Once upon a time I didn't like breakfast, didn't eat breakfast except rarely and had nothing to say about it except to hit the snooze alarm. Then my very first editor told me I was going to be writing a column about breakfasts at restaurants. One begins to remember the old W.C. Fields line, "It was a woman that drove me to drink. I never got to thank her."
I was then about to make my first visit to Northern California, a land of many interesting morning meals, and the die thus was cast. Now when I travel, there's always a quest for good breakfasts, especially those that are a little, or a lot, different. A recent trip to Kansas City gave some good possibilities near the Plaza. Near, not on the Plaza, and a good chance to explore nearby neighborhoods.
There are two locations for eggtc. (yes, no caps and a period is part of the name), one on the Kansas side, and the original, south of the Plaza. It's a double storefront with plenty of street parking. As a bonus, if you're sans auto and staying on the Plaza, they actually deliver. (And it'll probably cost less than your room service breakfast would.) Very casual and very local, although there was a St. Louisan at the next table, to judge by his conversation.
It's a large menu that allows for plenty of customization of food (10 meat options, for instance), both at lunch and breakfast, and, if you're in need of a bloody Mary to go with your apple and goat cheese omelet or the Banatella French toast, they've got a bar, too. I tried the despierto burrito, "despierto" translating as "wake up" or "alert". Flour tortilla, scrambled eggs with chorizo that was properly seasoned despite lacking the orange coloring traditionally associated with it, cheddar cheese and diced onion on the inside, and a marvellous, sharp mango-tomato pico de gallo atop it along with some sour cream. Excellent, indeed. Unfortunately, the rapidly-becoming-ubiquitous "breakfast potatoes", which seems no longer to be a catchall phrase but potato chunks from a fryer, popped up here, too. Nothing technically wrong with them, but a disappointment on an imaginative menu.
Very good coffee kept warm with frequent refills, too.
5017 Main St., Kansas City, MO
Breakfast and Lunch daily
North of the Plaza, 39th Street is lined with non-chain shops and small businesses, plus restaurants. One of the most serious of them is Room 39, with a focus on local ingredients and close relationships with farmers. It's a small spot, although, it, too, has expanded to the Kansas side of the state line with a second location. It reminded me of the early version of Duff's, but with the flourish of chairs that all matched.
The breakfast menu is alluring, plenty of seductive options, but the meal should start with the orange juice that's squeezed to order, a real luxury. Biscuits and gravy offered a vegetarian option of mushroom gravy, and that was a serious possibility. But I was glad I ordered the baked eggs. Mundane sounding? Maybe, but not in the mouth, or even to the eye. A round of brioche had been hollowed out on top, a thin slice of salami and another of gruyere cheese nestled in the hollow and a couple of eggs broken into the nest. That was baked, the bread and cheese and meat crisping up where it was exposed to the heat. The optional truffle oil was the crowning touch. This is the most luxurious breakfast dish I've come across in a long time, with the rich flavor, the myriad of textures - just blissful. A bowl of fruit alongside was a fine contrast.
Alas, breakfast potatoes here, too, although it was pieces of creamy young potatoes, which was a nice touch. And fine coffee, strong and serious.
Both these spots, and a couple of other places I went, as the check was paid, offered to refill my beverage and put it in a go cup, a notable touch of grace.
1719 W. 39th St., Kansas City, MO
Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Mon.-Sat.