Red Eye Cafe
94 Walnut Street
Montclair NJ 07042
Entering the Red Eye Cafe one is greeted by a counter of baked goods and the noise of a cappuccino machine, but not hostess. Looking around for a minute at the coffee shop style counter, your eye eventually notices the cash register and four staff members standing on the other end. We walked over to see what the deal was, gave them our name, and walked back towards the door to wait. While waiting, at least handful of people walked in, stood for a few seconds, and then asked us if we knew where to put their name down to wait. I'm sure this system has worked for them, but there were a couple of people who walked in, saw people waiting, and walked back out. With other great breakfast restaurants in the area, this seems like an easy fix to make sure your customers feel welcomed the minute they walk in.
We were seated about 15 minutes later. Our waiter left us with menus and waters. He promptly returned to ask what we would like to drink. We both ordered medium red eye coffees. Our freshly brewed coffee came back in large mugs, which was a nice homey touch. We are coffee lovers, but not latte enthusiasts, so we can only comment on the regular coffee, which tasted very good!
Our waiter came back a little later to take our orders. Once again, we couldn't help ourselves, and had to order something sweet to share. We had read that the Buttermilk Pancakes were absolutely amazing, so we ordered them with Blueberries. They were perfectly cooked; fluffy on the inside and slightly crisp on the outside. To our pleasant surprise, they were completely filled with blueberries! The blueberries were the centerpiece of the pancakes, unlike many places that just add them sparingly. There is nothing negative to say about these pancakes.
One of the two savory dishes we ordered was the Red Eye Hash. It comes with two fried eggs over parsnip, potato, roast beef hash with red eye gravy on top. The eggs were a little over done, but the red eye gravy was superb and worked well with the hearty elements of the dish. The parsnip was an unusual addition to a traditional hash that added a level of sweetness that was not overbearing.Green Eggs & Ham? Yes please! Scrambled eggs with kale, shallots, gruyere and ham with multigrain toast and fruit salad. We were immediately drawn.The scrambled eggs were a little cold but otherwise delightful. The kale was cooked perfectly so that it still had a bite to it, the shallots were sliced thin, the ham was a nice contrast, and there was the right amount of salty gruyere. The fruit was fresh and a nice side to the rich eggs.
Overall the atmosphere is like a trendy NYC cafe. The chalkboard walls, subway tiles, and bookshelves make it cute and inviting. We do wish the staff had been more attentive and inviting, but this is more of a coffee shop style cafe than a restaurant, so if you go in with that mindset you won't be disappointed. We finished our brunch full and satisfied. We will not be returning for the service, but we may return for the food.