Review: Egg in Benton Park
Egg nests in the former Spare No Rib space on Gravois Avenue and is run by some of the same exceedingly cordial staff. The breakfast and lunch menu lays out classics that will go over easy even with finicky eaters, but has enough fresh takes to keep things interesting.
If you name a restaurant Egg, then you better know how to cook one. On my visits, every egg came out cracking good. The restaurant’s mastery of its namesake is most evident in the chakchouka. Two are baked atop a tomato, bell pepper and carne asada stew until the whites are completely set but the yolks can still let loose. Even the vegetarian version of this dish brimmed with savory flavor, sans asada. It warmed and satisfied without feeling too heavy.
I was skeptical of cornbread replacing the English muffin in my eggs Benedict, fearing it might end up too sweet. One bite dispelled those concerns. The sweet and crusty cornbread sang in harmony with salty pork belly and creamy hollandaise. It actually improved the texture of the dish, overcoming the biggest challenge of a classic Benedict: cutting the muffin.
BBQ Chicken Wrap
Simply labeled “BBQ Chicken Wrap” on the menu, you’d be forgiven for skipping this unassuming gem. But the spicy, North Carolina-style barbecue sauce dripping down roasted hunks of chicken, crisp romaine and avocado in a crunchy, grilled tortilla made for the best diner wrap I’ve ever had. It shouldn’t be as good as it is, but names can be deceiving.
I thought I’d round out my meal just a little with a chorizo and queso taco. What a mistake. Teeming with meat, cheese and egg, it was too big to eat comfortably with my hands. But it was so worth it. Other restaurants take note: this is how to do a breakfast taco. Two would make a full meal.
The El Cerdo hash features some of the best cooked home fries I’ve ever had. Seasoned just so and mixed with carnitas, spinach and jalapenos, this well-rounded dish proved Egg’s chops as the brunch to beat. If you’re too full for the hash, get the potatoes as a side.
Hot Espresso Martini
This isn’t the kind of drink I expected to endorse, but here we are. If you’re on a lunch that’s more pleasure than business, this stirred mix of a double espresso with hazelnut-coffee liqueur and vodka is sure to get you pleasantly scrambled.
Service can take a while, which is not ideal for a workday lunch, but preferable since it means your meal is cooked to order. The space is still festooned with Spare No Rib livery and still gives off that barbecue joint vibe. Not a big deal, but confusing if you don’t know the ownership connection.
2200 Gravois Ave., St. Louis, 314.202.8244, breakfastcamefirst.com
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