After eating at The Pantry in Green Mountain Falls, you might want to either watch a Hallmark movie, because the cozy, unassuming restaurant evokes such a sense of comfort, or trek up the Manitou Incline to expend calories from a hearty meal.
Either way, be prepared for hefty servings of well-prepared food. Barely off the heavily trafficked U.S. 24, this down-to-earth diner is popular among locals and those stopping en route to points east or west. In addition to the good eats, the appeal is simple: reasonable prices and impressive service.
Our timing was perfect on a recent chilly morning: We arrived before the crowds started milling, so we had our choice of tables.
The breakfast fare is beyond the basic eggs, toast and bacon and well past the standard pancakes and French toast ($5.99). These breakfast benchmarks are available, but there's more than meets the eyes with the latter. Thick slices of house-made bread are the foundation for this classic dish. For an extra half buck, order the cinnamon raisin bread version.
For a truly decadent variation, go for The Pantry's signature special cinnamon roll French toast breakfast ($9.99). A house-made cinnamon roll is sliced horizontally; the cut halves are lightly dipped in egg batter before hitting the grill top. The aromatic flavoring of the spice and sugary frosting remain intact. It is a meal in itself, but there's more. Two slices of bacon, two scrambled eggs and a choice of country potatoes or hash browns (I had the latter) complete the order.
My dining companions are Pantry pros and offered plenty of suggestions, such as advising me that the potatoes can be ordered in any level of crispiness. I'm a fan of brittle hash browns that still maintain their potato creaminess. I asked for extra crispy, and that is just what was on the plate. They also suggested a small side of the sausage gravy, usually reserved for the biscuits and gravy. We used the rich, mushy sauce full of small pieces of pork sausage for dipping the country-style spuds. These are sliced disk-like, making for easy dunking.
Nearly all of the breakfast entrees offer a potato choice. They were a 99-cent add-on for a few items, including the five varieties of eggs Benedict. We selected the Baby Doe ($8.99), featuring poached eggs served atop a well-toasted English muffin with a true Hollandaise sauce enhanced, as if possible, by slices of avocado and bacon. The sauce, combined with the eggs, was smooth and silky.
The breakfast burrito ($9.79) has all of the usual elements: scrambled eggs, cheese and sausage. It's topped with house-made chili con carne, but on our server's recommendation we had that on the side. Good thing. The sausage provided a subtle kick on its own. This was amplified by the bold piquancy of the chili. It was flavorful, potent and could have overwhelmed the burrito had it been poured on top. It was nice to control the heat level, at least a little.
As the restaurant began to fill, our server's attention never wavered. Although she was the lone waitperson, she kept coffee mugs and water glasses filled, checked in after the food was served and presented the bill in a timely manner.
The décor is rustic with an array of knick-knacks and natural lighting. It looks like Grandma's house, and the food is just as good.