Monday, September 1, 2008

Over Easy and Cafe Lalibela

For brunch yesterday, Patty and I tried Over Easy for the first time. We arrived at 11am and put our name on a list.
Over Easy - exterior
We waited around twenty minutes and were given a choice of table or counter seating and choose to sit at the counter.
Over Easy - counter seating
Here's a shot of the kitchen from our seats:
Over Easy - kitchen
We waited over five minutes for our server to stop by and take our drink order - "The Over Easy Ice" - Cold brewed (coffee) w/ cinnamon, sweetened condensed milk & cardamom, mint garnish ($3.25). Our server dropped off the drink and left quickly to service another table.

The drink sounded much better on paper than it was. It tasted like a very light ice coffee - neither of us could taste the other listed ingredients (and there wasn't a mint garnish).

We waited at least another five minutes for him to come back and take our food order. Not a good start...

I ordered the French toast with carmelized bananas and pecans ($7) w/ a side of hash browns ($2). Patty had "The Over Easy" - Toasted brioche with spinach, fried egg & bacon sauce ($9).

The French toast was decent - four large pieces of French toast topped w/ carmelized banana, bits of pecans, and powdered sugar. The hash browns were mediocre - the exterior "crust" was okay, but the interior was liked mashed potatoes. I also thought it was overpriced - the portion was about three-and-a-half inches square. You can see the hash browns in the background of this picture:
Over Easy - French toast w/ carmelized bananas and pecans (foreground); side of hash browns (background)
Both of us were unimpressed w/ "The Over Easy". The ingredients kind of blended together and there was no real contrast to this dish.
Over Easy - The Over Easy
Not sure how to describe the food, but nothing at all stood out for me. The quality of the food and ingredients is average.

I did notice that there was quite a bit of uneaten food going back on many of the plates being returned to the kitchen.

Service was below average. Our server seemed kind of scatterbrained - in addition to the ordering delays, we waited another ten minutes after getting our bill for our server to pick up and process our payment.

In my opinion, Matt's Big Breakfast is superior. I would definitely not drive out of my way to go there for breakfast again (unlike Matt's, La Grande Orange, and Cafe ZuZu). If I lived in the neighborhood, I might go occasionally, as an alternative to LGO. Given the choice between Denny's, IHOP, and Over Easy, I might choose Over Easy.

For dinner, we went to Cafe Lalibela. CL is an Ethiopian restaurant in Tempe. It's one of my favorite places in the Valley.
Cafe Lalibela - exterior
We ordered five individual items to share:
  • Asa Wat - Shredded fish simmered with berbere, garlic and onion.
  • Doro Wat - Chicken simmered in kibae, berbere, onion and a tasty combination of seasoning.
  • Yebeg Alicha Sega Wat (lamb) - Lamb cubes simmered in kibae, onion, turmeric and herbs.
  • Misir Wat (lentils) - Red split lentils cooked with onion, berbere and herbs.
  • Tikil Gomen (cabbage) - Lightly spiced cabbage, carrots and potatoes.
I can't remember the exact pricing, but each item was around five dollars.

The items came on a large 18-20" platter with a basket of injera ("a crepe like sourdough bread made from a mixture of teff and wheat flour."). To eat, you use pieces of the injera to scoop up the food.
Cafe Lalibela - platter of five items and injera
We both ate until we were stuffed and had plenty of leftovers to bring home. If you haven't tried Ethiopian food before, I highly recommend Cafe Lalibela.

Places mentioned:

Over Easy
4031 N. 40th St.
Phoenix, AZ 85018

Cafe Lalibela
849 W. University Dr.
Tempe, AZ 85281


Yankee1969 said...

We went to a Chowhound breakfast gathering at Over Easy and had pretty much the same experience as you. Service was abyssmal. The food was "meh". I much prefer Harlow's. We apparently never drank the Matt's Kool-Aid. Our one breakfast there was enough to still turn my stomach several years later.

David SB said...

I haven't tried Over Easy yet, but Lalibela is a favorite. I think it's comparable to some of the restaurants of the Adams-Morgan neighborhood of DC, where I first learned to appreciate Ethiopian food.

Andy said...

Tim -

Harlow's and Ranch House Grille are on my list...

I'm afraid to ask what you ate at Matt's!

David -

I'm headed to DC in a few weeks.

Yankee1969 said...

I think I had a breakfast sandwich or something. There wasn't a lot on Matt's menu that appealed to me. The hash browns are what grossed me out. Just pure nastiness. Super greasy and pretty much burnt. Blech.