The Fussbudget’s Sunday morning hockey game had us out earlier than we like on a weekend, and watching the youngsters skating around in a cold city rink had us chilled and hungry. Driving up Bridge Street from Manchester’s West Side, we got caught at the light at Bridge and Union streets, saw Julien’s Corner Kitchen beckoning from across the intersection and spied a scarce parking spot across the street from the little eatery. A glance at the Dining Companion revealed her affirmative nod, and we pulled over.
The intersection is cramped and chronically busy, with cars routinely backing up in all directions. Enter Julien’s cozy confines, however, and all that impatient hustle and bustle is left behind. The restaurant was crowded as Our Gourmet (OG), the Dining Companion (DC) and the Fussbudget (FB) entered this late morning. Friendly staff quickly cleared us a table in one of the two dining rooms and we readied to order.
Julien’s only serves breakfast on Sundays, so we couldn’t sample the lunch options available during the week. DC perused the menu before ordering the Veggie Omelet ($7.95), while OG eyed the specials written on a white board about the server’s station, hitting upon the Meat Lover’s Omelet ($10.95). The FB decided upon pancakes ($5.25). Our order was taken quickly and our juice, chocolate milk and bottomless coffee were delivered in short order.
We looked around as we waited. Julien’s has two dining areas separated by a few steps that go under the stairway to the building upstairs. The room we were seated in, with its entrance on Bridge Street, had rows of four-seat tables down each side and another row down the middle of the room. Counter seating looks out the windows onto the street and Pulaski Park. Walls are chock-full of paintings and photographs and whimsical bric-brac and provided a healthy dose of entertainment. We kept the FB busy playing “Eye Spy,” picking out something on the wall and having him guess what we were looking at. He forgot all about his usual request for one of our phones.
When our food arrived we were not disappointed. Given that he hadn’t eaten before hockey, we’d ordered three pancakes for the Fussbudget. At the suggestion of our server we’d added blueberries ($1.50) cooked into the pancakes and chocolate chips ($1.25), to be spread on top.
We’d had no way of knowing, but this order was way too much for even the hungriest kid. Each pancake was perfectly cooked to golden and tender within, with the tart berries livening things up and the melting chocolate adding a gooey goodness. But these pancakes were huge, probably 8 to 10 inches across and the poor boy could only manage about a quarter of the order. We took the rest home.
Our omelets were also large, making us wonder how the kitchen had used only three eggs each. Perfectly cooked, the eggs were moist despite the delicate thinness of each omelet, and were expertly folded into packages the size of an overstuffed business envelope.
The DC’s was packed full of tender onion, tomato, green pepper, mushroom, broccoli and spinach, as well as cheese. A creamy Bearnaise sauce came on the side. This was delicious and about as healthy an omelet as you could make. The DC rounded out her order with some lightly toasted sourdough and a mound of home fries that would have been filling on its own.
OG’s omelet was packed with an assortment of breakfast meats. Someone in the kitchen had spent some serious prep time on these. Each piece of bacon, ham and sausage had been uniformly diced to about an eighth of an inch. Cutting into the omelet, the meat spilled out and mixing soothingly with the melted Swiss cheese we’d requested. This omelet was outrageously good.
But stealing the show was a side of baked beans, served in its own little crock. We’ve never been big on beans for breakfast, but these were homemade and something special. The beans were on the smallish side and soft, swimming in a rich, dark, sweet sauce that complimented the salty meats in our omelet.
It didn’t take us long to dump out the crock so we could eat the beans with each bite of omelet, sopping up the stray extras with our toast. We haven’t had a breakfast this good, or this filling and satisfying, in a long time.
Now that we know what’s inside at Julien’s, we plan on making it a regular spot when we’re out for breakfast on a weekend. We’ve also agreed we need to find a free weekday noontime so we can try some of Julien’s lunch offerings.
If they’re as good as Julien’s breakfasts, we’ll have found a winner.