The real breakfast of champions

The Taste Bud

Earlier this year, I presented in these pages the story of the breakfast sandwich that broke my dog. That sandwich came from Bread and Breakfast, a quaint bakery and sandwich shop located at 157 E. Main St. in downtown New Albany.

As it happens, my friend Jill began working there recently and told me last week that the new, extended menu features something called the “Breakfast Tour” — basically, a sampler of the small cafe’s signature breakfast items. Of course, I knew immediately it was time for a return visit.

Jill and owner Laura Buckingham greeted me when I arrived a couple of mornings later, showing me all the improvements that had been made to the dining area and kitchen since I first visited not long after the place opened. They’ve even added a baking table that looks out onto Bank Street, so be sure to wave to Laura as she makes her homemade pastries and breads.

And then I placed my order for the Breakfast Tour: a biscuit smothered in sausage gravy, two slices of bacon (sausage is an option too), two eggs over medium, a slice of French toast (you can also get a hotcake) with maple syrup, and home fries. It’s a lot of food. Forget Wheaties — this is the real breakfast of champions.

“Is your body ready for this?” Jill asked as she approached my table with this insane breakfast feast. Guess we were about to find out. 

After dousing the eggs and home fries in some habanero sauce, I went to work, starting with the fries. Hand-cut and fresh, they were tender and browned just right. Check. Then I took a bite of the biscuit, which was presented in a mini cast iron skillet, swimming in gravy. The biscuit was light and fluffy, and the gravy was the perfect consistency with a rich flavor. (I added pepper to get a bit more spice out of the sausage.)

I could say it was delicious, but that might not cover it, so here’s what I’ll say: For a moment, the thought crossed my mind that the biscuit and gravy I was eating might rival my late Mammaw’s biscuits and gravy. I know Mammaw’s rolling her eyes at me in heaven, but Bread and Breakfast makes a damn good biscuit and gravy.

Then I tried the locally sourced, farm-fresh eggs. As expected, they were cooked perfectly, with just a bit of crispness forming at the edges of the whites. And if you’ve had local, farm-fresh eggs, you know how good they are — the whole thing tastes like yolk, it seems. I haven’t eaten a store-bought egg in probably three years, and there’s a reason for that.

Then I took a bite of the bacon, which is also sourced locally from Miller’s Meats and Produce in Corydon, Indiana. Suffice to say this is not your store-bought Oscar Mayer bacon — this stuff was fresh, thick, salty and amazing. I fought the urge to order all the bacon they had. Yes, it was that much better than what typically awaits you at the supermarket.

I tasted the French toast last because: 1) I’m not really into sweets and 2) it seemed right, since that was the closest thing on my plates to a dessert. This French toast is lightly dusted in powdered sugar, served with syrup on the side. But it’s not your everyday French toast: It is made with Buckingham’s cinnamon-swirl bread, which is sliced — and I swear this is the truth — about an inch thick. Maybe more.

It’s difficult to describe how decadent this thing is, but think of it as what might happen if traditional French toast married a giant cinnamon roll, and they had a really big baby. Something like that. Good grief, it was good — it was like breakfast crack or something.

For good measure, Laura made me a miniature hotcake to try (I had trouble making up my mind); it was good, but the French toast trumps it. I also got a taste of Jill’s homemade apple butter, and that’s another winner. (She also makes homemade jams for Bread and Breakfast.)

It’s worth the drive down I-64 to take this Breakfast Tour. I didn’t come near finishing mine, but I’m not the hearty eater I used to be. Oh, and Jill offered up one more tidbit before I left: coming soon to the menu? Locally sourced steak and eggs.

I’m going to start dieting now.