Nov. 18 2009 12:00 AM

Eggs Benedict



Last Sunday morning, four local foodies (a writer, two stand-up comedians and a professional baker) embarked on a five-hour tour around Lansing and East Lansing in search of the city’s best eggs Benedict. We targeted establishments that only serve brunch on Sundays, mixing in a couple of buzzy places for good measure. Eggs Benedict is a breakfast dish composed of an English muffin topped with Canadian bacon and a poached egg, and then drizzled with Hollandaise sauce, a super-rich blend of butter, egg yolks, oil and lemon juice. Yes, we knew what we were getting into, cholesterol levels be damned.

Bistro 43: 4.45 out of 10 These “runny” eggs were “doused in a sauce that tasted like gravy,” resulting in an “unpleasant, soggy English muffin.” One taster dipped his fork in the concoction and gingerly nibbled it before declaring, “Ugh, that’s that.” However, the restaurant’s openair atmosphere and bountiful natural light made this a cheerful upgrade from a greasy spoon breakfast joint. Alas, you’ll have to pay for it; at $13, this was the most expensive dish of the day.

Bistro 43 (Sunday brunch only), inside the East Lansing Marriott, 300 Mac Ave., East Lansing. (517) 337-4440

Christie’s Bistro: 7 out of 10 On the opposite side of town, we found a dish with a sauce that was “sweet,” “tangy” and “creamy.” The eggs were “near perfect” and our service was “warm” and “friendly.” Still, the surroundings left no mistake that we were essentially eating in a hotel lobby. The $10 price was a little heavy, especially given the “lacking presentation,” but the fact that Christie’s makes its sauce in-house earned our respect, if not our points.

Christie’s Bistro (Sunday brunch only), Inside the Lexington Lansing. 925 S Creyts Road, Lansing. (517) 323-4190.

O’Neil’s: 7.1 out of 10 Negative
points were assessed for using a canned Hollandaise sauce, which also
had a “gritty,” “floury,” “gravy-like” taste, but O’Neil’s still packed
a solid punch. The poached eggs were perfectly done, and the slightly
thicker cuts of ham (not Canadian bacon this time) was a welcome
change-up. The staff was “extremely personable,” and the “college chic”
décor made for a fun stop on our trip. The $6.99 price helped win us
over too.

O’Neil’s. 1017 E. Grand River Ave., East Lansing. (517) 203-4745.

Beggar’s Banquet: 7.9 out of 10 With
a sauce that just missed a winning three-way tie, Beggar’s’s $7.99 dish
just missed the mark. The eggs “were practically soft-boiled,” making
for another “runny mess” that got the English muffin all soggy, but
that sauce — oh buddy. It was explained to us that the butter is first
clarified (basically, getting most of the fat out of it) and mixed with
apple cider vinegar to create something that was a little thinner than
the others, but with all the flavor and richness you would expect from
Hollandaise. The clarifying gives the butter “a subtle nuttiness”
everyone enjoyed.

Beggar’s Banquet (Sunday brunch only). 218 Abbot Road, East Lansing. (517) 351-4540. www.beggarsbanquet. com

Golden Harvest: 8.625 out of 10 Co-owner/waitress Vanessa Vicknair claims she married her husband, co-owner/ chef Zane, because of his Hollandaise sauce, and
we found out why. Although some of our judges found the “lemony” sauce
“a bit too tart,” it tied for overall taste with our eventual winner.
The Canadian bacon was “super thick and juicy,” and the massive
portions gave this $7.50 dish the highest value assessment of the day.

The Golden Harvest. 1625 Turner St., Lansing. (517) 485-3663

Soup 2 Nuts Bistro: 9.15 out of 10 Owner/operator
Cindy Swope’s take on eggs Benedict earned the highest marks across the
board. The “bed-and-breakfast” atmosphere set the scene for a
“perfectly done” dish, with a sauce that had “a hint of lemon without
becoming overpowering.” The “perfectly round,” “Cadbury”-looking eggs
hardly ran at all, making for a nonmessy dish that looked as good as it
tasted. However,
all sides are a la carte, leaving this “extremely reasonably priced”
$6.50 dish “a tad lonely-looking on its half-empty plate.” Swope kindly
talked us through how she flawlessly “free poaches” the eggs, but she
was less forthcoming about how to duplicate that Hollandaise sauce.

Soup 2 Nuts Bistro (Sunday brunch only). 123 E. Kalamazoo St., Lansing. (517) 485-0955. www.souptonutzbistro. com

worth noting the dish that inspired this tasting was the Crabcake
Benedict at Bravo! in the Eastwood Towne Center. However, it was deemed
untraditional, so we skipped it. Also, The Soup Spoon Café is said to
have a stellar version, but it wasn’t open on our trip. And Sawyer’s
Gourmet Pancake House, how can you not have eggs Benedict? Our hearts
would have broken had they not been working so hard to maintain our
Blood-Hollandaise Sauce Levels.

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