Frugal Forager: Ballston Spa breakfast cafe gets morning off to good start
“Would you like ginger or turmeric?”
For breakfast? Really?
Good Morning Cafe looks like your average breakfast place. And yes, you can order eggs, bacon, pancakes and omelets.
But owner Nancy Holzman is on a mission to cook up nutritious food with produce and products that are fairly traded, locally sourced, organic or made from animals that run free.
Battenkill Creamery, Kilpatrick Family Farm, Oscar’s Smokehouse and Saratoga Apple are just a few of the local places whose products end up on Good Morning’s menu.
Ah, this could be a breakfast adventure.
Good Morning Cafe
WHERE: Carousel Plaza, 2100 Doubleday Ave. (Route 50), Ballston Spa. 309-3359, www.goodmorningbreakfast.com
WHEN: 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday
HOW MUCH: $27.45 before tax and tip
MORE INFO: Visa, MasterCard and Discover accepted; ample plaza parking
My friend Maggie and I had checked the menu online before we arrived. We were eager to dig into a not-so-average morning meal.
Maggie ordered the Tofu Scrambler: mushrooms, scallions, roasted red peppers, greens and tofu for $7.95.
“With turmeric, please,” she told Joann, our friendly waitress in the purple T-shirt.
I selected the Veggie Sampler: black beans, greens and veggie hash for $10.95.
We both got side orders of toast, $1.25, made with Rock Hill Bakehouse bread, and there were many choices, including jalapeno cheddar.
Sipping and chatting over cups of Equal Exchange coffee and tea, we looked around.
At the door, there’s a big rooster that once carried kids on a carousel. Green bamboo stalks in vases, fruit and veggie prints on the walls, vintage animal feed sacks hanging like shutters on the kitchen pass-through.
The wooden chairs and tables are midcentury Colonial, common to mom-and-pop eateries.
While vegans, vegetarians and the gluten-free can happily dine here, the vibe is homey, not hippie.
When our breakfast arrived, our conversation stopped.
“It’s beautiful,” said Maggie, eyeing the colorful food arranged on the plates.
My three samples were tucked into their own white containers, like artwork in frames. In a ramekin were black beans topped with chunks of bright red pimento; pale yellow hash flecked with orange, strewn with broccoli florets, and the greens both appeared in oval bakers.
A melange of carrots, potatoes, squash, cabbage and tofu, the hash was more smooth than chunky, with an appealing sweet, earthy flavor, not unlike mashed rutabaga or parsnip.
Lightly sautéed, the fresh and frilly greens had a mild peppery kick; the beans were touched with cumin.
Maggie’s golden yellow scramble was “light, almost eggy tasting,” she said. We both agreed that the greens in our dishes were exceptionally delicious. In her home garden, Maggie knows and grows all kinds of greens, so she had to ask about them.
“Kale and spinach,” was Joann’s answer.
Good Morning Cafe serves applesauce pancakes, baked French toast with rhubarb-strawberry compote, homemade maple granola and parfaits made with delectable Argyle Cheese Farmer yogurt.
Frugal foragers will note that two free-range eggs and Rock Hill toast or a small stack of pancakes cost $4.75. And there are pancake specials for seniors and kids.
Some of your breakfast bucks go back into the community, too.
Since Holzman, a former professional fundraiser, opened the restaurant in January, 5 cents from certain menu items have been tagged for local charities and each organization will get a check from the cafe at the end of the year after the nickels are added up. In November, Holzman hosted a fundraising dinner for a drought-stricken village in Cambodia. Food scraps and paper products are composted; glass and metal are recycled; leftover food is donated.
“Eat good, feel good, do good” is her motto, and you can read all about it on her website.
Maggie and I certainly had a good feeling after our adventurous veggie breakfast.
I couldn’t eat all those black beans, so Joann handed me a brown paper to-go bowl. “World Centric,” said the label. “100 percent compostable plant fiber.”
“Have a wonderful day!” Joann said as we walked out the door.