Syrup and Eggs, a breakfast and brunch spot located at the historic St. Elmo fire hall, is tantalizing the taste buds of Chattanooga's early morning eaters. Serving fresh and always changing pancake recipes, experienced chef and owner Ocia Hartley hopes to continue to grow the new restaurant.
The restaurant offers three styles of pancakes: sweet, savory and surprise. The savory, a blue cornmeal pancake served with maple pico de gallo, a poached egg, cilantro, pickled jalapenos and homemade crema, comes from a cornbread recipe Hartley altered into a pancake version. It comes with the option for chorizo or carnitas.
The sweet pancake changes monthly; the "surprise stack," every day.
The daily selection has included concoctions such as chocolate covered cherry; bacon, green onion and tomato, which Hartley says reminds her of a twice-baked potato; carrot cake; Oreo; oatmeal raisin; and Key lime pie. Since she opened Syrup and Eggs roughly two months ago, she has not once repeated a surprise stack recipe, she said.
Born and raised in Oregon, Hartley has worked in the fine dining industry for 15 years, even serving as a chef in Alaska for a short time before moving to Chattanooga and becoming the sous chef at Terra Mae. After working there for two years, she decided to go out on a limb.
"I quit my job, I saved a bunch of money and I started working toward Syrup and Eggs. I did a lot of it by myself," she said.
She began early this year by hosting pancake pop-ups across town. As her popularity grew, she decided to open an official location at the fire hall.
"That's what I wanted," she said of the brick-and-mortar location. "I wanted people to be able to find me. I wanted a place where the neighborhood knew where I was going to be."
The restaurant is open only on the weekends, as Hartley is still gauging the demand.
"This is really me testing the market," she said, adding, "I'm still learning a lot about what exactly it is itself."
Hartley wants eating at Syrup and Eggs to be a personal experience; everything is handmade by her and the six other people on her staff, she said. Each pancake, served thick, is meant to be enjoyed on its own.
"Good pancakes take time," said Hartley.
Gluten, nut and other allergies can be taken into consideration, and on Fridays, the surprise stack is a vegan-friendly recipe.
"I hope to continue to be able to be part of the St. Elmo community for a long time and be supported by everybody in Chattanooga," Hartley said. "It's hard to say how it will be in the future, but I know that I've considered what it would be like to be open another day, to maybe expand my hours, if there's a need for it."
She also hopes to one day serve beer and run the fire hall as an event space, hosting one or two small events a month.
Syrup and Eggs is located at 4501 St Elmo Ave. and is open Fridays from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information or to contact the restaurant for catering options, visit facebook.com/SyrupandEggsTN.