Incredible Breakfast Trends

East Meets West on Healthy Breakfasts

New York City is home to the most expensive omelet in the world. Norma’s will serve the Zillion Dollar Lobster Frittata made with 10 ounces of caviar, one pound of lobster, covered with eggs and served on fried potatoes to anyone willing to pay the $1,000 price. ‘No one beats The Big Apple’ ‒ at least not in culinary excess ‒ is a boast for which the city’s vibrant restaurant culture is rightly famous.

Other NYC breakfasts, not quite so decadent but certainly more often ordered, are indulgent enough to land on anyone’s breakfast treat list:

  • L’Inglese: two fried eggs, house-made heritage pork sausage, thick-cut Applewood smoked bacon, roasted tomato, roasted mushrooms and roasted potatoes (Aurora, Brooklyn)
  • Bacon, Egg & Oyster Sandwich: fried oysters, bacon, egg and pickles on a brioche roll (The Penrose, NYC)
  • Oreo Brioche French Toast: Oreo stuffing, Oreo breading, maple syrup and powdered sugar (Queens Comfort, Astoria)
  • Pork Sausage Pie: house-made herbed pork sausage, brioche pudding and two eggs (The District, NYC)
  • Loco Moco: rice, chorizo, avocado and sunny-side up eggs covered in bacon gravy (Concord Hill, Brooklyn)

On the other side of the continent, we find a polar opposite: the light touch of food known as California Cuisine. Distilled from cuisines of its large Asian and Hispanic populations and the impact of year-round outdoor lifestyles, California Cuisine features the many farm-to-table foods grown in the state and collected from the sea. This better-for-you style is typified by skillful use of herbs and spices with fresh fruits, vegetables, lean meats, poultry and seafood.

Examples of California breakfast cuisine are diverse and aromatic:

  • Charred Avocado Toast: two fried eggs, lemon and grilled scallion-jalapeno marmalade (Rose Café, Venice)
  • Baked Eggs Skillet: baked eggs, stewed white beans, kale, chili oil and feta (Milo & Olive, Santa Monica)
  • Grilled Asparagus: with polenta, winter vegetables and soft egg (A.O.C. Wine Bar, L.A.)
  • 2 Poached Eggs: with wild mushrooms, tomatoes, scallions and goat cheese on mixed greens (Venus, Berkeley)
  • Lentil Ragu: with poached eggs, kale, feta & country bread (Huckleberry Cafe, Santa Monica)

But that’s not the end of the New York vs. California menu story. According to Technomic, California consumers ordered healthy options 41 percent of the time when eating out, not significantly more often than the Northeast consumers’ 37 percent. This small gap remains when drilling down into segments. As for those dining at fast-casual in California, we see a 46 percent order rate, with 41 percent in the Northeast. So perhaps East and West are not so far apart in their eating habits after all.

A scan of menus for better-for-you breakfast items in New York City found the following:

  • Soft Scramble Eggs: chévre, leeks and truffle vinaigrette (Lafayette Grand Café)
  • Winter Hash: black rice, sunny-side up egg, butternut squash, chili Brussels sprouts, ginger and scallion (Dimes)
  • Kale & Egg Sandwich: avocado, sun-dried tomatoes, Parmesan and vinaigrette (Ellary’s Greens)
  • Roasted Beet Sandwich: with smoked egg and avocado (Little Park)
  • Jamaican Rancheros: eggs over easy, plantains, stew peas and Scotch bonnet pepper (Miss Lilly’s)

Scanning for more indulgent breakfasts in California revealed:

  • Hunt’s Hash: braised brisket, roasted pork shoulder, fennel sausage, bell peppers, potatoes topped with two poached eggs (The Cannery Cafe, Hayward)
  • The Money Maker: lemon rosemary bread pudding and caramel cream sauce topped with a fried egg (C&M Café, L.A.)
  • Breakfast Sandwich: 50% ground chorizo/50% ground bacon patty, cheddar cheese, two sunny-side up eggs, thick-cut bacon and two deep-fried waffles with real maple syrup (Slater’s 50/50, Huntington Beach)
  • Kamil’s Breakfast: elbow macaroni scrambled with eggs, smoked bacon, ham, garlic, chives and cheddar cheese (Blu Jam Café, Woodland Hills)
  • Country Breakfast: two eggs, homemade biscuit, home fries with sour cream and homemade pork sausage patties or grilled pork chop with stewed apple topping (Venus, Berkeley)

Nationwide, there is equilibrium. Mintel numbers show 44 percent of diners cite healthy foods, while 42 percent mention indulgent ones as factors in choosing a restaurant. No better proof exists than the shredded carrot hash browns at Community Food & Juice in New York, and that the second location of Norma’s sells its Zillion Dollar Lobster Frittata in Palm Springs. In both, flavor is the first ingredient.


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