Uncle Louis’ Café offers hearty breakfast with a hint of GreeceDuluth diner serves up Greek omelet, fluffy pancakes
By Tom Wilkowske
University professor Bob Evans has literally traveled the globe and found some of his best breakfasts right in his own neighborhood — at Uncle Louis’ Cafe.
Evans likes the classic breakfast diner in Duluth’s Central Hillside neighborhood precisely because some of its dishes have an international flavor. One example is the Greek omelet, complete with gyros meat and feta cheese.
BOB’S BEST BREAKFAST
Evans and his wife, Mary, like Uncle Louis’ enough to bring their grown children and grandchildren there for breakfast when they’re in Duluth. Evans likes to cook but finds it tricky to make a good breakfast at home.
“I think breakfasts are just hell to make,” he said right after we placed our orders (the omelet comes with your choice of potato, toast and a Greek pancake). “It’s just hard to get everything done at the same time.”
When our orders arrived, Evans dug into his hash browns, raved about their crispiness and wondered aloud about whether an extra-hot grill is the key to a great breakfast.
“Maybe that’s the secret of the pancakes and the hash browns,” he said. “When I try to make pancakes I’ve never gotten a light batter like this.”
Evans also explained why he likes the omelet. “I think Greek food is wonderful,” he said, lamenting the loss of other Greek dining establishments in the Twin Ports. “I like lamb and I like feta for its pungent flavor.”
The Uncle Louis’ Greek omelet is a true American melting pot: a French wrapper with Greek fillings served in super-sized American proportions. The omelet was nicely browned in spots yet not overly cooked and rubbery; the filling was heady gyros meat all stuck together with tangy, salty feta and just a scattering of onion.
I sampled some of Evan’s hash browns, which were as crispy crunchy as he described. I ordered “American” fries — fried potato chunks — which were a tad underdone to my taste.
The pancake was light and fluffy in the middle but had a hint of crispiness on the outside. It had a certain sweet spice that was difficult to place — something that might be in doughnuts or pumpkin pie, but not nutmeg. Mace, perhaps.
I’m not saying it was an authentic Greek breakfast, which would be a pastry and coffee. I’m just saying it was good.
The portions were generous enough that I could have easily split them with another diner: not bad for a $6.25 meal. I made a valiant effort to finish everything, but ran out of gas.
ABOUT THE DISH, RESTAURANT
Uncle Louis’ is owned and run by Penny Briddell, according to Briddell’s sister Gloria James, who waits tables. The restaurant is named for a family member, but there’s no Greek heritage in the family line, she said.
Jennifer Alexander, one of the cooks, said the Greek omelet is just how it sounds: an omelet filled with standard gyros ingredients. It has gyros meat (a seasoned blend of beef and lamb), feta cheese and diced “Greek onion,” which is a sweet onion garnished in parsley.
As for the pancakes, Briddell mixes up large batches of the batter herself with a recipe only she knows. Briddell took over the former Jock’s Hamburgers space on Fourth Street about 10 years ago.
This review was originally published April 21, 2005.
Reach Tom Wilkowske at firstname.lastname@example.org.