Wednesday, June 1, 2011

“It Was a Dark and Stormy Night…”

Or should it be “The sea was angry, my friend.”

I wasn’t sure how to start this blog, so I thought I would quote both Snoopy (the novelist) and Seinfeld's George Costanza (claiming to be a marine biologist), respectively. Of course, neither of them has anything to do with our (Chuck, Dora, me) breakfast at Le Peep.

As I’ve said many times before, I love breakfast out. While I can make a really good French toast (especially if I have Jewish Challah bread) and Chuck is a master of pancakes, most interesting breakfast foods are ones that I have no intention of making at 9:00 a.m. So when I have the chance to eat at a restaurant with a long and innovative breakfast menu, I jump at it.

“Le Peep is a 45-year-old company based in Littleton, Colo. with about 60 restaurants in 13 states. Illinois has six of them.... Rather than offering franchises, the company licenses its concept to local owners. There is leeway in the menu to add dishes that are popular in the hometown market. The basic menu includes pancakes, waffles, French toast, traditional and egg-white omelets, skillet meals, eggs and breakfast meats” (

In addition to French toast, pancakes, and omelets, Le Peep offers what they call “Classics”: steak and eggs with peasant potatoes and English muffin; The Hen Pen—two eggs, a choice of bacon, sausage, Black Forest ham, or corned beef hash with potatoes and English muffin; Homestead Breakfast—two biscuits covered with sausage gravy sprinkled with chives and served with a pair of eggs and potatoes; Huevos Rancheros—a flour tortilla filled with re-fried beans, eggs, and topped with pork green chili, melted cheese, diced tomatoes, chives, and sour cream; The Breakfast Burrito—a flour tortilla, filled with the choice of chicken, chorizo, bacon, ham or sausage along with two eggs, onions, green chilis, refried beans and potatoes and topped with pork green chili, cheese, tomatoes, sour cream, and chives.

The last two sounded delicious, but I have a fondness for unique takes on eggs Benedict. Here I had my choice of (along with the traditional): the Salmon Benedict—a broiled salmon steak placed on top of cream cheese and a toasted English muffin and finished with poached eggs and rich hollandaise; Crabby Patty Benedict—two crab cakes and topped with poached eggs and cover it with hollandaise; and the Harvest Benedict—an English muffin topped with cream cheese, sautéed spinach and fresh veggies and finished with poached eggs and hollandaise.

My choice, the Harvest Benedict, came with a very large side of what Le Peep calls “Peasant Potatoes.” These were roughly half-inch cubes of skin-on potatoes that were lightly sautéed and tossed with herbs. These were better than your average home or American fries, but I only managed to eat half the portion.

Why? Because the Harvest Benedict was that good, that large, and that rich. As with a typical eggs Benedict, the dish started with a split toasted English muffin which was spread with cream cheese. Then came a very large portion of lightly sautéed vegetables that included tomatoes, broccoli, onion, mushrooms, and spinach.

I was especially impressed with the spinach which had been cooked just to the point of wilting without becoming that awful stuff that Popeye would slurp from a can. Then came two poached eggs. I might have liked the yolks less cooked and more liquid, but I would rather that than slimy whites. And the whole dish was drenched in a rich and mild lemony hollandaise.

Proving again that they are cousins, both Chuck and Dora selected the “Desperado” from the list of skillets. This dish began with a base of the “Peasant Potatoes” and then added chorizo, green chilies, and onions which were covered with house made salsa. Finally, all was capped with cheese and basted eggs. (A basted egg is one cooked sunny-side up, but with the top cooked by "basting". It's often basted with hot fat from the pan, but some people do it with hot water instead. (Chuck’s were basted with water.) Instead of the basted eggs, Dora chose scrambled (below).

I was so busy snarfing down my Harvest Benedict that I almost forgot to taste Chuck’s Desperado. I finally speared a chunk of chorizo (mild, but flavorful), salsa (again, mild, but fresh), and a potato. It was good, but I liked mine better. Chuck has ordered sourdough toast instead of the English muffin and I managed to tear off a piece to wipe every trace of hollandaise and egg yolk from my dish.

A very good breakfast that would have been 5.0 Addies, if not for the slightly overcooked poached eggs. Still, a solid 4.5 Addies, and we will keep our eyes out for Le Peeps as we meander on down the road.

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