While there are a variety things that make for a noteworthy college town, good food surely tops the list. Without stellar eateries, a town is simply not whole. Among the most imperative quadrants of cuisine to get right, is breakfast. Fortunately for me, Ithaca, New York (my home for the next 4 years) is chock-full of fine breakfast joints.
While I have not had time to explore the entirety of the breakfast scene in Ithaca, I was lucky enough to sample one of the town’s most well-renowned morning hotspots. The Coal Yard Cafe has been lauded by students and visitors alike as a hidden culinary gem. Hidden is the key word. Tucked away at the far edge of the central campus, the CYC blends in with the upstate New York woodlands. The leaf-green exterior of the restaurant perfectly matches the pines that surround it; and the cabin-like appearance of the building transports you deep into the forest.
After locating the isolated joint, we stormed into the Coal Yard Cafe with a hunger that could only be tamed by breakfast food. Once we selected our table, we made our way up to the ordering counter and scanned the well-stocked menu. Following much contemplation, we settled on the Danwich, a Spinach Omelette, the Rice Bowl and a Cake Donut. To wash down our feast, we ordered a London Fog and a Nutella Latte.
The Danwich was delectable. Similar in make up to a Bacon, Egg and Cheese, the Danwich was created with several crunchy slabs of thick-cut bacon, stacked on top of a buttery fried egg and sandwiched in between two porous English muffin halves. The breakfast treat was finished off with a generous slathering of silky chipotle sauce.
The Spinach Omelette, while simple in design, offered the consumer a surprising intricacy of flavors. Fried to a bubbly, buttery perfection, the Spinach Omelette was packed to the gills with warm, tender greens. While spinach has never been my number one filling for anything, this veggie-filled omelette was delightful.
The Rice Bowl was vivid and beautiful in presentation. The vibrant colors of the dish were matched by the bold flavors of the food. Built on a thick layer of sticky jasmine rice, the bowl was crafted with a radiant medley of fresh cucumbers and carrots, a mound of juicy, seasoned pork, a plump, supple fried egg, a velvety segment of avocado, a crumbling of crispy peanuts for texture and scallion shavings & sweet chili sauce to round out the dish. Although, on the outset a Rice Bowl for breakfast sounds slightly ludicrous, it is actually a stroke of pure genius. Any lover of breakfast foods (both savory and sweet) would mutually adore this dish.
The Cake Donut was not one of a kind, but it was certainly a tasty crescendo to our meal. The flavors of the donut were slightly below par, but the texture was on point. The exterior of the dessert was firm and oily, and the interior was soft and pillowy. The donut was finished with a generous dusting of powdered sugar, the perfect garnish to any sweet treat.
Both the London Fog and the Nutella Latte were creamy, steamy and dreamy. Warm drinks are the ideal choice when the aim of the meal is to savor the food. Few are able to down a hot beverage quickly and thus they have the ability to last the full-extent of a drawn out meal.
Overall, the Coal Yard Cafe was a winner on all fronts and I will certainly be a frequent resident, during my four years in college. I would give it ZZZZX- 4 and ¼ Z’s – Well Worth a Visit.