In the Instagram world of today that’s replete with shots of artful food, I often think of a quote attributed to Julia Child: “It’s so beautifully arranged on the plate — you know someone’s fingers have been all over it.”
We used to be happy if we got good food and good service, but now, we also must get something that we can put on the ‘Gram to impress our friends. There’s even a parody account, Chef Jacques la Merde, that takes junk food and plates it like it came out of a three-star Michelin kitchen.
But the food at Ravenna’s Bryant Corner Cafe & Bakery? No one cares if you photograph it. English muffins and griddled ham slices with poached-egg hats sit like islands in an ocean of hollandaise. The lingonberry sauce that accompanies the Swedish pancakes is pre-portioned in a plastic cup.
The lighting is terrible. The tabletops are a dull maroon. Dusty teapots are set atop a transom, and multiple shelves overflow with a flotsam and jetsam of board games, cards, puzzles and crayons. It feels like your grandma’s house in here, and it’s absolutely wonderful.
That lingonberry jam is the perfect tart foil for the sweet pancake. You’ll sop up every last drop of that hollandaise with a wonderfully crisp fried potato. You don’t care that the photos suck, because the food is what matters and boy is it good.
Plus, it’s incredibly hard to capture a vibe in a photograph, and the vibe at this corner stop is the epitome of cozy.
The menu is designed to please everyone. There’s a paleo breakfast and a crabcake Benedict. Actually, you can get hollandaise on top of practically anything (take the Hobo, featuring scrambled eggs with ham and cheese atop hash browns smothered in hollandaise, served with a side salad). There are chocolate-chip pancakes and huevos rancheros, scrambles and omelets — and perhaps the best part is you can get breakfast all day.
I’m a purist when it comes to Benedicts and always opt for a classic ($12). The ham is thick-sliced and griddled, the eggs perfectly poached. I wish the hollandaise had more of a lemony kick, but that’s just splitting hairs, isn’t it?
The Swedish pancakes ($9) come three to an order, tart lingonberry jam served alongside to cut the sweetness, Devonshire cream to amp it up. I swiped a bite from my friend’s plate and think each breakfast meal should come standard with a plate of these for the table to share.
The dinner menu runs just as long and varied. There’s spaghetti and meatballs alongside meatloaf; fish and chips as well as fish tacos. Sandwiches, burgers, salads and even tater-tot nachos. If that wasn’t enough, there’s a sheet with additional specials slipped inside each menu.
The fish and chips ($15) features three crisp beer-battered pieces of cod, tangy tartar sauce, coleslaw and a large portion of fries. At the recommendation of our server, we ordered the cremini fettuccine ($16), tossed with parmesan, spinach and a sherry cream sauce. At the last minute, I added a small wedge salad ($7). I’m a sucker for iceberg lettuce and blue-cheese dressing. Portions are large, the food comes fast and every bite is good.
Everything here is solid, from the servers whizzing around the dining room refilling waters and coffee with perpetual smiles to the wedge salad with crumbled fresh bacon. I felt like a fool standing up at my table to take photos of this food because no one here is doing that. Instead, they’re playing a card game with their kids while they wait for food, or talking to their dining companion. There are people reading the news from an actual paper. I was the only one with a cellphone in my hand.
Also, can we talk about the prices? Nine dollars for a plate of pancakes, 12 bucks for a burger topped with Beecher’s cheese. A pitcher of mimosas is $25, a margarita $9. There aren’t many deals like this in Seattle anymore, let alone in the heart of Ravenna.
There’s live music on Saturdays and kids eat free Monday nights. There’s a bookshelf outside with free paperbacks. Come to Bryant Corner and connect with your friends and family. Order some Swedish pancakes. Put your phone away for a while.
The Bryant Corner Cafe & Bakery, 7:30 a.m. -10 p.m. daily; 3118 NE 65th St., Seattle; 206-525-1034, thebryantcornercafe.com