by jon bosworth
A Riverside Dinner Party Any Time of Day…
Cassie and I have found some great deals while eating around for the Ghetto Gourmet column, but for the most part we’ve found it’s almost always possible to eat out for less than $20, as long as you’re willing to go out for the experience and not to leave bloated and feeling ill. We’ve found we prefer to eat a little bit of really good food than a lot of really cheap food.
But in this increasingly pressurized economy, not only is it harder to afford even $20 outings, but for those of us still fortunate enough to have a job have a hard time getting enough time off of work to squeeze in a dinner.
But as the breakfast menu at Bungalow on Park explains in the words of John Gunther: “All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast.”
Bungalow on Park is one of Riverside’s newest restaurants. I’ve seen local filmmaker and artist Morrison Pierce participating in the renovations in the old Riverside home across from European Street for many months. Now that it is open, I decided I would check it out. Cassie wasn’t able to join me, so I just stopped by for my leisurely breakfast on my way to work.
If you are considering renting or buying an old home in the historic Riverside district, a good way to stick your toe in the water would be a meal at Bungalow on Park. The entire restaurant is built into a classic Riverside home. It has all of the Riverside qualities: hardwood floors, layers and layers of paint, and ancient molding and trim. Oh, and eclectic art on the walls and shelves.
Eclectic actually isn’t a dramatic enough of a word to describe the disparity of the décor at Bungalow on Park. But “garish” strikes me as a little mean. From ‘Basket Mask No. 8,” which is an Aztec-ish mask crafted from serving implements to the paintings featuring the stars of breakfast – namely eggs and bacon – you might be inclined to identify food service as an over-riding theme. But their nature photography, abstract ceramic sculptures and Elvis fixation throws the theme off track.
But don’t let the manic décor distract you – Bungalow on Park is actually serving the gourmet breakfast you hope for when you go to someplace like Cool Moose just up the street. Like Cool Moose, your breakfast is going to take a little longer than a greasy spoon or a fast-paced diner, but that is part of the secret to a leisurely breakfast, right?
I ordered “Dad’s Breakfast,” three eggs cooked to order, stone ground yellow grits, applewood smoked bacon or freshly made sausage and some delicious wheat toast baked fresh by the French Pantry.
The first test of a breakfast place is if they can cook a good over-medium egg. I like the whites cooked and yolk deliciously raw. This is a delicate task to achieve in a fast-paced breakfast environment (which is why the only breakfast places that thrive are the ones that can accomplish such a feat consistently) but Bungalow on Park isn’t fast-paced and my eggs were perfect. Although I keep mentioning the pace, they weren’t slow. My meal took half the time it takes to get breakfast at Cool Moose, but there also wasn’t a crowded dining room.
But Bungalow puts a little more of the ritz on than Cool Moose. They don’t have any eggs benedict on the menu, but they do have some nice touches. From the Bungalow Stuffed French Toast, which has sweetened cream cheese inside of it and fresh berries with chantilly cream poured over it ($7) to their ham and cheese omelet that uses Black Forest ham and shredded gruyere cheese ($7.50), they have some tasty gourmet picks that are a little more Biscottis. On the other hand, they have some really cheap eats that can get you out the door too – including the $4 Mom M’s Biscuits and Gravy or the lite two egg Mom’s Breakfast which comes with their smoky, succulent yellow grits and an English Muffin with preserves and roasted tomatoes ($3.75).
Their sausage was definitely something worth a special mention. Having less of a fennel focus, this homemade breakfast sausage has something more akin to a rosemary flavor. although I couldn’t quite pinpoint the ingredient, it seemed to add a little sweetness to the usual breakfast sausage bite. If you prefer a cup of Starbucks in the morning, you’ll probably appreciate the robust coffee they serve at bungalow as well. Overall the breakfast had richer flavors than most, making it more than the simple everyday diner breakfast in both flavor and expense, but a worthwhile treat on those mornings when you have time for a leisurely breakfast.
Visit Bungalow on Park Tuesday through Saturday for breakfast and lunch (lunches range from $7 – almost $12) and Wednesday through Saturday for dinner (prices are not Ghetto Gourmet style). Join them for brunch from 9 am to 3 pm on the weekends. They also serve beer and wine. Go to bungalowonpark.com for more details.
by jon bosworth