Friday, October 19, 2012

Paging Adam Richman

Paging Adam Richman.

But I get ahead of myself.

We headed out for breakfast to a nearby restaurant that Phoenix Magazine named Best Breakfast of 2011. Heart & Soul Café is located in a new shopping center out in what I call the Cave Creek vicinity. From the outside, the café looks like any other shopping center restaurant.

But inside it's another story.

Antique gas pumps compete for attention

with a crystal chandelier over the dark wood bar. The walls were hung with modern paintings evocative of Native Americans and cowboys, and

a rhinestone incrusted chandelier hung over the waitress and cashier station.

But dominating the room was a ’57 Chevy waxed to a high gloss.

Kitty Humbug couldn’t resist the urge to sit on a fender and imitate the Geico pig who squeals “WEEEEEEWEEEEEEWEEEEE” in the most annoying voice possible.
How annoying? Let me quote from “OMG kill me now before I have to listen to this again. The pig in the backseat of the minivan squeals VERY annoyingly for almost the entire 30 seconds. I will NEVER get Geico due to this and their other horrible ads.”

Or from “I have been disappointed in Geico's commercials for the several years. Their green mascot has been flat and boring. Now we have to listen to a squealing pig. First the pig is riding in a mini van squealing all the way home. That's really annoying! Now the pig is flying down a zip-line squealing. Who is your audience for this commercial? You lost me the first time you introduced a pig.”

But back to breakfast. “Don’t go to Heart & Soul Café if a) you’re not hungry or b) you’re on a diet. Sure, they have a ‘fitness frittata,’ but there are platters of far more glorious calories to consider. To wit: bacon-studded blueberry pancakes as big as the plate or terrific green chile pork chilaquiles or jalapeño beef tenderloin hash….. The ‘crazy’ split biscuit—one half topped with creamy, thyme-scented pork and sausage gravy and the other with rich, green chile pork verde, served with eggs and roasted potatoes…”(

But the dish that the café is known for is something called the Suicide Stack consisting of thirteen layers of goodness to feed a group of four. It includes a biscuit bottom, chicken fried steak, green pork chili, scrambled eggs with cheese, chicken fried ham steak, red eye gravy with pinto bean, hash brown potatoes, jalapeno cheese sauce, scrambled eggs with cheese (again), buttermilk fried chicken breast, country pork gravy, biscuit top, and three fried stuffed jalapeno peppers. This is a job for Adam Richman—he of the Travel Channel’s Man v. Food. Remember, he’s the guy that does the massive eating stunts.

But we resisted the Suicide Stack and each of us ordered one of the café’s specialty pancakes. But before out breakfasts arrived at the table, our server presented us with what they would call on Top Chef an amuse bouche—“a little bite of food to amuse the mouth and invigorate the palate” (—in the form of a small bowl of their green pork chili and a few tortilla chips.
The chile, made with tomatillos, three varieties of peppers, lime, cilantro, and pork, carried quite a kick and proved to be a bit overpowering for Chuck—especially at breakfast.

My choice of pancakes was the Bacon Blue—two blueberry and bacon pancakes served with eggs your way. And my way was over easy.
Now I am going to say words that I thought I would never see come off my computer—the pancakes had too much bacon. I would have liked less bacon and more blueberries. They were just missing the right balance of salty and tart. But I can’t fault the size of the portion and at least a third of the pancakes went home for reheating the next morning.

Chuck selected the Granola Raspberry Pancake—two raspberry pancakes topped with homemade granola with lots of nuts and a side order of bacon.
This was more like it. The raspberries gave these pancakes the mouth awakening tartness that mine lacked.

And what would a meal for Chuck be without potatoes? He ordered a side of roasted potatoes that was a mix of Peruvian purples, sweet potatoes, and yellow russets.
If you ask me—and no one did—I think that they could have been more roasted. There was very little browning. No intensification of the natural sugars—especially in the sweet potatoes.

The best breakfast in Phoenix? I’m not sure that I would agree. Still, it was a satisfactory 3.5 Addie meal.

To review the role of Adler, Kitty Humbug, and the Addie rating system, read the November 14, 2011 blog.

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