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Unfortunately, most of his customers seem to prefer slightly overcooked eggs (but obviously not the runny scrambled folks). Similarly, when patrons complained that the chorizo he was using in his Ranchero omelet and Despierto burrito was "too spicy," Johnson started using a more mildly seasoned chorizo (too mild, if you ask me). But he needs to cast a cold eye at any Kansas City egghead who prefers eating rubbery oeufs to a decently prepared soft omelet.
The place is packed on the weekends, but the wait's not terribly long, and I thumbed through the newspaper one Sunday until a table opened and a friend and I were seated in the second dining room, dominated by a long shiny communal table. Five sight-impaired customers were sitting there that morning, and I watched an extraordinary young waitress tend to this group with humor and patience, sitting down with them to read the menu from cover to cover. They adored her, and I did, too.
My breakfast pizza evoked more complicated feelings. Bubbling Monterey Jack cheese blanketed a crust covered with scrambled eggs, diced green peppers and tomato, red onions and sausage gravy. It's more of a novelty than a morning meal, but I was intrigued by the flaky crust, which I assumed had been made from biscuit dough. Johnson later told me that it's a cornmeal-based, deep-dish, Chicago-style pizza dough. I devoured every slice even as it reminded me of a freezer-case product that I'd once defrosted and baked in my toaster oven.
I prefer the less-frenzied weekday mornings at Eggtc. It's mellow enough that Bob, Carol Ann, Ned and I strolled in one Monday at about 8 a.m. and nabbed the best table in the sunny, saffron-colored front dining room, which still boasts the original terrazzo floors from the 1920s (when this space was occupied by a little grocery store). Now there's a long counter for solo diners, and daily specials are written on a blackboard which customers should read carefully, because even the best waitresses don't always remember to tell diners about them.
Ned, who's a grump until he gets his first cup of coffee, snorted at one of Johnson's decorative details: Each table is dolled up with a china cup filled with coffee beans and a spray of fabric flowers. "Straight out of granny's garage sale," he said, rolling his eyes. But the robust brew roused him, and soon he was regaling us with the hilarious romantic tribulations of a mutual friend. Still, Ned grumbled about his Cobb omelet, saying it was "as dry as the Sahara" and needed more avocado.
I wasn't sure what a Despierto burrito would be, but despierto is wake up in Spanish and I was pleased by a fat tortilla packed with unrunny scrambled eggs, cheddar, onion and that unspicy chorizo. In fact, Carol Ann loved my breakfast, though she was less enamored with the one she ordered. Her Crepes Cena was a trio of papery-thin crepes wrapped around a rather unimpressive spinach soufflé (once again, it's that fluff problem) and draped in a "spiced Hollandaise" that was more peppery than spicy.
Bob is one of those patrons who has eccentric demands, but they're not unreasonable. He likes Eggtc.'s fresh fruit compote a jumble of purple grapes, blueberries, strawberries and cantaloupe but insists that it be topped with yogurt mixed with honey. It's a request that can throw off an inflexible waitress, but here he usually gets his way. And he always orders the same main course, a perfectly prepared eggs Benedict made with smoked ham and a velvety Hollandaise.