By ROBIN GARR
Every now and then you’ll encounter an idea so simple, yet so brilliant, that you’ll suck in your breath and think, “Wow! I wish I had thought of that!” And when such a bright idea concerns breakfast, it’s hard to see how things could get any better than that.
So say hello to SuperChef’s Breakfast, and a big tip of the old fedora to innovators Darnell Ferguson and Ryan Bryson, who came up with a creative way to jump from an award-winning culinary-school career to running their own restaurant, without all the capital expenses and costs and deal-making that such an entrepreneurial effort usually requires.
The secret is so simple that it makes you go “Whoa!” They’ve made a simple arrangement with two local eateries that didn’t normally open until lunch time. The “SuperChefs” come in and open the doors for breakfast, cook delicious morning meals for happy diners, and then get themselves out of the way so their host restaurant operators can start lunch business as usual at midday.
They launched the first SuperChef’s last summer, adding a morning shift to Chicago Gyros on Lower Brownsboro Road Wednesday through Saturday mornings and all day Sundays. More recently, they moved in, then participated in a remake and major expansion of the lunch counter at Seafood Connection in Chenoweth Square, where they do breakfast Wednesdays through Sundays.
Details of the menu may change from time to time – Ferguson and Bryson are creative guys, and Ferguson has honed his skills in the kitchens at Proof On Main, Napa River Grill and the Seelbach Hotel before taking charge of his own kitchen at 25. So he’s full of ideas.
The menu offers a choice of a half-dozen breakfast-style sandwiches, from $6.99 (for a BLT on a pretzel croissant with hash browns) to $9.99 (for SuperChefs’ “sliders” with hash browns. There’s a full dozen breakfast main-course specialties, with only one dish tagged at more than $10. The $12.99 apple-caramel pancakes are a spectacular presentation of thick but star-shaped pancakes stacked high on an artfully decorated plate.
If you’re on a tight budget, you can find plenty of deliciousness for as low as $5.99 a plate. A platter of sizzling beignets, crisp-fried and enhanced with a dab of creme anglaise, light enough to float to the ceiling, come in at that low toll with coffee included; the same charge will buy you the memorably savory roasted red-pepper grits with a pretzel croissant or a hearty bowl of peanut-butter-and-jelly oatmeal.
An order of breakfast tacos ($9.99) brought three hard-shell corn shells loaded with the chef’s own house-made sausage, fluffy scrambled eggs with cheese and a cheesy Mornay sauce, garnished with diced tomatoes and a small side of mesclun topped with salsa.
It was easy to miss seeing the tiny tri-color bell pepper and onion dice in my veggie omelet ($6.50), but I couldn’t complain about the flavor or construction of this fine specimen of the omelet-maker’s art, firm yet fluffy and steaming hot. Fine hash browns made even Waffle House’s iconic model look pitiful in comparison, and a mesclun garnish made it all seem healthy.
A great breakfast for two came to $21.61, plus a $5 tip for quick and friendly service.
In Chicago Gyros
2317 Brownsboro Road
In Seafood Connection
3941 Chenoweth Square