Where success is a windfallEat This!, Latest Issue Thursday, October 26th, 2017
I am not a breakfast person. I spell breakfast C-O-F-F-E-E. With milk and sugar, thank you. If I’m in a diner eating eggs and bacon and toast, then I’m on my way home after a night at the club. But a deadline sometimes forces a person to leave their comfort zone and get the story regardless of preferences. And that’s how I found myself on an orange vinyl stool in the middle of the morning at Café 222’s stainless steel topped counter.
The small bright space has an open kitchen, lime sherbet green walls adorned with art and multiple awards, tea cup and saucer chandeliers overhead and blonde wood accents. A shelf displays T-shirts, mugs, refrigerator magnets and waffle mix for sale. Cozy and welcoming.
Seattle native Terryl Gavre invested revenues from a made-for-TV movie based on her previous business endeavor and opened Café 222 fifteen years ago. Her personal service of shopping, cooking, baking and managing other domestic responsibilities for Emerald City celebrities and athletes inspired the storyline for “This Wife for Hire.” Rest assured her prior success is a windfall for ravenous San Diegans.
Senad my friendly, humble and intently focused waiter, was a dervish of activity. He seemed to seat patrons, deliver meals and clean cleared tables all at once. I was awed by his performance. With a smile, he filled my glass with ice water and presented the menu.
Café 222 serves breakfast and lunch seven days a week. Breakfast selections include three egg scrambles made with pesto, tomatoes and goat cheese, or diced Spam, spinach and Monterey jack. Specialties include chicken fried steak and eggs, or huevos rancheros. Hot off the griddle pancakes are topped with caramelized bananas, or vanilla and pecans. Waffle varieties like blueberry cornbread or strawberry shortcake, are so delectable they’ve been featured in Gourmet magazine.
The expansive windows allow plenty of natural light and provide a view of the outdoor seating and the activity on the corner of Second and Island. I observed the Gaslamp Quarter bustle and waited for breakfast.
Moments later, I sipped the chilled fresh orange juice ($3.75) set before me and felt the vitamin C coursing through my veins. So sweet and citrusy, a burst of handpicked sunshine in every swallow. (Just between us, if I’m having a bite before noon, I prefer my orange juice diluted with champagne or tequila).
While tempted by waffles and pancakes, I opted instead for Eggs Benedict ($13.25), and substituted a homemade buttermilk biscuit ($2) for the English muffin. Served with griddled skin-on red potatoes, bell peppers and onions, two slices of hearty smokey ham accompany perfectly poached eggs atop a fluffy fork-split biscuit beneath a ladleful of delicate buttery hollandaise sauce. A scatter of diced tomatoes completes the presentation. I prefer a little more lemon flavor in a hollandaise, but regardless, the dish is savory, robust and expertly prepared.
Like I said, Gavre’s success is a windfall for San Diegans. In addition to Café 222, Gavre teamed up with Chef Carl Schroder in 2010 and opened Bankers Hill Bar + Restaurant (“Life is delicious at Bankers Hill”, issue No. 177). You can even grab a Bankers Hill sandwich from a kiosk in Terminal 1 at the airport, or visit her latest venture, Bake Sale Bakery, in East Village.
222 Island Ave.
Open daily 7 a.m.-1:45 p.m.
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