Baltimore has become a bonanza of breakfast places — with newcomers like Home Maid and Iron Rooster making their mark. But meanwhile, the scene's stalwarts are still going strong.
One longtimer, Blue Moon Cafe in Fells Point, is getting ready to celebrate its 20th anniversary in August. Yet the restaurant, known for its colorful Captain Crunch French toast, isn't resting on its laurels.
It opened a Federal Hill location, Blue Moon Too, in September.*
"It was time," says owner Sarah Simington. "Federal Hill is an interesting neighborhood."
The new Blue Moon features the same menu items as the original. In the coming months, Simington plans to offer more lunch choices to attract the neighborhood's noontime crowd and to extend the hours into the late evening as she does in Fells Point.
Like the restaurant on Aliceanna Street, you can expect to wait for a table during peak hours — even though Blue Moon Too is larger, with up to 99 seats compared to 35 in Fells Point. No one seems to mind, though — the anticipation of a breakfast treat is well worth it.
Stepping through the door, you're greeted by a fun atmosphere, though the room is as noisy as a freight train, according to our phone app that measures sound decibels. The decor is whimsical and Goth, with a dark blue wall bursting with stars offset by bold stripes across a nearby ceiling.
Chandeliers of various styles and sizes add a dramatic effect. You almost expect Morticia and Gomez of "The Addams Family" to greet you.
Simington credits the look to her imagination. "It has a gallery feel," she says. "It's very textural."
The food is as creative as the surroundings and, from what we had, delicious. You can bring your own liquor for mimosas or bloody Marys.
Simington isn't going to wait another 20 years for her next restaurant. Look for a third Blue Moon next year, probably in Washington.
"We're urban," she says. "We need a place with lots of art, music and booze."
Scene & decor: You feel like you've stepped onto the set of a Tim Burton movie, only the stagehands are well-dressed millennials. The focal wall at the breakfast cafe is moody with deep blue hues, black tree stumps, shiny stars, and drawings for sale of Edward Scissorhands and other characters. But the ambience isn't scary. It's cheerful, bustling and loud as customers wait for tables, sit at a six-seat counter, or settle into the dining area's mismatched tables and chairs.
Appetizers: Everything is cooked to order at Blue Moon and takes some time, so ordering breakfast appetizers isn't as weird as it may seem. The fresh fruit cup ($6.95) — presented on a plate — was a beautiful mix of ripe strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, a wedge of pineapple and banana slices. The homemade cinnamon roll ($5.25), measuring almost 3 inches high, was a pleasantly indulgent start to the morning.
Entrees: The Frito pie French toast ($12.95) is a towering monster of a dish. It's more than a showstopper. The three-stack homage to the popular Southwestern dish is delicious, served with corn chips, salsa, black beans and cheese. The crab and pig Benedict ($17.95) is a great interpretation of the breakfast specialty, even if the two eggs were cooked just past the usual poached style. The two English muffins were smothered in bacon strips and jumbo lump crab and accompanied by hash browns that were crispy on the outside but creamy and soft inside.
Drinks: Wake up to the day with Zeke's Coffee ($3 including refills), fruit juices, chocolate milk and espresso bar specialties. The restaurant is BYOB with no corkage fee.
Service: Our waitress was one of the most chipper servers we've come across. But she matched her cheerleader personality with excellent wait-staff skills.
Dessert: Not applicable.