The Italians call it a frittata and the Spanish refer to it as a tortilla, but most of us are much quicker to recognize this fluffy egg creation by its French moniker: the omelette.
The omelette is an extremely versatile canvas for the adventurous cook to work with, as it invites just about any combination of ingredients available. I still recall my father reminiscing about a breakfast place from his college days that offered a peanut butter and jelly omelette.
While no surrealist omelettes were reviewed in this Chowdown Showdown, I am happy to report that our cozy section of the Southland offers some exceptional choices.
Blueberry Hill (Homewood)
Taken straight from one of our Facebook suggestions, I began my omelette quest with the seafood omelette at Blueberry Hill Pancake House. It’s a hollandaise sauce-topped mixture of shrimp, crab meat, green peppers, tomato and, of course, egg.
The texture of the shrimp and crabmeat was excellent. The green peppers added a crunchy contrast—although slightly abrupt—to the texture, and the sparse tomatoes offered tiny bursts of brightness. As for the egg, it seemed to be cooked to good quality, but it was saturated with so many ingredients that it was easily overshadowed. This is good for those who are into getting a loaded dish, but bad for those who desire balance.
I was thrilled to see hollandaise sauce covering the mound of egg, seafood and veggies, but the sauce was a bit flat—a problem that could be solved with more acidity (more lemon juice would do the trick). In fact, the entire omelette, while very good, was a bit flat. A slight addition of brightness, whether through extra salt or acidity would have significantly improved the quality of this dish. If you don't agree, pay attention to how pleasant the few tomato bites are compared to the rest. That said, this was a delicious omelette and I was very pleased with the creativity and its successful combination of flavors.
Skyline Restaurant (Chicago Heights)
Skyline's "Skyline Omelette" is the most popular omelette at the restaurant, according to the hostess. With feta, bacon, spinach and tomatoes, this omelette was a bit more traditional, with one exception: Like the omelette at Blueberry Hill, it was smothered in hollandaise sauce (I'm nodding and grinning right now).
While Skyline's hollandaise also lacked a bit of acidity, it maintained a much smoother emulsion than Blueberry Hill's. Combined with the saltiness of the feta and bacon, the acidity of the stewed tomatoes and the wilted spinach, Skyline's hollandaise achieved a wonderful balance of complementary flavor. Best yet, though, was the quality of the fluffy eggs. All ingredients worked magically together.
The Egg and I (Chicago Heights)
Unlike the other two, the Egg and I’s recommended "Meat Lovers" omelette, sadly, does not come with hollandaise sauce. What it does come with is ham, bacon, sausage, onions and cheddar cheese. Despite going into this last omelette doubtful that anything without hollandaise could stand its ground against anything with hollandaise, I was blown away by the flavor and quality of this omelette. The Egg and I skillfully produced the fluffiest omelette of the three. It was perfectly moist and the melted cheddar cheese inside was an ideal compliment to the variety of salty and savory meats suspended in the egg. The meats didn't seem redundant while I was eating it. I can't even say there is a good reason why this omelette was so good, but I can't deny the fact that it was.
The winner: The Egg and I
This was one of the toughest verdicts I've had to make so far. All three omelets were a delight to eat and all three deserve a great amount of credit. When it came down to a decision, however, the Egg and I created the best egg dish with the most complementary ingredients. Anything could taste good if your smothered it in hollandaise sauce (one of the greatest inventions known to humanity), but the Egg and I's omelette stood its ground without this crutch and it still amazed me with its flavor. They didn't even need to break out the “PB & J.”
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