At first glance, outside and in, the Northside Grill looks like a common cafe: bare tables, green-upholstered booths, knotty pine walls, a waitress patrolling the dining room with three different pots of coffee in her two hands (regular, decaf, flavored). But at first bite, it is extraordinary.
Even before the food arrives, you’ll notice that it is a diner with a difference. At 7:30am, the radio is tuned to NPR’s “Morning Edition”; when you order coffee and choose French roast, the waitress says, “Good! It’s fair trade organic.” Bacon is billed as nitrate free and eggs are laid by cage-free chickens. You begin to realize that the Elvis iconography on the walls has a twist of cultural irony.
There can be no question about an elevated consciousness at work in the kitchen when you ease a fork down into a stack of apple-oat bran pancakes. The cakes really have a tweedy oatmeal texture and they are studded with large chunks of apple that deliver fruity tang and cinnamon vibe. Real maple syrup is an extra-cost add-on, well worth the price.
Potato pancakes are beautiful. Crisp and crunchy on the outside but creamy within and sparkling with herbs and spices, they come topped with slivers of grilled red onion and ramekins of sour cream and apple sauce.
Breakfast skillets, built upon hash browns and topped with eggs, meats, and cheeses of choice, are mountainous.
The Northside Grill’s goodness is no secret. Expect to wait for a table any day, especially on weekends.