24 E. Cross St., (410) 539-8395, spoonsbaltimore.com
Adorned with aesthetically questionable paintings, a wooden carousel horse, and a forlorn giant spoon seated in a chair by the front window, Spoons Cafe (which CP accidentally left out of our Eat issue; our apologies) feels like the home of your eccentric and unquestionably favorite extended relative—the one who's already cooking and unearthing the booze at 8 a.m. on family vacations to nurse everyone's throbbing hangover. I recently dropped in looking for a similar remedy.
The Southern Benedict ($14) was the best benedict I've had in recent memory, though its only resemblance to a traditional benedict was the oozing poached eggs and hollandaise sauce—not too thick or rich, as is often the case. Heaps of tender, super-smoky pulled pork took the front seat, piled atop two halves of a buttery golden biscuit.
My dining partners ordered the Huevos Verdes ($13) and the Hangtown Fry ($14.50). The huevos included two eggs, which my friend ordered scrambled, between layers of black bean chili, salsa verde, and queso fresco over flour tortillas. Served in a cast-iron skillet, the Hangtown Fry is one of Spoons' many less typical breakfast choices: a fluffy omelet stuffed with green onion, bacon bits, and chicken-fried oysters and drizzled with a smoked paprika aioli. While they enjoyed their dishes, both diners agreed that they could both use more flavor—we added hot sauce to the Fry, since the aioli wasn't bringing much heat despite being advertised as spicy. But the fried oysters, not too chewy and deep-fried in a thick, crispy shell of batter, made for a positive new experience for my oyster noob friend. Everything came with a side of breakfast potatoes (the other option was cheese grits), which were not particularly exciting, though we appreciated that they weren't excessively greasy.
On a previous visit to Spoons, I ordered the Cinnamon Roll Pancakes ($11), swirled with sticky cinnamon sugar, embedded with crispy bacon, and drizzled with a maple glaze. I usually prefer savory breakfasts, but I couldn't say no to something stuffed with bacon. Despite the unwelcome sugar high, it was a glorious morning dessert, and highly recommended to anyone with the palate of a child. And for those with the palate of a fucking monster, you might try "THE BEAST" ($13): fried chicken, bacon, a fried egg, and cheese between buttermilk biscuits halves and drowned in sausage gravy. We were not so brave, though we might be with a stronger hangover.
Spoons' well-priced cocktail menu departs from the typical breakfast booze lineup (which, unfortunately, means no Bloody Marys—instead they have a sake-based savory drink called the Bloody Geisha—however they do serve mimosas). The Pear Spice Bellini ($4 for a glass, $17 for a carafe) smelled like a cookie-scented Yankee candle, but tasted significantly better—bright Prosecco with heavy notes of cinnamon and nutmeg, gently sweetened with pear juice—a drinkable slice of pie. My friend got the Chai Chada-tini ($7)—a cocktail of RumChata, cold milk, and house-made chai served in a large martini glass and dusted with spices—and noted the similarity to leftover milk in a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Trying it myself, I didn't find this assessment far off. Since it hardly tasted like booze, it would probably benefit from being served with steamed milk instead of cold, more like a lightly spiked chai latte than a cereal-tinged pretend martini. The coffee ($2.65) is full-bodied and bottomless, and they have a full menu of all the espresso staples and then some, so you're all set if you prefer the caffeinated hangover remedy over more booze. I always go with both, just to be safe.