Monday, September 23, 2013

Café Raymond: Overlooked by Those Seeking the Overrated

I always shake my head as I pass the line of tourists who are waiting for their turns to scrounge on greasy plates from a certain local breakfast spot in the strip… no doubt taking their recommendations from a re-run of Man vs. Food.   Apparently many out-of-towners are fans of the overrated.  In fact, they are so blinded by plates covered with entire cans of Reddi Whip, that they are missing out on one of the true “best breakfasts” in town just a few blocks up the strip.  If you prefer quality over excessive quantity, it’s time to skip the line and give Café Raymond the attention it deserves. 

Café Raymond is fittingly named after Raymond Mikesell.  He’s a yinzer from the Northside with some serious food credits.  He’s baked for famous peeps like Cal Ripken Jr. and has lived in romantic places like France…he also lived amongst the dirty birdy fans of Baltimore for a decade, but let’s move on.  He could have opened his café anywhere, but we’re lucky enough to have Chef Raymond back in the ‘Burgh. 

As you approach the café, you’ll see some al fresco tables where patrons are often found freely advertising the fresh, local ingredients to be had.  Once inside, you can peruse the chalkboard menu of breakfast and lunch items.  On Saturdays and Sundays they offer up two breakfast specials, most often a specialty omelet and pancakes, in addition to the regular menu.  A few weeks ago I had the most amazing breakfast sandwich.  It was egg, applewood smoked bacon, mixed greens, tomato, and chipotle mayo on perfectly toasted slices of brioche.  I seriously could’ve eaten an entire loaf of that bread… causing all the gluten heads to cover their eyes and hide their children.  I also love their seasonal pancake specials…the Blueberry Ricotta are deceivingly light and fluffy considering they are made using buckwheat.  I’m looking forward to this fall when I can fulfill my pumpkin pancake cravings. 

Brioche Breakfast Sandwich...yes, I had already eaten half when I remembered to snap a pic.
Blueberry Ricotta Pancakes
The hubby is a fan of omelets and Café Raymond serves them up right…wildly fluffy and filled with savory treats like spinach, fresh mozzarella, and pesto or perhaps some smoked salmon and scallions.  And better yet, omelets are served with oven-roasted potatoes.  When he’s in the mood for a meatier brunch, he orders the Pastrami Sandwich.  While this is technically on the lunch menu, Café Raymond will add an egg to this already behemoth of a sammie if you say, “Please.”  You could easily split this bad boy with a friend.  (While I'm usually there to munch on breakfast goodies, I must note that all of the sandwiches I've tried have been yummy, fresh, and filling.  You can choose from a variety of salads or dine on a daily lunch special as well.)

Spinach Omelet and Oven Roasted Potatoes
Pastrami Sandwich with Egg
Once you’re stuffed and feeling like you need to loosen your belt, there’s only one thing left to do…get dessert of course!  As mentioned, Raymond is a first class baker and his pastries are more than delicious.  My old faithful is the Blueberry Custard Croissant.  The dough is flaky and crisp, making the perfect basket for the creamy custard and perfectly sweetened berries sitting inside.  I’d recommend getting there early because they usually sell out. 

Blueberry Custard Croissant
I am always a fan of eating local, but some local eateries are just better than others.  I can honestly say (without any hoopla) that Café Raymond is doing it right, and you’d be wrong to pass up this gem during your next visit to the Strip. 

I give Café Raymond: 5/5 forks
2103 Penn Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Weekday Lunch Specials

Neighborhood: Strip District

Cafe Raymond on Urbanspoon

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