Coming home

Breakfast (and lunch) from scratch at The Roost

Heidi Larsen serves up biscuits and gravy and huevos rancheros.

Heidi Larsen serves up biscuits and gravy and huevos rancheros.

Photo By matt siracusa

1144 Park Ave. 892-1281, Hours: Mon.-Fri., 6 a.m.-1:30 p.m.; Sat., 7a.m.-1:30 p.m.; Sun., 8 a.m.-1 p.m.

The Roost Cafe

1144 Park Ave.
Chico, CA 95928

(530) 892-1281

My first time at The Roost Café was the first time I’ve ever slightly wished I was hung over. One look at the hearty breakfast menu and it makes sense.

I went during Sunday brunch. My parents and I maneuvered the funky parking lot and stepped onto the outdoor patio, wondering which door to enter.

A diner equipped with bar stools and a horseshoe-shaped counter was to the left, and a quaint room packed with rooster paraphernalia and sit-down tables hummed with people to the right. I peeked into the diner and told the blonde, smiling woman behind the register we needed a table. She disappeared into the sizzling kitchen and reappeared, ready to seat us.

In addition to the specialties (corned beef hash, scrambles, etc.), omelets and traditional griddle items, the large brunch menu included the eggs benedict variations I’d heard so much about—traditional, veggie, ham and avocado, bacon with avocado and tomato, and the Irish (with corned beef hash).

I ordered a veggie benedict, which came with spinach and tomato, and home fries on the side for $9.99. Dad got a Californian omelet (bacon, artichoke, mushroom, tomato, green onion, cheese and sour cream) for $9.99, and my vegetarian step mom ordered the Santa Fe omelet (ham, chiles, pepper-jack cheese, green onion and sour cream) as a scramble without the ham for $9.50. My boyfriend ordered the BAT benedict (bacon, avocado and tomato) for $10.99.

Our food arrived quickly despite the restaurant being busy. I first noticed the creamy, butter-colored Hollandaise sauce coating my benedict. It wasn’t too runny and balanced its richness with a light texture. My eggs were thin and the yolks well-cooked, and the English muffin was crisp. I liked the generous pile of spinach beneath my eggs—it tasted fresh, not limp and frozen. My home fries were full of savory spices, but I was a little preoccupied with the benedict.

My parents especially liked the hash browns—a large, pan-fried patty of freshly shredded potatoes, crisp and brown on the outside and soft and steamy on the inside.

My boyfriend loved his BAT benedict with thick, juicy bacon.

I returned the next Monday morning to find benedicts and weekend specials on a separate menu. The waitress, the same jovial blonde who’d seated me the day before, said the restaurant recently started serving benedicts seven days a week. For years prior, they’ve been weekend-only specials that made visitors pack the restaurant to the brim.

“People come from miles around,” she said, referring to their homemade Hollandaise with a little twang in her voice.

My girlfriends and I ordered an Irish benedict (corned beef hash) for $10.99, a Roost omelet (linguica, avocado, salsa, green onion, cheese and sour cream) for $9.99, and a full side of biscuits and gravy for $5.75.

The Irish benedict was distinct, and the flavorful meat was cut thin. The biscuits and gravy were good, but average compared to The Roost omelet. We used forks to spread the avocado, sour cream and salsa across the omelet before diving in. Garlic, oregano and pepper spiced it up—very memorable.

We washed it down with a refreshing strawberry-flavored Nathan’s Roost Juice (Sprite, Torani flavor of your choice, lemon) for $2.85.

I also gave the lunch menu a shot (though breakfast is clearly what The Roost is known for), and took home a smoked-chicken Caesar sandwich (provolone, parmesan, romaine and sun-dried tomatoes tossed in dressing) with potato salad for $9.99. Hours later, I chomped into it and it tasted like a creamy Caesar salad piled inside toasty bread. It was good, but a little heavy for lunch time.

The side of potato salad, however, tasted like egg salad with a few potato chunks added and was a little disappointing.

The Roost’s farm-inspired atmosphere (with ubiquitous rooster theme), personable, “hey-darlin’” service and promise of “real food, real butter, real good home cooking” make it an ideal place to satisfy a big appetite, but make sure you get there early—breakfasts can be crowded and the restaurant is closed by 1:30 p.m. (1 p.m. on Sundays).