Monday, January 24, 2011

Chuck Deserves the Credit…

for finding this place.

We arrived yesterday in San Marcos, TX—a town of about 53,000 midway between San Antonio and Austin. After three days on the road, all we wanted to do was go to breakfast, buy groceries, and watch some football. My very brief internet search didn’t produce any good breakfast leads. Then Chuck suggested that I look at the web site for the Root Cellar Café & Gallery and click on the lunch menu. And there was the Root Cellar’s breakfast menu. Who’d a thunk it?

“It’s easy to miss this little gem, tucked away off the square. The atmosphere is hippie romantic, the walls are stone, and there are lots of wine bottles and eclectic art scattered about.... Natives say breakfasts are excellent, especially on Sundays” (from texasmonthly.com).

The café is located a few steps below street level and the sills on the arched windows are even with the sidewalk. By the low ceiling, thick supporting columns, and rough textured walls (now painted white to better display the art), you immediately know that, indeed, you are in a cellar. The floor is made of polished wooden planks and the “mix and match” tables and chairs remind you of a country kitchen.

San Marcos is home to Texas State University, and after a brief examination of our fellow diners, we made the rash assumption that most were affiliated with the University. Although I will admit that the professorial looking gentleman in a Texas State sweatshirt may have given us some clue.

The breakfast menu isn’t overly long, but almost everything sounded delicious. Listed under “Plates” were: the Hearty Frittata with sautéed grape tomatoes, and your choice of toast, bagel or English muffin; the Breakfast Sampler—two eggs served with a choice of ham, bacon, sausage or turkey bacon, fruit salad, and toast, bagel or English muffin; the Skillet Eggs and Red Potatoes with sautéed onions and sautéed grape tomatoes served with toast, bagel or English muffin; the Migas—two eggs scrambled with black beans, tortilla chips, and pico de gallo then topped with cheddar cheese and served with fruit salad; the Breakfast Wrap—a 12” tortilla, filled with scrambled eggs and choice of ham, bacon, turkey bacon, or sausage and cheddar cheese; and the Veggie Wrap with sautéed spinach, onions, tomato, egg, and cheddar.

The “House Favorites” included: the Baker’s Bagel spread with honey-sweetened cream cheese and smothered in grilled cinnamon apples; the Brazilian French Toast soaked in vanilla rum sauce and topped with cinnamon sugar; Belgian Waffles served with maple syrup and butter; and the Yogurt Parfait—low-fat vanilla yogurt layered with fresh fruit and crunchy granola.

Eggs Benedict are only available Saturday and Sunday from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Since we were there on the right day and at the right time, I ordered the Eggs Florentine version with sautéed spinach and two poached eggs, served with hollandaise sauce with a choice of fruit or home-style potatoes. Since I saw that the fruit included a large orange slice, I chose the potatoes.

I asked that the whites of my eggs be poached until they were no longer runny. Unfortunately, this resulted in a harder yolk than I would have liked, but given my choice of runny whites or harder cooked yolks, I’ll take the latter. The spinach was sautéed until just barely wilted, and I think that I tasted just the faintest hint of garlic. The hollandaise was rich and buttery, but did seem light on the lemon.

The potatoes were sixteenth-of-an-inch thick slices of red skinned potatoes and reminded me of what my mother called “cold fried” potatoes. By this she meant that the potatoes weren’t pre-cooked but went into the frying pan raw. I forgot to ask that they be cooked crisp, but they were still delicious.

Chuck selected the Migas, a dish we first encountered at Harry’s Roadside in Santa Fe, NM. In Tex-Mex cooking, migas is a popular breakfast dish, usually made with scrambled eggs, crushed corn tortilla chips, plus additional ingredients. The Root Cellar’s version included black beans and a chunky pico de gallo (a fresh condiment made with tomatoes, onions, and green peppers) and came with a flour tortilla, a small bowl of cantaloupe, grapes, and oranges, and a small cup of a mild-to-medium picante sauce.

Of course, he added a side of the home-style potatoes. While I found the eggs to be a bit dry, I can’t fault the taste of the egg/ tortilla/pico de gallo/ black bean combina-tion. And the texture contrast between the coarsely crushed chips and the soft eggs was great.

As we were leaving, I discovered that the large object hanging by the doors was not a Chinese
Checkers board as I thought but an advertising sign for the café’s house-brewed Belgian-style beers. This bears further investigation—all in the interest of science you understand.

Well, congratulations to Chuck for finding this 4.5 Addie breakfast restaurant.

2 comments:

charlottew said...

Welcome to San Marcos! Please stop by the Tourist Information Center and find out all the fun things to do and great places to eat while you are here. --Charlotte

mcraywood said...

Oh now my husband is really getting the travel bug with you two being in his home state! He said don't forget to visit the town of Gruene and also the Natural Bridge Caverns. And if you hear a knock on the door of the RV - make up the couch! Enjoy!
Love from Wycombe - 1 degree temp yesterday and snow/ice coming tomorrow - Mary!