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Monday, November 10, 2008

Risen from the ashes

This past week, Kimberly, Ian and I had the opportunity to eat at one of my favorite breakfast places: O'Rourke's Diner at 728 Main Street in Middletown, CT. For many years, O'Rourke's was THE place to go for breakfast in central Connecticut, that is until the tragic fire on August 31, 2006 destroyed the landmark building. With no fire insurance, it looked like O'Rourke's was down for the count, but the residents of Middletown chipped in to raise the $350,000.00 needed to rebuild and the restaurant reopened on February 11 of 2008.

O'Rourke's has been rebuilt in the same style as before the fire, as a classic, tin-fronted diner from the 1940s and Brian O'Rourke, chef and nephew of the original owner, continues to serve up delightful (if slightly pricey when compared to more plebian diners) breakfasts and lunches.

When my family went to O'Rourke's at 11:00 on Friday morning, we stood in line on the sidewalk for several minutes before getting a table. Once ensconced in a booth, we spent some time pondering over the offerings before finally settling on our choices. Kimberly, who was forced to eat eggs every morning as a child and hated them, even doused in ketchup, had a bit of a challenge, since most of the breakfast options at O'Rourke's involve eggs. She ended up getting blueberry pancakes with fruit syrup and clotted cream.

My son and I are both happy ovivores and found ourselves almost overwhelmed by the number or unusual combinations that Chef Brian's menu offered to us. Ian, who is usually very happy with a standard diner breakfast of scrambled eggs, sausage and homefries, realized that this was no time for the "usual" and opted for the "Dubliner" breakfast, consisting of a corned-beef hash omelette with Irish bacon and a side of fingerling potatoes with Irish soda bread and jam. I couldn't resist the special of the day, the "surf and turf" breakfast that consisted of a crawfish frittata and duck hash. (There was also a "surf and surf" option, with the frittata being accompanied by salmon cakes, but I'm a sucker for duck.)

While we waited for breakfast to arrive, our server brought us samples of fresh bakedgoods and they were all delightful, but we had no intention of filling up before getting to our meals. After only a short wait, our breakfasts arrived and they were ever bit as good as we had hoped.

Kimberly's pancakes were delicous, though a bit sweet for her liking, almost like dessert. The fruit sauce had whole raspberries in it and the dish was topped with a generous dollop of clotted cream.

Ian enjoyed his "Dubliner" breakfast, noting that the omelette was good and devouring the potatoes, though he grudgingly let me try a bite of one of them. He liked the hamlike Irish bacon, but was too full to try the soda-bread toast, which I managed to snag off of his plate before our server cleared the table.

Several of the staff at O'Rourke's had highly praised the duck hash, and they were right. It was well-seasoned and had plenty of duck breast meat, along with chunks of beef, potatoes, carrot, broccoli rabe and turnip. Still, I found the real treasure of my breakfast to be the crawfish frittata. It was rich and flavorful, with just the right seasoning to highlight the flavor of the crawfish tails that made up a generous portion of the dish.

My wife and I "accidentally" ended up back at O'Rourke's for brunch on Saturday, too, when we tried to go to the Tibetan restaurant down the block and found that it had closed. Back at O'Rourke's, Kimberly had the Irish bangers and homefries while I ordered the Cajun Firecracker omelet. Again, we were both pleased with the food and the service. This time, our server went out of his way to suggest condiments to improve our meal. (Who ever thought that horseradish sauce would make andouille sausage taste even better??)

We're glad to see that O'Rourke's is back in business and are looking forward to trying even more of Chef Brian's inspired creations next time.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We always go to ORourkes and the food is always spectacular. Some very innovative and one of kind items. Dinner at ORourkes Friday and Saturday is a must try. The most gourmet diner around.