Here are two incontrovertible truths about the omelette. All the best omelettes of my life were made by French chefs. (Gerard Crozier, Daniel Bonnot, and an old chef who used to work at Arnaud’s were the exemplars.) Their omelettes were fluffy and light without being either dry or runny. They were not scorched anywhere, but perfectly uniform light yellow. Unfortunately, at this time no French chefs of the caliber I’m talking about are currently making omelettes.
The guys who make omelettes for the big breakfast rooms in major casinos come a close second to the French guys. (I’ve heard it said that casino breakfast chefs have the most finely-developed motor skills for cooking in the entire world.) Once again, we’re at a loss for this in New Orleans, where the eateries in casinos generate almost zero enthusiasm.
Omelettes seem to be easy. They aren’t. You have to have the right heat, the right pan, and the right moves to make the eggs inflate as they should. There’s a perfect amount and kind of fillings. The amount of butter or oil must be just so. I can’t claim to be able to cook an omelette as well as I would like it.
These twelve restaurants inspire me to order omelettes now and then. They are mostly distinguished by the quality and imaginativeness of their filling, but all of them start by getting the egg part right. If not perfect.
1. Mattina Bella. Covington: 421 E Gibson. 985-892-0708. Second only to Brennan’s, Mattina Bella is the finest maker of polished eggs dishes around. They will deliver exactly the kind of omelette you like, as my wife and I prove frequently. In contrast to the light, unscorched omelettes I prefer, she likes them crispy and scorched, with every meat in the house inside. We are always both happy. The omelette with crabmeat or crawfish and mushrooms is beyond belief.
2. Peppermill. Metairie 2: Orleans Line To Houma Blvd: 3524 Severn Ave. 504-455-2266. Breakfast at the Peppermill is the restaurant’s most popular meal. They have their omelettes down, with versions both familiar and exotic. Among the latter is my favorite, the Sausalito (spinach, mushrooms, and garlic).
3. Coffee Pot. French Quarter: 714 St Peter. 504-524-3500. The Coffee Pot invented the red bean omelette, which is much better than it sounds. Just beans–no rice–with a bit of cheese and a well-made egg envelope. I ask for a little ham or sausage in there, too.
4. Cafe Adelaide. CBD: 300 Poydras St. 504-595-3305. The best hotel breakfast in New Orleans is at Cafe Adelaide in the Loew’s Hotel on Poydras Street. The restaurant is owned by the Commander’s Palace branch of the Brennan family. Which knows a few things about eggs. Big, light, beautiful omelettes with classy fillings. (Crabmeat, anyone?)
5. Gott Gourmet Cafe. Uptown 2: Washington To Napoleon: 3100 Magazine. 504-373-6579. Gott gets creative throughout its menu, and the omelettes on the breakfast menu is a good example of this. I like the one that comes from using the ingredients in their St Paddy’s Day breakfast (corned beef potato hash, chaurice, jalapeno, cheddar, peppers) in an omelette.
6. Ruby Slipper Cafe. Mid-City: 139 S Cortez. 504-309-5531. ||CBD: 200 Magazine St. 504-525-9355. ||Marigny: 2001 Burgundy St. 504-525-9355. The three locations of the Ruby Slipper constitute a new, excellent force on the breakfast scene. Each place has its own specialties, but all omelettes have been deftly turned out. I like the Florentine, with portobello mushrooms, spinach, mozzarella and fresh thyme (!).
7. Courtyard Cafe. Covington: 101 Northpark Blvd. 504-871-0244. The small buffet at the Covington Marriott Courtyard Hotel has a lady named Gloria in the kitchen. Gloria makes the best basic ham-and-cheese omelette in these parts.
8. Blue Plate Cafe. Uptown 1: Garden District & Environs: 1330 Prytania. 504-309-9500. The Southshore omelette (I have no explanation for the name, which ought to be “Southwest”) includes chili, corn, cilantro, onions, cheese, black beans. Looks great, tastes even better.
9. Li’l Dizzy’s Cafe. Esplanade Ridge: 1500 Esplanade Ave. 504-569-8997. Wayne Baquet is the restaurant king of Treme. Everybody comes in for breakfast. His unique creation is his jambalaya omelette. Everything you’d put in jambalaya except the rice, in a well-made omelette. Spicy and memorable.
10. Thanh Thanh. Gretna: 131 Huey P Long Ave. 504-368-8678. At lunch and dinner this is a Vietnamese restaurant. But its proximity to the Gretna Courthouse brings a good breakfast crowd. I like the Greek omelette (spinach, feta, and asparagus), but they do all the eggs well.
11. Mother’s. CBD: 401 Poydras. 504-523-9656. Mother’s has always made fine breakfasts. It has a signature omelette, named for a longtime cook named Mae. It includes black ham (the crust from the glaze after it bakes for a few hours), green onions, and mushrooms. It’s inimitable, because nobody else has black ham (except my house on the day after Thanksgiving).
12. Tiffin Inn. Metairie 3: Houma Blvd To Kenner Line: 6601 Veterans Blvd. 504-888-6602. This worn-out old pancake specialist belies its appearances with the goodness of its breakfast cookery. The omelettes are fat and well-filled, with the only big problem being the presence of a little too much oil on a pan that’s a little too hot.