Egg and I No More
Sunnyside Up inhabits local scene, breaks corporate ties
It’s no surprise to most people that I earnestly love breakfast. It does present a conundrum though, as I refuse to wake up even a minute earlier than I absolutely must. Even more so, keeping the eye open for new local places to try always presents a tough quest, one of delicately balancing free time, money, open-mindedness and hoping that they aren’t so busy that you end up waiting far too long to get down to munching. Of all these places, one had always caught my eye, out of interest alone. The Egg and I has sat in its home in the Heights for many years now, but inexplicably one day, it was gone and in its place sat Sunnyside Up. A brief look at their website confirmed that they are now their own, local entity, which made them ripe for me to swing by and finally do a review.
What I noticed when I walked in was that it was incredibly busy for a Friday morning at 10am. We’re talking about full-on wait time for a seat, though it was a remarkably short wait (under 3 minutes, I would estimate) all things considered. The point is, few breakfast spots in the city have this level of business on good days so it’s shocking to see on a weekday this late in the breakfast hours. The other thing I noticed was how friendly it was. Maybe it’s just the nature of breakfast in general, but everyone was talking with each other, staff was smiling and chatting with tables even in the midst of busy chaos, and it just felt warm and happy to be in there.
Before I go on, I want to resolve the unspoken question in the room. From my inside source, Amy, who was such a genuine and kind waitress that I would go so far as to recommend you ask for her next time you’re in, ownership of the location went to the local franchise owners as the corporate office declined to come in and add updates to this location compared to the rest of the country. What this means is that now, Sunnyside Up has flexibility and control over every decision they make. They are welcomed into the arms of the city as a local business now, and free to do as they please. Okay, back to the food.
I did their Classic Eggs Benedict ($9.99), the Mexican Skillet ($9.99) and on Amy’s recommendation, the Strawberry Banana Waffle ($10.29). Let’s start with the waffle, because my sweet tooth won out over my savory tooth. A golden Belgian waffle topped with strawberries, bananas, toasted walnuts, whipped cream and powdered sugar galore, it invoked the childlike joy of that magical fruit combo, along with the cheer of a truly well-made waffle, all on one plate. The waffle was crunchy on the outside, with the inside still this perfect fluffy joy you need in your life. The whipped cream is doing its best to stay standing but is beginning its slow melt across the waffle, as the heat breaks it down into a sweet and gooey mess. The fruit is clearly fresh cut with no strange frills added, allowing it to be good on the merit of its own existence. With a side of butter and a container of syrup, you’ve got a huge plate that is a childhood dream come true.
The Mexican Skillet was next, with chorizo, refried beans, green chile, tomatoes, onions, ranch potatoes, pepper jack cheese, two eggs, your choice of red or green (or Christmas in my case) and a tortilla. The serving dish it came in was overflowing when it got to me, a molten eruption of different flavors and ingredients with two massive over-medium eggs on top. I quickly shredded the eggs and gave it a good mix, letting everything coalesce into a solitary bowl of happiness. It had the heat I craved, both on the spicy side and the temperature side. Additionally, the chorizo was wonderful and had a bit of a peppery kick to it that added to the flavors in the rest of the dish. The onions still had good crispiness to them, letting the rest of the food have a little more substance and not feeling like one big gooey pile. This was a solid skillet I was disappointed to finish eating.
Finally, I took on the Classic Eggs Benedict. Yes, they do more creative ones with different ingredients, but when you get down to it, there’s a reason classic eggs Benny is still king, and it’s because it’s an unbeatable combination. Two poached eggs on ham atop an English muffin, all topped with a creamy Hollandaise and herbs. It was that creamy, rich, buttery and dreamy Hollandaise sauce that made the dish pop. Yes, the ham was good, and the eggs were cooked correctly, but that sauce. It’s one of those few things in life that are very easy to do wrong and incredibly hard to get just right, yet here, they’ve got it down to near-science. It’s a genuinely amazing breakfast classic, and Sunnyside Up does it genuinely well.
It’s not terribly common to see a national chain convert to local, though arguably it’s not terribly common for that to happen in the opposite direction either. But it does provide an interesting point to look at. The shift happened in September of last year, so we’re officially at a point where they’ve been entirely on their own for nearly 4 months. What will the future bring for them a year from now? Five years? For now, they’ve proved they know what they’re doing and don’t need some big corporate board to help them. They’re one of us now, and we should be thankful that the Heights has more breakfast options to choose from.
6909 Menaul Blvd. NE
Hours: Mon-Fri: 6am-2:30pm Sat-Sun: 7am-2:30pm
Vibe: Friendly breakfast and lunch diner
Alibi Recommends: Any Eggs Benedict on the menu.