“How often do you eat breakfast, more than just a roll and a cup of coffee?”
That was one of the less judgy questions that popped up on an assessment I recently had to complete for my health insurance. (Judgier questions: “How many times per week do you do stretching exercises to improve the flexibility of your back, neck, shoulders, and legs?” and “Do you regularly apply sunscreen of SPF 15 or greater?” and “How ready are you to be physically active,” to which my answers were “I’m supposed to be doing that?” “Duh, I’m Irish,” and “As ready as you need me to say I am in order to get a discount on my health insurance.”)
But I get the point: Coffee and a roll ain’t cutting it as breakfast. Not a real breakfast.
Fortunately, we are experiencing a bit of a real breakfast Renaissance in Wilmington lately. Three new spots have recently opened (or expanded hours) to help feed your morning need and make you forget a “roll” was ever a viable option.
(Note: I’ve written about breakfast before, and I still vouch for all these places, especially the muffin that looks like a muppet.)
The third storefront in Bryan and Andrea Sikora’s growing Market Street empire just opened its doors to the general public last month, but they’re been baking bread out of the back for local clients for awhile now. The full menu isn’t together yet, but that hasn’t stopped a steady stream of customers from popping by for bagels, baguettes and other morning delights.
Pop in any morning of the week and you’ll find something different. Maybe cinnamon rolls. Maybe cream-overstuffed (as opposed to those dinky “cream-filled”) doughnuts. Maybe chocolate-chip cannoli. (This might not technically be a breakfast item.) A daily staple is the smoked salmon on a bagel with dill cream cheese and thinly sliced tomato, a classy version of the classic breakfast sandwich.
Fresh-baked baguettes are almost always available if they’re not sold out, and they’re perfect if you’re hording a hunk of good butter in your office.
(Lunch at MS B&B quite good, too. I had a spot-on ham-and-brie sandwich on a pretzel roll which was just about everything I want in a quick-and-easy lunch.)
Breakfast BBQ. That’s what I need more of in my life, and Locale BBQ Post doesn’t disappoint, with breakfast sandwiches topped with brisket, bratwurst or pulled pork. But those in the know will save the smoked meats for lunch, and go with the Chef Chris Baittinger’s house-cured bacon-of-the-week instead.
I popped in one morning last week on the way to the office in Wilmington and ordered the bacon, egg and cheese sandwich that serves as the new standard by which all bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches must be judged. The freshly made English muffin from La Fia’s bakery (a.k.a. Market Street Bread and Bagel). The coffee-cured bacon. The gently cooked egg. They top it with a remoulade sauce and then give you a side of a second sauce, which Chris told me is made with “smoked honey, pepper flakes and secret stuff.” Hold the sandwich in your left hand, pour the second sauce with your right, reverse those directions if you’re left handed, and then just stuff all of that goodness into your mouth as fast as you’re able to get your jaw to move.
Do not miss this sandwich. It’s $5.
On the third day, I thought it was maybe time to think about not having a heart attack this week. And so, as I sat down at De La Coeur Café et Pâtisserie, the delightful new café just outside Trolley Square, I summoned all my willpower to not order the Nutella and whipped cream French toast, or the apple and pear crepe with cinnamon and crème anglaise, or the edible cup (which I understand is a sugar cookie molded into the shape of cup, then lacquered with chocolate and used to hold espresso).
I held firm and ordered a savory crepe with hummus, red pepper, cucumber and a parsley yogurt sauce – and take this as high praise, it did not taste healthy. The hummus does an excellent job standing in for a creamier brie, and the parsley sauce – essentially a light pesto – added welcome herbal notes. A carafe of water was placed on the table when I sat down. Orange juice arrived freshly squeezed.
Delaware natives Gretchen Brizendine and Alex Sianni have done a wonderful job taking over this space that once housed a neighborhood favorite – the dearly departed Fresh Thymes Café – and adding new vigor and lots of pastry, while retaining its many charms. The word is out. As I was finishing my quite healthy breakfast, in walked a favorite local chef of mine, stopping by with his daughter on their way to school to pick up a cappuccino. He bakes some amazing bread, but said de La Coeur’s croissants were among the best he’s had. He would know.
So I left with a handful of pain au chocolat. Because, hey, I have health insurance.