Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Inspired by Columbus: Daybreak Diner (part 1)

Daybreak Diner
1168 E. Weber Rd.
Columbus, OH 43211
(614) 261-4560
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Daybreak Diner has been around for about four years now and even though you won't see owner Bill Kinniard (more about him in this great article by my friend Nick Dekker) behind the grill much these days, his menu and musical Americana decor are still the focus. On the surface it may appear to be another run-of-the-mill diner, but spend a little time looking at the menu and you'll see a number of intriguing choices.

Lyndsay, Isaac, and I went for a Saturday breakfast. It was still fairly early for a Saturday breakfast, so it was not very busy.  This is a good thing because Daybreak Diner likes to take their time with each dish and you might find yourself waiting awhile to eat after you order.  This is probably not the diner to go to if you are voraciously hungry, in a hurry to be somewhere afterwards, or just don't like the people you are eating with.  Luckily, none of these were true for us so we were led through the memorable knick-knack laden decor to a table in the back.  Even though it was a warm day, it was a bit drafty at our table, making me wish I wasn't wearing short sleeves.  

Other than the decor, the menu is where Daybreak shines.  Sure, they have all the classic breakfast dishes like pancakes, omelets, biscuits and gravy, and breakfast sandwiches, but they have just as many unique options.  Captain Crunch French toast, breakfast fried rice, a french toast breakfast sandwich, and a couple of breakfast bowls are just a few of the choices you won't see anywhere else.  These options both feel clever, but also fit in with the standard diner fare.  

Isaac always orders pancakes (which taste like cupcakes by the way), but Lyndsay and I were a bit more adventurous.  I ordered the French toast breakfast sandwich with their thick-cut bacon for $4.50 and hashbrowns for $1.79 (though they cost up to $5.25 if you get them fully loaded with mushrooms, peppers, onions, cheese, and meat).  Other than Katalina's sweet and spicy bacon (I'll surely head there for a post sometime), Daybreak has one of my favorite bacons. The French toast was perfectly cooked and quite eggy which kept me from missing an egg in the sandwich itself. I added a little syrup inside and this made it a perfect mix of sweet and savory.

Lyndsay ordered the fried rice bowl for $7.85, but without any sausage gravy on top (I know, I know, but cut her a break, she's pregnant).  So what this amounted to was an open-faced omelet, topped with breakfast fried rice and cheese.  The breakfast fried rice has sauteed mushrooms, onions, and sausage in it, and is salty from the generous amount of soy sauce used.  They give you a nice big bowl full, more than most people will be able to eat in one sitting, but I didn't hear Lyndsay complain when she boxed up the leftovers.

How I Was Inspired
I liked how using French toast instead of regular bread changed my sandwich so I decided to see how else I could change the bread to make a unique breakfast offering.  I decided to use a cinnamon swirl bread as my foundation and go from there.  Since this would be a sweet dish, I needed to substitute the cheese and bacon.  I decided to make a cream cheese spread, like the kind used on cinnamon rolls, and use sweet and salty sauteed plantains.

You can either make cinnamon bread from scratch, which is what I did using this recipe or you could just purchase your favorite (Pepperidge Farm makes a good one if your local bakery doesn't).

First I made my cream cheese frosting which is a simple matter of whisking together cream cheese, powdered sugar, and buttermilk. I would have whisked a little better, but I knew this was going inside a sandwich, so I moved on.

Next, I sliced a sweet plantain (meaning mostly black all over) lengthwise, salted them lightly, and then sauteed them until they were golden brown on both sides.

Finally, I put some of the frosting and few slices of plantain between two pieces of buttered cinnamon bread and cooked the sandwich on the griddle until it was golden brown on both sides, just like a grilled cheese sandwich.

They turned out exactly as I hoped.  The bread I made tasted good plain, but boy did it shine whenever it was griddled or toasted.  The salty sweet plantain was complimented well by the cinnamon, though next time I make it I will probably use more plantain in each sandwich.  The frosting tasted cheesy enough without being out of place and while it made the sandwich gooey, it didn't ooze out of the sandwich, which I was thankful for.

If you want to make it on your own, here is the recipe:

Cinnamon Plantain Breakfast Sandwiches

  • 4 slices of cinnamon swirl bread
  • butter for bread
  • 1 sweet plantain
  • 1 Tbsp. buttermilk
  • 1 Tbsp. very soft cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar

  1. butter each slice of bread and set aside
  2. peel the plantain and slice into long thin slices and then sprinkle with a little salt.  Saute in a little oil or butter over medium heat until golden brown on both sides
  3. sift the powdered sugar over the buttermilk and cream cheese and then whisk to combine.
  4. Brush some cream cheese icing on the non-buttered side of two pieces of bread and set face down in a skillet that has been on medium heat for about 5 minutes or until hot.  Add plantain strips and the other slices of bread butter side to make two sandwiches.  Griddle the bread for about 3 minutes per side or until golden brown.  Serve.
Stick with me because in a day or two I'm going to reveal how I was inspired by Lyndsay's breakfast fried rice bowl.  You won't want to miss it.

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