If you go
› Where: Syrup and Eggs, 4501 St. Elmo Ave.
› Hours: 7 a.m.- 2 p.m. Friday, 8 a.m.-2 p.m Saturday-Sunday
› Prices: $1- $9.75
› Phone: 423-600-9595
› Online: www.facebook.com/SyrupandEggsTN
EDITOR'S NOTE: The Times Free Press continues its series of staff writers' choices for great breakfasts in the Scenic City.
Just down the road from St. Elmo's burgeoning commercial center anchored by the famous Incline Railway is my new favorite breakfast joint, Syrup and Eggs. It's a casual, inviting eatery boasting delicious brunch and breakfast offerings using fresh, intentionally sourced ingredients.
Located in the historic St. Elmo firehouse, the space oozes nostalgic charm and is tucked just far enough into the more residential part of the neighborhood to escape the surrounding hustle and bustle. It isn't big, but it has plenty of indoor and shaded outdoor seating, which I imagine will be delightful when it isn't 8,000 degrees out.
The place is casual and kid-friendly, so patrons will be at home whether they're post-workout sweaty in yoga pants or dressed to impress for brunch with friends. I went on a Friday morning, found street parking right in front and sat myself immediately. That said, I've heard from others there can be a wait on the weekends. If you find yourself at the end of a long line waiting for a table, you can peruse the Fire Hall Studios & Gallery, a collection of contemporary art located on the second floor.
Owned by former Terra Mae sous chef Ocia Hartley, Syrup and Eggs has a menu that is relatively small but bursting with creative, yet accessible, twists on early morning favorites such as breakfast sandwiches, egg dishes and, their specialty, pancakes. Additionally, weekly special stacks, quiches and salads complement the daily menu with hyper-seasonal ingredients sure to keep diners on their toes.
Hartley has a knack for fusing sweet and savory elements into her dishes, making for a fun, thoroughly modern and unexpected dining experience. The week's Special Stack featured sweet pea pancakes with smashed strawberries, whipped goat cheese and toasted pistachios, while the salad special was a combination of watermelon, mint, jalapenos, feta and vanilla salt.
The daily menu also includes options for those looking for something a little more traditional, like biscuits with mushroom thyme or sausage sage gravy, or a slice of Egg Pie (aka veggie quiche) with your choice of one of 11 mouthwatering side options.
As a staunch and passionate pancake devotee, I knew what I had to do. The "Ain't You a Southern Peach" pancakes featuring cardamon-scented cakes with sugared peaches, smoked chili pecans, fresh basil and ginger butter initially spoke to me, but I decided to throw caution to the wind and try the Blue Cornmeal "Taco" Pancakes.
It was the right decision. They were thick and fluffy like pancakes should be but with the savory nuttiness of a corn muffin, topped with a perfectly poached egg, thinly sliced pickled jalapenos, crema, cilantro and a maple pico for a hint of sweetness. The portion was significant but not over the top.
I couldn't quite finish it all, but I left full without feeling like I was on the edge of a food coma. Fresh orange juice and a couple of mugs of hot, locally brewed Mad Priest coffee washed everything down perfectly.
My server was attentive, friendly and knowledgeable without any of the tired hipster snobbery some other local breakfast joints still cling to. She also got bonus points in my book for patiently and gracefully answering several multilayered questions from a couple of overzealous tourists about the surrounding sights.
The friendly, laid-back atmosphere and colorful menu of delicious, well-thought-out dishes will make this breakfast spot a go-to in my household for years to come.
Contact Kate Brennan at email@example.com.