Tired of the boring old, over-cooked eggs, flaccid bacon and burnt toast? Sick of the cold coffee and dry pancakes? Looking for a shift in your monotonous breakfast routine? Well look no further than O’Rourke’s Diner in Middletown, CT !(www.orourkesmiddletown.com/)
O’Rourke’s has been dishing out authentic Irish breakfast (and lunch) classics with a fantastic American twist since 1941, and over those years they have perfectly honed their craft. If you are looking to add some real spice to you current breakfast pattern, O’Rourke’s is your spot.
As one of those people who have grown tired of the normal breakfast scene, O’Rourke’s was at the top of my list. On the way to our Rhode Island based food adventure, my father and I were lucky enough to dine there.
Despite my building excitement, Mother Nature had other ideas for how I should be spending my breakfast. While I hoped for a sunny, warm morning in which to enjoy my meal at O’Rourke’s, I was instead served a miserable overcast day. As the rain fell loudly onto the windshield of the car, I was optimistic that my meal at O’Rourke’s would brighten an otherwise bleak day.
As I approached the shimmering metal exterior and vibrant neon sign of the historic diner, a smile began to creep across my face. By the time I had gotten out of the car and stepped into the inside of O’Rourke’s, my sadness about the inclement weather had all but faded away.
O’Rourke’s is typically packed to the gills in the mornings, but luckily we arrived right in the nick of time and were squeezed into the corner of the restaurant.
As we were seated, a waiter immediately brought us a plate of assorted breads, “baked by Brian” (the owner of the breakfast joint).
We received two small pieces of Irish Soda Bread, and something that is truly hard to categorize (I will explain in a moment).
The Irish Soda Bread was moist on the inside and presented a firm exterior. The bread was slightly tangy and the ideal item to prepare the pallet for the upcoming meal.
The other bread was a sweet donut hole-like creation, made from the crumbs from the other breads. These crumbs are mixed with copious amounts of sugar, and formed into balls. These “crumb-balls” are finished with a generous dusting of powdered sugar. The “crumb-balls” had a oddly soggy, mealy consistency, but were tasty nonetheless.
After our bread, we began crafting our order. My father and I decided on, an Irish Fry, a Corned Beef Sampler, and a Spinach Chorizo Frittata.
The Irish Fry was a marvelous homage to its name-sake country of Ireland. The fry was made up of Irish Bacon, two eggs, corned beef hash, brown bread and home fries. Irish Bacon is similar in appearance to ham, but the wonderfully salty taste, and the glassy, crisp texture is what sets it apart from the pack. The crunchy-ness of the bacon was soothed by the delicate, supple eggs.
The eggs were extremely buttery and moist on the outside, and the yolk was silky and velvety, the ideal textures of an egg. The corned beef hash was the perfect amalgamation of crumbled, steamy Irish potatoes and juicy, delicate pieces of corned beef. To accompany the main aspects of the dish, we were given a few slices of dense, thick Irish Brown Bread (to sop up the goopy egg-yolk), and a mountain of spicy, firm hash browns.
If you ever have a craving for corned beef that is so strong you can’t bear eating anything except for the Irish classic, than this is the dish for you. The Corned Beef Sampler was created with four corned beef infused items (a baked potato with cheese and corned beef, an empanada with corned beef, a delightful hash browns with corned beef, and corned beef straight up).
The corned beef baked potato was, this may sound corn-y, but baked to perfection. The potato was scraped of it’s mealy insides and the skin was cooked to a flawless crunchiness. The potato’s insides were then mashed and mixed with an abundance of melted cheese and tender morsels of corned beef. Finally the crispy shell was filled to the very brim with the potato mash.
While when you think about typical fillings for an empanada, corned beef is not the first thing to come to mind, but that is no reason not to try it. The empanada was crusty on the outside, and filled with saucy corned beef nuggets on the inside. The empanada was surprisingly delicious and I would definitely give the final push to anyone who has any hesitation about giving it a try.
The minuscule portion of corned beef hash browns we received abounded with flavor. Along with the usual hunks of potatoes, the hash was served with saucy, sweet caramelized onions and a good deal of shredded, succulent corned beef.
Finally, our plain old corned beef, was neither plain nor old! The dense slabs of corned beef were deliciously smokey and were cut with the perfect segment of fat (to infuse flavor and juice in the beef). The only complaint I have about the corned beef sampler was the immense saltiness of the dish as a whole.
During the last leg of our breakfast extravaganza we dug into our spinach chorizo frittata. The frittata was spongy and porous, and was filled with a smattering of tender, cooked spinach and spicy chorizo. The frittata was accompanied with a disappointing veggie and potato hash, and a tangle of ordinary marinated, lightly dressed salad.
While I am surely not one to seek out a spinach frittata on a menu, I was pleasantly surprised with how eggs-celent it was.
Overall, our meal at O’Rourke’s really was successful at brightening my day, and although the sun still hadn’t peeked through the clouds when we left the restaurant, my stomach was full and a smile was present on my face, and that is what is important.
I would recommend giving O’Rourke’s a try if you are ever in the vicinity of Middletown, Connecticut. I would give it, ZZZZ- 4 Z’s- the perfect breakfast spot!