Thursday, August 4, 2011


Beth's Café
7311 Aurora Avenue North
Seattle, WA

Hours: 24 hours
Alcohol: None
Cuisine: Diner Food, Especially Omelets

Suit603 is a charter member of the Clean Plate Club.

Leftovers just aren't as good, and it's another thing to carry through security.

And it’s just a waste of money to leave it on the plate.

But I thought I might need a doggy bag when I found out that omelets at Beth’s Café were as big as they are.

You see, the *small* ones are made with six eggs and come with a huge heap of hash browns that are all you can eat (meaning, you can get more) -- the large ones are made with a full twelve eggs and are served on a metal plate that would usually hold a medium pizza.

Some groups split them three ways, though some brave souls were trying to eat ‘em alone even though, as the menu says, there's no prize for finishing the twelve egg omelet aside from pride at a job well done.

Apparently Man v. Food couldn’t finish one, though that’s not really surprising, since that guy’s kind of the Derek Jeter of the big-eating world: all fame, no performance.

I felt pretty lucky to run into the place when all I’d searched for was a 24-hour diner that wasn’t Denny’s to grab a late dinner at after a long day of meetings.

The menu’s really simple, and it seems like the main things people order are the omelets and then milkshakes.

I thought about getting eggs over easy for a moment, but at the end of the day, a Suit orders the specialty of the house, unless that involves green vegetables.

So I ordered the six egg “full house” omelet with ham, American cheese and mushrooms.

As I waited for my meal, I looked at the walls, which were absolutely covered with crayon drawings left by patrons. Evidently at year’s end, the staff votes on its ten favorite, which get put in a place of honor for the next year.

And it was a wait for food, and I found out why on the way out: this place suffers from a serious lack of grill space, given what they do.

A 12-egg omelet takes up literally half of their grill, while the hash browns take up the other half, meaning that if you get behind a few of those, you’re automatically going to have to wait 15-20 minutes for breakfast food, which is just way too long.

If I were the owner, I’d at least double the size of the grill -- their hung-over clientele probably isn’t moving all that fast anyway (the place was voted the best place in Seattle to cure a hangover), but a diner still needs to turn out food reasonably fast for the occasional late-night road warrior looking for a quick bite.

But when my food came, it was worth the wait. The chunks of ham in there are clearly from a real ham that they make themselves, and the egg’s fluffy enough that you know that they beat the eggs themselves (well, if you don’t see ‘em doing it on your way in).

But a problem with the sheer size of these omelets is that large parts of them don’t have any filling in them at all. I don’t know if there’s something they could do with sprinkling the fillings out more instead of dumping them in the middle on the grill (this would probably mess up putting the omelet together), but the reason you order an omelet is to get fillings + eggs in every bite, and this omelet didn’t deliver.

But that wasn’t such a problem that I didn’t finish the omelet -- no, this was far too tasty to let it slip, and I even finished my hash browns too: kind of hard not to have at least most of them, since they’re right under the omelet.

Somehow, I managed to get through the whole omelet and didn’t even feel that full at the end, so I decided to order a piece of their friendship bread that I saw a couple other patrons eating.

It was definitely worth it: still warm, with the cinnamon sugar on top tasting just about perfect.

By this time, the bar crowd was starting to file in, and service was much, much slower. I had to flag down a waiter to get a refill on a drink (it took a solid five minutes), and I was disappointed that they didn’t even offer me seconds on hash browns.

Not that I would have taken ‘em, but given that they're allegedly “all you can eat,” I was a little disappointed.

So I sat for a little bit and then went to pay -- again a belabored process because the people in front of me were trying to figure out split tickets, but I left happy, even if my 9 AM the next morning was half an hour closer than I really wanted it to be.

Summing it up, this is definitely a place I’m happy to have gone to, and one I’d go back to again if I’m famished and have time on my hands in Seattle.

But only under those two conditions.

Rating: Would Wear a Free Shirt

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