Choosing good restaurants in Philadelphia can be a daunting task because there are so many great ones. We met some friends out in the City of Brotherly Love on a cold and blustery weekend in January 2013. The guys were there for a show and the ladies opted for an evening at Tria, a hip wine bar that offers small plates, a variety of cheese, and choice craft beer. The small plate highlights for me were two bruschettas: truffled mushroom with fontina and pistachio herbed ricotta with lavender honey. The mushrooms were meaty and full of earthy fragrance and paired nicely with the creamy and slightly sweet herbed ricotta that was mounded on crunchy slices of bread. As much as I enjoyed the food at Tria, as well as a traditional Belgian dinner of moules-frites the night before at Eulogy Tavern, my most favorite and memorable meal was at Green Eggs Cafe.
There are three Green Eggs Cafe locations in Philadelphia, in South Philly, Northern Liberties, and Midtown Village. We stayed at the Alexander Inn in Center City and our friends were staying in Rittenhouse Square. We chose the Midtown Village location because it was fairly close to where we all were staying. The neighborhood seemed very nice and I noticed several parents out and about, pushing strollers, and many people out walking their happy hounds. Across the street is a pediatrician and right beside the restaurant is a business offering classes to kids, like art and music.
We didn’t know we had come upon the Green Eggs Cafe at first because we didn’t see any signage out front, but the large hungry crowd alerted me that we may have found it. There were two hostesses standing outside with menus and I gave them my name for The List. For as large as the crowd was, it didn’t take long to be seated, maybe 10 minutes from the time we got there. We were guided inside and everything was modern, bright, and clean. Tables were full and faces were smiling. There was the sound of laughter, silverware tapping plates, and I couldn’t wait to sit down and get some of the good stuff I spied on the menu.
Stuff like scrapple (always a personal favorite). Chicken and waffles benedict. Creme brulee french toast or tiramisu french toast. Red velvet pancakes. Quinoa porridge.
And those are just the breakfast dishes that struck me as inventive and fun.
Me? I settled for the pork belly benedict. Pork belly is like scrapple, if I see it on the menu then I have to order it. This pork belly was roasted in maple syrup so both the melty, fatty portion and the tender, meaty portion had a stunning combination of sweet and salty. The eggs were poached beautifully, jiggly when I shuffled the plate from side to side, and breaking into a sunny cascade over the toasted brioche when I plunged the tines of my fork into them. Instead of hollandaise sauce, this benedict had a rosemary-maple cream sauce, which pulled together all elements of the dish. There were some pickled red onion slices on top and i definitely could have eaten a bowl just of that!
Heaven on a plate.
I opted for rosemary potatoes on the side and they were sliced homefries as expected, but with lots of fresh rosemary that added an herby pop of flavor to what is often just a boring and forgettable breakfast starch.
The scrapple was sliced just thick enough to allow a perfect fried crunch on all sides while still offering a creamy, porky center. It was heavily peppered and had a nice fine texture. It tasted like home.
To drink, I ordered a large orange juice, coffee, and water. I’m an enthusiastic drinker, people.
Green Eggs Cafe composts all the food that doesn’t get eaten as well as any other organic material that can be included. Their to-go containers are entirely biodegradable (and will cost you a quarter, which is a small price to pay, in my opinion). They grow their own herbs and spices and source ingredients that are locally produced. They recycle. What a refreshing business practice! In our someday-maybe brewpub, these are all ideas I would like to implement in our own business model because it’s important for everyone to do their part to make our community a better place.
Be advised that this is a cash-only establishment so make sure you plan ahead in that regard.
If you’re on the hunt for excellent restaurants in Philadelphia, put Green Eggs Cafe at the top of your list!