Local Ingredients & Timeless Charm | The Red Eye Cafe
The Red Eye Cafe sits in an inconspicuous building towards the end of Walnut Street in Montclair, NJ.
Their logo sticks to the front window (clever and simplistic). If you were driving down the street, it is easy to miss it.
My first time trying the Red Eye Cafe was after finals a few years ago for a late afternoon lunch.
It took us 20 minutes to get a table, which wasn’t surprising. The Red Eye has a small dining area, and during the busy afternoon, usually has a line out the door.
People also pop in from Montclair to grab a coffee and go about their day.
Parking, as it is anywhere in Montclair, is metered on the street. During a busy afternoon, I happened to park around the building, on Label Street. The spaces here were larger and easier to parallel park into.
Red Eye Cafe Menu
Since the last time I visited, the Red Eye Cafe has upgraded from pamphlet-style, paper menus, to laminate ones.
When I first went to Red Eye Cafe, I wasn't sure what to expect from their menu. They had a bunch of sandwiches to choose from.
I tried to order something unique, and ended up with a Banh Mi, which is something I remembered hearing throughout Chopped or Top Chef but never had before.
Highlander | $10
My above picture doesn't do it justice.
The Highlander was a different experience. I didn't think I was going to like the hard boiled egg fried in all of those flavors, but I did! The yolk was creamy, the veggies crunchy and vinegary. Red Eye's bread is to die for!
I will note, that the sriracha sauce was exactly as promised: hot. It did work well with the other sandwich flavors, so I appreciated its value. But I do remember drinking many glasses of water.
If you can't eat spicy foods without watery eyes and runny noses (me!), then this sandwich might not be for you.
We were too full from our sandwiches to think about having muffins or pastries from the coffee bar.
As per tradition, we did finish our meal with caramel lattes. I appreciate the art of a good cup of coffee, and these lattes were beyond perfect.
Red Eye Cafe | Brunch Adventures
Two weeks ago I took my sister to the Red Eye Cafe. I wanted to see if brunch was just as good as I remembered the Banh Mi sandwich to be.
I was worried that on a chilly, Saturday morning it would be a long wait for a table. Luckily, at 11:30am, we were right between the turnover to get one of the last two tables!
As we perused the menu, we ordered hot chocolate and a soy cappuccino.
I came to the Red Eye with the intention of ordering a breakfast dish (which is not always my favorite). I find it difficult to order a memorable dish and still feel full afterward. I was hoping The Red Eye's brunch would offer me something different.
What did I order?
Red Eye is known for using local ingredients so I wanted to have a dish that was more than just pancakes or waffles.
Frittata Sandwich | $8
As I write this post, I think my sandwich was missing a few ingredients which would've made this over-the-top. Yet what I did receive, was fresh and delicious.
Just like my last sandwich, the bread was to die for. The spinach was crisp and added an additional texture. The frittata was also light and fluffy. Having the chorizo and potatoes on the sandwich would've added the heartiness and rich flavor I was looking for.
My sandwich came with a side of apple-slaw, which is what caught my attention in the first place.
As foodies may know, pairing a rich dish with the bite from the apple-slaw is a great combination. Ironically, since this sandwich had harissa on it, the acidic apple-slaw was just what I needed to cool my palate.
Huevos Rancheros | Special
My sister ordered the huevos rancheros. This is something I normally wouldn't have thought about ordering. She let me try some and it was spectacular. The next time I go for breakfast this is what I'm going to get.
The tortilla on the bottom was hot and crunchy, with scrambled eggs, seasoned potatoes, beans and salsa. I have no idea what was in the container of sauce, but it was awesome. The two of us could've shared the dish, it was such a large portion!
In total, I think our meal was $25 with tip; not bad for a spot in Montclair!
Wait Until the Summer
What I hadn't realized when we entered Red Eye, was the little outdoor patio they had on the side of the building.
I adore this area: from the lights to the brick. I could imagine how busy this would be in the summer.
My sister and I had a mini photo-shoot since no one was outside. You can see all of her shots on her website.
The right-hand wall of the building has these lines for you to fill in. I wonder in the summer the kinds of words people write: children scribbling funny phrases, older couples glancing at one another before agreeing on a word.
I made my sister take this photo, and I thought about all the phrases I would write.
Before I die I want to start my own business
Before I die I want to write a memoir
Before I die I want to travel the world
I know...this food review just took a philosophical, existential nose-dive.
But really, what I typed over this image is what felt to be the truest to me:
Before I die I want to live.
Every time I get to write about what I love, I feel like I'm starting to achieve this.
So that's the story
What do you think? I plan to make The Red Eye a frequent spot on my restaurant list. I love their decor, and I can't wait to spend a summer afternoon on their little patio.
Have you been to The Red Eye Cafe before? Do you know about their locally-sourced menu? What would you write on the outdoor wall? Tell me about it in the comments!