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I've eaten two breakfasts and three lunches at Genessee Royale since it opened in early December, and I loved every meal. And two breakfasts and three lunches are a lot of meals at this restaurant, where the menu isn't what you might call vast. Instead, it's appealingly succinct, a collection of dishes suited to a dining room that's as tidy and compact as a doctor's waiting room — only a lot more lovable.
But what's not to love about a gorgeously light Monte Cristo sandwich made with salty cured ham, slices of milk-braised turkey, a slice of Grùyere and a side of strawberry jam? Or a truly excellent burger, wedged between slices of a Wolferman's English muffin, that's so juicy, it's hard to eat without making a mess?
The coffee is terrific here, too, a cure for the bleary-eyed and the morning-dizzy and the just plain cold who return to life only after a mug of java. Even more life-affirming is smelling that coffee alongside the intoxicating aroma of crispy deep-fried potatoes on the Farmer's Plate. This isn't a prissy urban breakfast concept but a reassuring answer to a farmer's appetite, with slices of excellent hickory-smoked bacon (you can order ham or sausage instead) served with eggs (mine were scrambled and perfectly cooked), a roasted tomato and a heaping mess of spuds.
After that, I needed something sweet, so I went back for the $4 coffeecake. Yeah, I know, the price sounds a little steep. But what you get is an individual loaf of old-fashioned sour-cream breakfast cake (I'd swear it's from an old Good Housekeeping recipe), served warm with butter. Skip the dry toast — the only weak component of the Farmer's Plate — and save room for this instead.
The egg-and-cheese sandwich, an upscale variation on the McMuffin idea, is served on a Wolferman's muffin. It's a staple of both the breakfast and the lunch menus. It's also beloved by vegetarians, who opt not to order it with bacon or sausage. (Me? I wanted it with both.)
Crystal, a vegetarian, didn't want to give up a side dish just to keep kosher, so she went for the Farmer's Market Vegetable Tartine. That dish sounds a good deal more glamorous than it is. But she adored it: an open-faced sandwich that plops roasted vegetables on a slice of garlic-rubbed, toasted Farm to Market bread. On that day, the vegetables were Brussels spouts, glazed onions and slices of bright-orange butternut squash. Crystal asked me to sample it, but I demurred. I love open-faced sandwiches, even vegetable versions, but only if they're bubbling with melted cheese or something equally decadent. The tartine just looked too healthy for me.
Crystal ate her sandwich daintily, with knife and fork. I blew past her, wolfing my burger down along with a bowl of the soup du jour, a cream-of-cauliflower concoction that was so flavorful, I couldn't believe it hadn't been prepared with chicken stock. The server insisted that the base was vegetable stock, but I suspected fowl play; Schulte later confirmed that the slightly grainy, gloriously rich soup had indeed been prepared with chicken stock.