by Jeff Hake
Breakfast in Boston is dedicated to finding delicious morning meals, best enjoyed with friends and loved ones. Enjoy!
Powderhouse Square, 136 College Avenue, Somerville, MA
no website; on-line menu is out of date
Price range: $9-14
Vegetarian friendly, but not vegan
My girlfriend and I went to Broken Yolk on a warm, sunny Valentine’s Day, excited to eat our favorite meal in someone else’s kitchen. We have an affinity for cheap, hearty breakfasts, and my reading of the menu in passing the week before told me that that was what we could expect. I was also intrigued by the “under new management” sign on the front door, and so built up our trip to Broken Yolk a bit too much.
Upon entering, we were already confused. WODS 103.3 (“The 60s, 70s, and now the 80s!”) was our first greeting, and the lack of signage, host or hostess, and prior knowledge left us standing at the door awkwardly, glancing about at the almost-billboard-sized menu on the wall and the mostly empty tables. We eventually decided to seat ourselves, across from a table containing a disheveled newspaper and an ownerless cellphone. Shortly thereafter, a young woman came over and asked us, “do you guys need anything?” We stared for a moment, unsure of what to say. This was not quite how meals out usually started. She then offered, “or would you like some menus?” We said yes, as the wall menu was huge but still hard to read without craning or getting up.
The selection was large and varied, and we spent some moments in silence, pondering somewhat worn menus with numerous typos. The prices ranged widely, and while there were some cheap options, the more desirable choices were closer to the prices of any other cafe in the area. Ruth chose the Californian Eggs Benedict, while I settled on the breakfast burrito.
When we ordered, I asked for a side of homefries and was given a choice of sliced or shredded. Ruth’s meal came with them, but she was not offered this option. We both asked for orange juice, which lead to an awkward exchange in which she explained that the drinks were in bottles in the cooler behind us and all three of us had trouble deciding who was going to go and get them.
Ruth and I attempted to confide in each other about the slightly odd occurrences in the restaurant, and how the not-exactly-professional kitchen was left open to plain view, revealing shelves with tubs of bagels, cans of diced tomatoes, and paper towel rolls side by side, amongst other items. However, it was difficult to speak freely because the cafe was both small and empty. Our meals came out promptly, but any conversation about them or the cafe were then quashed when the cook, a friendly guy who turned out to be our server’s father, sat down to the newspaper and phone across from us, making him privy to every word we had to say. This reduced our conversation to gustatory compliments and plans for the rest of our Valentine’s Day, any critiques being subjugated to my notebook.
The food was a mixed bag, though I fared somewhat better than Ruth. My burrito was simple and tasty, with white beans, cheese, salsa and jalapenos, and while its spiciness caused me to not completely finish, this was also welcome and not unexpected. My shredded homefries were also crisp and flaky and a nice complement to my meal. Ruth enjoyed her eggs benedict, but in no uncertain terms, she wrote down “dry homefries” while we ate. Sampling one myself, they turned out to be undercooked and bland.
Midway through our meal, I ordered a cup of tea. Though the only option was Lipton, it was at least served with piping hot fresh water and was satisfactory. However, this was also around the time that we began to notice a fruit fly or two circling our table. Again, we could not comment on this occurrence, but through eye contact, we communicated our concern about this latest development.
You can only pay in cash at Broken Yolk, which was not advertised, so we relented to use the in-store ATM and deal with the fees. The machine did not work on Ruth and I’s first three tries, but eventually it spit out a $20 bill. We ended up spending a bit over $23 on the meal, more than expected, and exited in as awkward a fashion as we had entered, leaving an empty cafe behind us.
Was a meal for two at Broken Yolk worth $23? No. Was the food good? It ranged between edible and tasty. Was the atmosphere nice? No, it was bizarre at worst, quirky at best. Would I go back? With the amount of options that the Boston area has to offer, I absolutely would not bother unless I discovered fine print on the “under new management” sign that said “coming soon”!
Jeff Hake is in his last semester of the Agriculture, Food and the Environment program at the Friedman School, so long as everything goes according to plan. He really likes tea, breakfast and farms, and spends a lot of time thinking about each of those things everyday.