint, short and sweet, with a focus on brunch. The lineup includes truffled egg brioche (a buttery slab of bread with fontina and chopped asparagus), and sweet potato hash studded with chorizo and black beans, served with a dollop of lime-zested creme fraiche. A Bistro Salad topped with warm Capriole goat cheese and a Chinese herbal tea egg redolent of cinnamon and star anise is a work of culinary art.
The only restaurant in the Midwest to carry the coveted Blue Bottle Coffee out of San Francisco, Eggshell takes coffee-making seriously. The menu calls out two coffee blends, two single-origin coffees, a roster of Hayes Valley espresso drinks, and two iced coffees (one of them the sweet, potent “New Orleans,” mixed with chicory and topped with raw sugar and organic whole milk) brewed by way of a 14-hour slow-drip process. There is no mention of flavorings or syrups, no fripperies of whipped cream or chocolate. No free refills, either. So don’t ask.
Just enjoy it while it lasts.
>> SIMILAR TASTES
Other gilded bistros were working their magpie charms long before Eggshell Bistro made its debut. Petite Chou (14390 Clay Terrace Blvd., Carmel, 566-0765; 823 Westfield Blvd., 259-0765; cafepatachou.com) sparks a craving for crepes and broken yolk sandwiches in a dining room that looks like Martha Hoover’s Pinterest board > The brunch crowd gravitates to Good Morning Mama’s (1001 E. 54th St., 255-3800, goodmorningmamas.com) for innovative breakfast-to-brunch fair in a brightly refurbished car repair shop. We love the Hoosierfied Hawaiian Loco Moco with cheesy grits and sausage gravy, and the blueberry pancakes.
Photo by Tony Valainis.
This article originally appeared in the May 2012 issue.