If your ear is pressed as firmly to the Greater Lansing food scene pipeline as mine is, you’ve probably already been to Square One. In fact, every single time I have dined in, I’ve seen more than one person I know. While the smallish eatery, nestled in Hannah Plaza close to Pizza House, is relatively new, it seems to have caught on like wildfire (with good reason).
The takeout situation is strong, especially if you jump right into action at 8:15 Saturday mornings. That is perfect timing for my family, which includes two young kids. I like to first peruse the rotating selection of baked goods and always snag a cinnamon roll for my 4-year-old if they aren’t sold out. On my first visit, which consisted of takeout, I went a little bonkers and ordered a large selection of items to sample. The lemon poppyseed and blueberry muffins were still warm from the oven and the oat milk latte was large and strong, and those factors made the subsequent hour I spent trying to convince said 4-year-old to get onto the soccer field so much easier.
My breakfast entrée, if that’s a thing we’re doing now, was the West Side omelet. The omelet has some more traditional components like bacon, spinach, and green onion, it elevated with the addition of roasted red pepper and sent into the stratosphere with herb cream cheese. This was one of the best omelets I can remember eating. Mr. She Ate reached breakfast nirvana with his Bacon Bravocado sandwich and remarked that the same herb cream cheese that I so thoroughly enjoyed was also tickling his palate.
My children hammered an order of chocolate chip pancakes. No surprise, right? They’re 4 and 2 years old. But the pancakes were even better than what those little developing palates deserved. They were clearly cooked on a buttered surface, which is the only way I’ve ever been able to successfully get crispy griddled edges on my pancakes. The maple syrup was thick and real, although I didn’t let them have much because they were already chowing down on chocolate and cinnamon rolls for breakfast.
During a lunch visit, Mr. She Ate pivoted from continuing to sample the mouthwatering breakfast menu and chose a Reuben. The marble rye game is strong at Square One, and the highly piled corned beef was juicy and flavorful. I don’t know what absolute weirdo ever came up with the idea of a Reuben sandwich, but I include them when I count my blessings.
I chose the oatmeal bowl, which featured lots of properly prepared oats (they can get sticky and mushy very quickly) and fresh fruit. If you’re an oatmeal lover like I am and in search of a healthy breakfast option that won’t leave you lethargic, keep the Square One oatmeal top of mind. A scoop of almond or peanut butter and splash of almond milk would be a perfect addition, and one for which I would certainly be willing to pay an extra fee.
Mr. She Ate and I split an order of the Nutella stuffed French toast, because I am an absolute sucker for house-made baked goods and needed to sample the challah. Nutella always immediately transports me to high school French class, when I had my first taste of the then-exotic hazelnut spread and also had my mind blown when I learned that you can order a beer in a French McDonald’s. I wanted this French toast to have a little more texture and to have spent another 30 seconds on the griddle, but the bread itself had a perfect texture and crumb.
We’ve visited Square One time and again in the last few weeks, and earlier this week I grabbed a takeout breakfast on my way to take my children to swim lessons. Eddie happily sat poolside and slowly devoured a cinnamon roll (surprise, surprise) and bacon — his favorite breakfast combination. After I dried Jane off, she joined me to indulge in her cinnamon roll pancakes, which absolutely hit the spot for the 2-year-old phenomenon. She has always been a good eater, but if you have a picky kid — I challenge you to let them try the ooey gooey, fluffy and sweet cinnamon roll pancakes.
With MSU students about to depart for the summer, East Lansing will again experience its annual lull. The next few months are a perfect time to visit Square One and work your way through the menu. There are so many lunch items that I can’t wait to try, and you’ll find me in the corner booth with the large oat milk latte. Just be sure to leave a cinnamon roll for me.
Breakfast is often referred to as the most important meal of the day. In many circumstances, it can also be the most delicious meal of the day. Be it a laid-back brunch, a protein-packed kick starter, or breakfast for dinner--count me in. I’m all in for an omelet, chicken and waffles, grits, and more strips of bacon than anyone should be proud of. Bring on Square One Breakfast & Bakery in the Hannah Plaza in East Lansing — an amiable and unassuming café with house-baked goods and a friendly staff. A short stroll from campus, this eatery hits the mark on flavor and convenience for the MSU community where students, faculty, and families are welcomed. The house-baked items are a treat, but I wish there were more options available for takeaway. I’d love to be able to just pop in, grab a croissant or something sweeter with a cup of the Saugatuck-roasted Uncommon Coffee and bound into my day.
Over the course of my visits, neither I nor my dining companions had a bad bite. The waitstaff and managers are all extremely kind, both with their effort and their personas. I could see a high level of rapport with the café’s regular customers, but I could also feel the genuine care and appreciation for myself as a newbie. I was fortunate on one occasion to get the last available table, but while a busy floor would mean a dip in service, the Square One crew checked in regularly and were very attentive.
On to the menu: The Spartan Feast included scrambled eggs, home fries, two choices of meat (bacon and chorizo for me) and biscuits and gravy (which I will return to shortly). The chorizo was marvelous- not too spicy, allowing the cumin and garlic to shine through. The eggs and bacon were cooked nicely, but I would’ve preferred the potatoes to be a bit crispier. My companion ordered the Wake n Bacon burrito packed with scrambled eggs, green onion, avocado, home fries, and plenty of bacon. This breakfast handheld isn’t for the faint of heart: It is hearty, cheesy and can be paired with a crispy hashbrown, similar to one found under the shiny arches in corporate land. The BLT was solid as well, offering a copious helping of bacon and fresh ingredients piled between two thick slices of toasted sourdough.
Any place with challah bread on the menu will automatically have my attention. One that uses the challah for French toast is striving for greatness and even more so when the toast is stuffed with a cream cheese filling and topped with whipped cream and fresh strawberries. It’s sinfully good. The blueberry buttermilk pancakes are also very tasty, balancing the right amount of fruit without overbearing the fluffiness of the cake. Also, very good were the Maz Benedict with two of the scratch-made English muffins, which had the appropriate level of sponginess found in authentic muffins from my travels across the pond. The eggs were poached perfectly, the hollandaise light and flavorful, and the house-made sausage was good enough to order a third patty to share.
My friends, let me bring you in on a little secret: The biscuits and gravy at Square One are among the best I’ve ever eaten. Seriously, a colleague and I are still talking about them several days later, and I only offered them a single bite. First off, the biscuit (of which my companion had their own, served warm with honey) is outstanding. Perfect buttery morsels baked from scratch onsite, it was flaky and soft like those found in kitchens of generations of yore. Coupled with the gravy’s chunky bits of savory goodness, the dish is rich and creamy with notes of sage and other aromatics. If only I could get a dozen biscuits to go, I absolutely would.
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