Back to basics

Hearty morning fare at Breakfast House Palo Alto

Good morning, Palo Alto. Your eggs are ready. No housemade granola, croissants or grandma's curtains, but the 6-month-old Breakfast House Palo Alto provides plenty of menu options in Midtown.

My dining companion was ecstatic. "I haven't had corned beef hash that's correct in ages!" she said recently. Indeed, the hash was outstanding, with crisp-edged potatoes and juicy strings of corned beef, not the usual mushy mess.

Corned beef hash ($9.99) turns out to be a specialty of Breakfast House. It isn't cheap, but you get lots of identifiable beef and, if you like, the poached eggs in a separate bowl. Breakfast House uses Niman Ranch meats.

As it happened, we ordered another of chef/owner John Hsu's specialties, French toast. The combo gets you two slices of toast with two eggs, two strips of bacon and hash browns or country potatoes ($8.99). A French toast fanatic may prefer four slices ($7.99). Hsu uses mildly sourdough bread in thin slices that soak up the flavor of the egg batter but emerge toasty, not soggy. If "thin" and "buttery" can go together in a sentence, it could be about this French toast. You can also have French toast made out of raisin bread. If you want real maple syrup, warmed, it is $1.60 extra.

Breakfast House Palo Alto tops out at $11.99 for crab cake eggs Benedict. At the low end you can get one large fluffy buttermilk pancake ($2.99) or two eggs with toast and potatoes, fruit or cottage cheese ($5.99). Breakfast is served from 7 a.m. till closing time at 2:30 p.m.

The lunch menu also is available all day, except that they don't use the fryer until 11 a.m., which is nice because doesn't smell like French fries at 8 a.m. Lunch does have a few healthier options among the salads, soups and sandwiches. There is a veggie burger, but nothing fancier than Cobb salad and no pastries or house-baked bread.

Children are more than welcome. The children's menu sticks to standards: hot dogs, grilled cheese, chicken nuggets, cheeseburger and a happy face pancake (bacon strips as the smile, sausages as the eyes). There is one family-size restroom for all, cheerfully decorated with cartoony dinosaurs and space creatures.

Hsu refreshed the former space of Cafe Sophia with bright colors, a sparkling planked floor, and a high ceiling. The restaurant is a sea of tables, easily moved two- and four-tops for different size groups. On a weekday at 9:30 a.m., there were people on laptops, meeting friends, doing work -- and enough distance away that we didn't hear each other's conversations. It could be noisy if full.

On a quiet morning, service was friendly and efficient. A sign up front offers: Please sit down at any clean table.

Hsu was a breakfast/lunch cook before opening his own place in San Carlos, My Breakfast House, which has a playroom for kids.

Breakfast House Palo Alto opened April 11. Hsu said he does not have plans for more locations.

Palo Alto Breakfast House

2706 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto.


Hours: 7 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday. Closed Monday.

Reservations: no

Credit cards: yes

Parking: adjacent lot

Alcohol: no

Highchairs: yes

Outdoor dining: no

Party and banquet facilities: no

Catering: no

Takeout: yes

Noise level: low

Bathroom cleanliness: very good


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