My family is a breakfast family. It’s not that we love eating breakfast. Or because this is the Cereal City.
But if the family is going to gather in a restaurant, it’s going to be for breakfast. I have memories of long tables at the Lakeview Family Restaurant, the fish tank, aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents.
Later on, as people grew up and dispersed and the gathering became smaller, Pancake House was the go-to. Uncle Dan and Aunt Carla would take Grandma on the weekends, or if anyone was visiting Battle Creek, we’d go there right before they hit the road again. One last chance to talk before going our own ways.
Eating at Cafetal last week got me thinking about breakfast as an excuse for gathering.
While I wolfed down my very good French toast with berries and whipped cream, I noticed there were a couple other tables where people lingered over empty plates, still talking.
So if you miss Pancake House or want a new place to meet over tossed salad and scrambled eggs, then here are some suggestions:
Now that Dad has retired, Cafe Rica is his favorite place. All my aunts and uncles were in town for a reunion this summer and we shared one of the long tables at Cafe Rica. I often see big groups with kids sitting at these tables, sharing time together (and probably mimosas). I recommend the waffle breakfast sandwich.
I’ll say it again: AWESOME. FRENCH. TOAST. Based on some of the French toast I’ve been served, it’s not easy to keep things fluffy and rich but not too eggy. Cafetal has a deft touch, and I’m guessing that goes for their other dishes as well. It’s a solid breakfast menu, with everything from hash brown bowls to peanut butter and chocolate and banana crepes. The Battle Creek Combo has two eggs, one slice of French toast and a side of bacon or sausage.
If you want a really special breakfast occasion, go to Clara’s on the River for brunch on Sunday. They have an omelet station, and I don’t think it gets fancier than that. There’s also no waiting – you can fill up your plate with pastries, fruit, eggs, meat and stuffed French Toast at the buffet. Clara’s is also a great space for bigger groups, when the entire family is in town. It’s open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays.
Long Island Cafe
Long Island Cafe sticks to its tropical theme. Order an omelet called The Tsunami or a mix of pancakes and French toast called The Archipelago. If you’re longing for eggs benedict, look under the Island Specials. I’m intrigued by the pearl waffles, which have baked-in beads of pearl sugar.
Lux Cafe is still the place for big gatherings – the building used to be Lakeview Family Restaurant. It’s also the spot for big appetites. The portions are huge. Sizzlin Skillets are served in actual skillets, piled with potatoes, cheese, eggs and varieties of meat, gravy and vegetables.
The best bet for classic diner decor is Sunrise Cafe. You also get classic diner food, like biscuits and gravy with your eggs. And this isn’t breakfast related, but I have to mention: Sunrise Cafe won the Mac and Cheese Festival last winter with white cheddar mac and brisket burnt ends.
I talked a lot about the food, but I hope you remember what breakfast is really for: To spend time with the people who matter.
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