Weekday breakfasts out:: A pleasantly guilty pleasure. And diners are fine, but sometimes a need or a desire for something more comes along. I still remember the giddy-from-lack-of-sleep happiness of breakfast at Balaban's after working a night shift at Barnes. And while Cafe Osage doesn't come quite up to that level of luxury, it can come close, with the sun slanting in through the ivy-draped east windows. (During the week, it's usually quiet, but weekends are another story.)
First time visitors probably ought to be notified that Cafe Osage is surrounded on three sides and must be entered through Bowood Farms, the Central West End garden center, which is its own sort of pleasure. (There's a door to the street, but it's only unlocked for wheelchair access, apparently.)
First things first: Coffee is good, although a tad weak for my taste. Still, it's always a plus when care's been taken with the raw material and a careful cleaning of the equipment.
And then there's the orange juice. It's a running joke with my now-grown children about Mom and orange juice. I really detest the commercial stuff, made from oranges thrown, peel, seeds and all, into a giant compressor. The results are, I think, appalling, and I won't drink it unless it's disguised with an appropriate amount of sparkling wine and perhaps a float of a couple of drops of Grand Marnier. Cafe O's menu says fresh squeezed orange juice, which merely means that it's not been frozen. Orange juice, like wine, begins to change once it's first exposed to air, and the difference between squeeze-it-and-drink-it and squeeze-it-and-hold-it-for-later is remarkable. I may order OJ in a restaurant every three years.
But I did here, and prepared for eye-rolling. But it was not to be. No, it wasn't squeezed to order. But, first of all, it was icy-cold. The balance between sweet and bitter was just right. It was thickish and rich, and I can't imagine what the look on my face must have been.
Sausage is either bison or chicken, and my guess is that the chicken, at least, is made in-house. Fat patties with black pepper and rosemary, perhaps a little sage, arrived moistly juicy but cooked all the way through, and eggs over easy were properly cooked. The house's roasted potatoes worked well with the egg, tender rather than crisp, a hit of garlic and onion in there somewhere, but pretty faint. Multi-grain toast is the side with a small ramekin of thick, fresh-tasting raspberry preserve.
Multigrain also was the focus of pancakes. As is often the case with the multi-grain recipes, they were dense, and the texture inside can either be described as very moist or gummy, but in my experience, oatmeal does that to a pancake batter, so I'm not willing to deduct. The fruit compote of the day was strawberry-rhubarb, spoonably thick and generously served. It was a good combination, although it lacked any textural contrast, or visual, either, since the dark brown and dark red combination lacked any garnish whatsoever. Good bacon, ordered separately, was applewood smoked, from the Wisconsin supplier Nueske's.
Plenty of time and room to spread out and read the morning papers, coffee refills came around intermittently, and the checks arrive in old books. A warning that the tab can mount up; coffee, OJ, pancakes and bacon came to $20.50 before tax and tip, but sometimes morning sun and quiet can be worth as much as a nice view, so indulge.
4605 Olive St.
Credit cards: Yes
Wheelchair access: Fair (see above)
Breakfast entrees: $9-$12