Breakfasts are celebrations of waking up. Most are small-scale – a bagel and some coffee, perhaps.
At the other end is anything you might order at Eggstasy.
Eggstasy is a newish family of restaurants serving breakfast and lunch with an emphasis on wild and unlimited concepts of breakfast, realized with fresh ingredients and careful preparation. Nutella Red Velvet pancakes. Prosciutto Benedict. A barbacoa omelet with roasted sweet corn and Hatch chiles. Brioche with fontina, asparagus, and egg fried in truffle butter. Every item says “order me,” and even the health food options are inviting, including both a savory and a sweet quinoa bowl.
Founder and owner Peter Verros, the son of a Chicago-based restaurateur, has been in the business of breakfast restaurants for most of his 41 years. It shows in the detail Eggstasy brings to its preparation and presentation. The English muffin that nestled my Benedict on a recent visit was perfectly toasted and lightly crisp on the surface, yet soft inside. The hash browns that accompanied it had no hint of grease, yet they were evenly browned and warm. It came as no surprise to find out that the hash browns are made in-house, and the English muffins are baked fresh on site every morning.
Verros’ Greek lineage shows in some of the dishes, including a “hand-stacked gyro hash” and a number of omelets and skillets featuring feta. He gets both his national heritage and a love of the restaurant business from his father, who arrived in Chicago at age 17 from Greece, worked as a dishwasher, saved his money and eventually opened a restaurant.
“Then he opened another and another… and another,” Verros recalls. “He did business on the Chicago loop for 50 years. I was raised into the industry and loved it. At 18, I started my own restaurant in a Chicago suburb.”
That was the first Eggstasy – a breakfast restaurant, like every restaurant Verros has ever opened. The name was the result of Verros deciding not to call his place “something boring like George’s Pancake House.”
“All I’ve done is breakfast restaurants my whole life. The restaurant business is a tough lifestyle, but with a breakfast place at least you get off work at 3 p.m.,” he says (of course, Verros starts his day at 5 a.m.).
What brought Verros and his love of breakfast to Arizona?
“One winter a few years ago, it was about 14 degrees below zero in Chicago,” he says. “I came to Scottsdale, looked around, and said goodbye to Chicago. Who needs the cold?”
During my visit, I ordered the Benedict of the day ($19.95), a surf-and-turf special with one half of the English muffin topped by a 3-ounce filet mignon, and the other a crab cake. (Most of Eggstasy’s Benedicts range from $11.95 to $15.95; this was a one-timer.) Either half would have sufficed, but I was out to push Eggstasy’s capabilities to the limit, and I was not disappointed. The crab cake was flaky and flavorful, the filet tender and rich.
My companion ordered the pumpkin cheesecake pancakes ($11.95) flanked by apple gouda chicken sausage ($4.95). Turns out the pumpkin cheesecake pancakes are the flagship of Verros’s many pancake innovations, a recipe he invented back in Chicago and brought west. Other more recent flapjack variations include banana macadamia ($12.95), jelly donut ($10.95) and raspberry white chocolate ($11.95).
To an innovative menu and attentive preparation, add friendly, prompt service and one other, surprising element: first-rate coffee. I had resigned myself to the apparent fact that mornings meant choosing between good food at a restaurant and good coffee at a coffee shop. Verros’s decision to use La Vazza, a premium Italian roast that’s smooth and slightly smoky, changes that.
If you rise late in the day and find it’s lunch time, you can still order from Eggstasy’s breakfast menu, but an extensive lunch menu of sandwiches, salads, burgers and wraps is also available.
The Eggstasy menu makes for good reading and culinary fantasy. Find it at eggstasyaz.com. Find the restaurant itself at one of three Scottsdale locations: DC Ranch, Market Street; 10155 E. Via Linda; and 6990 E. Shea Boulevard. Eggstasy is open from 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily. Call 480-500-5889 for directions and more info.