Weekend brunches and weekday breakfasts can certainly be enjoyed in the comfort of one’s home kitchen. But going out for a casual breakfast can give your workday a cheery beginning or going out for a fancy brunch can make a celebration both special and thrifty. For either occasion, going out for a morning meal in the winter means more light through windows and better views onto beach or bay. The following suggestions offer a wide range of options throughout southern Rhode Island.
Starting in East Greenwich, there are four go-to spots: T's Restaurant (locations also in Narragansett and Cranston), Jigger’s Hill and Harbour Diner, Ed’s Roost and 1149 Restaurant.
T's Restaurant is a Rhode Island icon; its Park Avenue Cranston location opened in 1986, and the eggs, coffee and mimosa empire has expanded to two other spots in South County. Owners Tina and Anthony Tomaselli (T's!) and Mark Blanchard exude a passion for great food and excellent service, and there is no better way to start your day than with one of their signature omelets paired with a steamy cup of joe (or a sparkly champagne drink). Oh, and if you're wondering who painted that gorgeous Rhode Island landscape hanging above your breakfast booth, you don't have to look far... Anthony Tomaselli is also a celebrated fine artist. 5600 Post Road, East Greenwich, 398-7877. 1059 Park Ave Cranston, 946-5900. 91 Point Judith Rd, Narragansett, 284-3981.
Named after “Jigger” Lindberg, who ran a food cart on the spot from 1917, Jigger’s moved into its current Worcester Dining Car in 1950. Current owners Stephen and Karie Head continue to emphasize homemade meals, including their own Black Angus hash and Jigger’s signature jonnycakes. The Benedicts come in several variations, including the Santa Fe with jonnycakes, salsa, black beans and avocado. And the nine different three-egg omelets include three with a spicy flavor as well: chicken fajita; Southwest with black bean/beef chili; and Mexican egg white with black beans, avocado and cheddar.
Jigger’s gingerbread pancakes have many fans, and so does their option of fresh fruit for home fries. 145 Main Street, East Greenwich. 884-6060.
The rooster motif at Ed’s Roost is fun to follow, along shelves, in the front window, in the transom above the door and, yes, even on mugs and plates. And what arrives on those plates is generous indeed: three-egg omelets so large they almost drip off the side of the plate, with many cheese, meat and veggie options; “John’s Hearty Breakfast,” named after owner/cook John Rotondi, which has bacon, sausage, ham, a good-sized pancake and a slice of Texas French toast; terrific red bliss home fries and a tasty house-made corned beef hash. 357 Main Street, East Greenwich. 885-3358
1149 is a different world from diner food. The Sunday brunch features a live jazz guitarist in an elegant setting with expansive buffet stations ($26.95 adult; $13.95 child). At the soup and salad table, the signature clam and corn chowder and the tomato/fresh mozzarella salad are winners. There are omelets, Benedicts (pictured above) and pasta dishes prepared to order; a carving station with two meats from prime rib, pork loin or turkey breast. A huge fruit salad, an unending pastry bar, plus breakfast favorites such as Belgian waffles, apple-wood smoked bacon and three-potato hash and a handful of lunch favorites drawn from the regular menu round out the cornucopia of choices that might make you linger for hours. 1149 Division Road, East Greenwich. 884-1149.
A casual place with incredibly tasty breakfasts is the Beach Rose Cafe, which is nestled on the edge of Wickford Harbor, with a good view of boats, ducks and water reflections even through the winter (there’s a deck for warmer months). The usual suspects show up on the blackboard menu: omelets with a choice of fillings; breakfast sandwiches with a choice of meats; from-scratch muffins; breakfast burritos; and, the most popular item: the Popeye Big Bowl, a mound of spinach with an egg on top. 85 Brown Street, North Kingstown. 295-2800.
Moving south and across the West Passage, Jamestown has three quite different spots for brunch: casual but distinctively gourmet; elegant and nouvelle cuisine; or “Blues, Bloodies & Brunch.” The latter is at the Narragansett Cafe, a never-a-cover live music and dance venue popular for their weekend breakfast pizzas and their Sunday afternoon blues bands. Brunch food is drawn from the Ganny’s regular pub and burger menu and includes stuffies, coconut shrimp, clam chowder and chili, with burgers, salads and other sandwiches. Most popular are the crab cakes, the blackened cod and the steak over greens, good stokin’ for the dance floor! 25 Narragansett Avenue, Jamestown. 423-2150.
Slice of Heaven (their hand rolled bagel with smoked salmon is pictured above) is a European style bakery, restaurant and cafe, serving breakfast every day, with the breakfast burrito, one of my favorites, as well as the Grand Marnier French toast (croissant, whipped cream, real maple syrup – heaven, indeed!). The weekend brunch menu adds three Benedicts, including another favorite: eggs Copenhagen – with smoked salmon. Try to save room for one of their made-from-scratch baked goods (or take some home). The scones are scrumptious, the tarts tantalizing, the croissants crushing, the muffins munchable, plus many more temptations. 32 Narragansett Avenue, Jamestown. 423-9866.
From heavenly to celestial is just a few steps down the street at Jamestown Fish (several Sunday brunch dishes are only prepared from mid-October to mid-May, with the exception of January, when the restaurant is closed). Those special egg preparations include two very unusual ones: “Fabio’s eggs,” the whites scrambled to a beautiful deep orange with tomatoes, garlic, hot pepper and parsley, the yolk on top, served over steamed spinach and toasted country bread; and Oeufs en Meurette, poached eggs nested in an earthy sauce of bacon, red wine, shallots and mushrooms. A brioche French toast and a frittata with artichokes also beckoned. But you could indulge in dessert as well: roasted chestnut torte with persimmon puree, anyone? 14 Narragansett Avenue, Jamestown. 423-3474.
Dipping into Narragansett, check out these two quite different brunch/breakfast hang-outs: the Coast Guard House, with a revamped Sunday brunch menu and those long vistas across the Bay; and Crazy Burger Cafe, a cozy retro-hippie spot with inven- tive breakfast dishes.
The Coast Guard House offers eight brunch dishes, plus its lunch menu, with burgers, lobster rolls, prime rib, grilled swordfish, salmon, steak or chicken, soups and “odds and ends,” such as grapefruit brulee or baked potato with lobster. A half-dozen cocktails include a Bellini and a Bloody Hector (with Tequila). The two brunch dishes that stand out are the baked eggs in polenta and the noodle bowl with ramen, pork, a poached egg and veggies. 40 Ocean Road, Narragansett. 789-0700.
Crazy Burger has a breakfast menu that takes a bit of study, because there are so many options, including vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and full-on carnivore. House specialties include (but are not limited to): zucchini latkes; three popular tofu dishes; quesadillas (pictured above) with turkey or vegan sausage; and two customer favorites: crepes Marie, with scrambled eggs, goat cheese, roasted peppers, sun-dried tomatoes; and, to split with a companion: the Baja Beach Breakfast, eggs scrambled with turkey sausage, black beans, salsa and cheddar, in a tomato tortilla with home fries, a small juice (from the juice bar) and, wait for it... a bulging cinnamon bun! 144 Boon Street, Narragansett. 783-1810.
In two corners of Wakefield village are a cafe and a diner, and smack next to each other in Matunuck are two beach bars worth a taste! Bluebird Cafe is tucked into an L-shaped retail strip; it appeared in the mid-‘90s as a branch of a New Orleans cafe and has held onto its Cajun/Creole/Southern roots in its menu and in the historic Tipitina’s posters on the walls. The huevos rancheros, verduras rancheros (mixed grilled veggies) and pollo rancheros are huge favorites with regulars. Others mix it up with grits and biscuits next to their eggs (any style) or house-made hash, build-you-own omelets or powerhouse eggs (fortified with nutritional yeast, tamari and cheese). There are also always blackboard specials, including breakfast burritos and specialty corn muffins. 554 Kingstown Road, Wakefield. 792-8940.
Phil’s Diner, whoops, Phil’s Main Street Grille, is a Wakefield institution. In the ‘70s and ‘80s, it functioned as just a diner where the best seat in the house was at the counter, watching the speedy cook. In the past five years, they started serving dinners, opened up “The Loft” upstairs and created a rooftop dining area for warm weather months. So now, in addition to the regular diner foods offered downstairs for breakfast – eggs, terrific home fries and meats; pancakes, waffles and French toast; omelets and breakfast sandwiches, there’s a whole brunch menu upstairs. That menu adds on Benedicts, ranchero variations, and an overflowing breakfast burrito that makes two meals! 323 Main Street, Wakefield. 783-4073.
Down in Matunuck are two side-by-side music venues – Tara’s Tipperary Tavern and the Ocean Mist and they both serve breakfasts with a view onto pounding surf and the waters of Block Island Sound. Well, Tara’s view would be limited to warm weather on their back deck, but you can down a hefty Irish breakfast on winter weekends in the pub. The official “Irish Breakfast” includes rashers (bacon), homemade hash, baked beans, fried tomatoes, bangers (sausage), home fries and toast. And what could be better to top that off than an Irish coffee? The hash is made from brisket that is slowly house-roasted; the rashers and bangers are imported; and Tara’s lovely brogue takes any customer back to the Emerald Isle itself. 907 Matunuck Beach Road, Wakefield. 284-1901.
The Ocean Mist has seats at the back of the bar that look out on the beach (there’s a deck for warmer weather), and they have great breakfasts, including “something on a bagel,” your choice of veggies, meats, cheeses, surrounded by tasty sides; and large fluffy omelets stuffed with your choice of the above, plus sides. But it’s their Tex-Mex specials and their Benedict specials, along with their highly-acclaimed Bloody Marys and Mimosas that keep the locals – from URI students to their parents and grandparents – coming back for more. And there’s nothing quite like a winter storm sending surf swirling around the posts that hold up the building or lashing up against the windows for ad- venture with your brunch. 895 Matunuck Beach Road, Wakefield. 782-3740.
South of Westerly’s downtown is the seaside village of Watch Hill and just outside the village sits an unassuming cafe, The Cooked Goose, with the most delicious eggs dishes ever (one is pictured above), plus excellent service and a warm, community feel to the dining room. Favorites include the Florentine Benedict, with spinach and tomato, and the Cooked Goose truffled eggs, with asparagus, fontina and white truffle oil. The vanilla almond French toast, the bagel platter deluxe and the homemade pastries are also swoon-worthy. Plus there are inspired specials from Andrew Nathan’s kitchen every day: house-made pastrami, onions and Swiss cheese scrambled with eggs, served over hash browns and topped with sour cream. Or bull’s eye pancakes with chicken sausage in the middle? Or sausage gravy over buttermilk biscuits? Yum. 92 Watch Hill Road, Westerly. 348-9888.
Down Westerly-way, the first brunch you come to is an old-fashioned inn and restaurant, the Shelter Harbor Inn. This former 19th Century farmhouse prides itself on being open 365 days a year, so whether you come on a holiday or a weekend or a weekday, you can dive in to banana-walnut, blueberry muffin or another variation of French toast (with bacon, sausage or Canadian bacon); crab cakes Benedict; jonnycakes with sunny-side eggs on top; hot cakes with fresh berries; corned beef hash with house-made red pepper sauce and poached eggs; eggs Florentine; or a house-made quiche with mixed greens. Sunday brunch might shake things up a bit, with “specials,” plus there is a full bar at Shelter Harbor, and a cocktail or glass of wine might be in order. 10 Wagner Road, Westerly. 322-8883.
Coming into “downtown Westerly,” there are many retail strips, and tucked away in the Granite Hills Shopping Center is Kelley’s Deli, featuring authentic Irish fare, with rashers and bangers in full swing as well as owner Kevin Kelley’s grandmother’s potato cakes. Kelley mashes the potatoes, but leaves a bit of texture inside. He mixes them with just enough salt, pepper and herbs to bring out the potato flavor, and he pan-fries them to a golden crispness. The omnipresent corned beef hash and bangers (steamed pork sausages Kelley gets from Brooklyn) enhance many of the breakfast items, and the Irish Benedict is spiffed up with Irish bacon. Their omelets and breakfast sandwiches go way beyond those Irish touches, with the exception of an omelet filling of bangers and whiskey-grilled onions. 116 Granite Street, Westerly. 596-9896.
Not too far from Kelley’s, on the edge of one of the traditional Italian neighborhoods, is the Oak St. B & B (for burgers and breakfasts). One thing that distinguishes this diner is a serve-yourself system: dispense your own coffee, tea, cocoa or even water from two shelves set up to do so (there are ceramic mugs); study the menu or the blackboard and then go to the counter to order. Two unusual preparations are the house-made hash made from slow-roasted sirloin; and the Eggs Benedicto and the Westerly omelet that use fresh Westerly Packing soupy (sopressata sausage, similar to an Italian dry salami). There are other meat-heavy dishes, such as the center-cut chop with eggs and “bacon hollan- daise”; and a flank steak dusted with coffee rub and glazed with a mushroom Gorgonzola cream. 87 Oak Street, Westerly. 315-2520.