’Fast talk

Among the lunch fare at the Cup Cafe is the giant pastrami cheddar burger with onion rings.

Among the lunch fare at the Cup Cafe is the giant pastrami cheddar burger with onion rings.

PHOTO/ALLISON YOUNG

The Cup Café is open from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.

In a crowd I recently overheard the statement, “There’s no good breakfast in Reno.” What the what? If there’s a well-represented genre of food in the Biggest Little City, it’s breakfast and brunch. Maybe that person just doesn’t get out much. With that in mind, I happened upon a place that’s been around a long time and had three separate identities—yet each iteration has served some form of traditional American grub. The Cup Café is doing a respectable job breaking fasts with the best of ’em.

My crew headed in late on a Sunday morning, so the 45-minute wait seemed about right. We did not, however, have to wait long for food, so perhaps the delay was due to folks enjoying a fourth cup of coffee. The quality of this brew was worth savoring, and our mugs were frequently refilled—something that is never lost on me. Keep my coffee full, and I flip on a dime from Grumpy Gus to Mr. Sunshine.

My wife decided on a carb splurge with country style French toast ($9.59)—thick triangles of hearty bread rolled in oats, almonds and pecans, egg-wash-fried in the traditional style and topped with blueberry compote. She went all in, adding two eggs—over-medium—and a couple of strips of cherrywood-smoked bacon for an additional $3.99. Despite all the sweet goo, the toast wasn’t soggy or limp, and the bacon was thick-cut and nicely crisp. She chose well.

My most predictable breakfast buddy went with a traditional eggs Benedict ($11.59), featuring a grilled English muffin topped with two poached jumbo eggs, plenty of shaved honey ham, and what I have to say was a perfect hollandaise sauce. I make the stuff at home, and this was exactly as it should be—light, lemony, delicious. It was pretty much perfect, paired with a pile of nicely browned home-fried potatoes.

My wife’s friend ordered a platter of country biscuits and gravy ($11.99) that was so big it should have had its own zip code. Two seriously tall, fresh-baked buttermilk biscuits were split and smothered in country gravy, served with a couple of eggs, home fries and a pair of the fattest breakfast sausage links I’ve ever seen. The black pepper gravy was exceptional—not gluey or too thin—and made me wish I’d ordered differently.

But, alas, I chose lunch fare—a pastrami cheddar burger ($10.99). The half-pound patty of ground chuck Angus beef was topped with pastrami, cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, red onion, dill pickle chips and sauce on a better-than-average, pillowy, grilled bun. It looked beautiful on the plate—served with a kosher dill pickle spear and breaded onion rings for an extra $1.99. The rings were golden and crispy, but the burger was just OK, not quite on par with the breakfasts. The patty was cooked to a dried-out medium well. The pastrami was thin shaved and tasty, but there wasn’t much of it. The lettuce was limp—maybe having sat too long on the hot meat. The tomato was mushy, and the cheese was only partially melted. The sauce—seemingly a blend of mustard and mayo—was actually one of the best things about the sandwich. It wasn’t bad, but I wouldn’t order it again.

I’ve had similar experiences, so I think I’ll stick with breakfast dishes when dining at a place that is known for them. I still can’t believe I didn’t try the country fried steak. What was I thinking?