Restaurante Yesenia was my favorite local place for Salvadoran pupusas revuelta, a sort of thick corn flour patty stuffed with pork and cheese. They were larger, crispier and better stuffed than most. I felt some dismay when I heard they'd converted to an American-style brunch diner, but there's still a small “secret” menu reflecting the past. My crew was in for breakfast, but I'll admit a twinge of regret when I saw another diner digging into a big, cheesy bit of yum accompanied by pickled cabbage and tomato sauce. Next time.
Along with the new name comes a new menu, and it's very American—pancakes, waffles, breakfast skillets, omelets, eggs any style, burgers, sandwiches, salads, chicken wings, steaks. We ordered coffee while making our selections. It was pre-ground “diner standard” java—not terrible, but not great. Service was super friendly, and we didn't go lacking for refills of the brown stuff, such as it was.
A full breakfast order of french toast with syrup and whipped cream ($9.49) came with two eggs, hash browns and bacon or sausage. We added fresh banana for $1.29. The battered bread was nicely browned, not too eggy and pretty much what you want from this classic. The eggs were a perfect over-medium. The hash browns were average but plentiful, and the pair of bacon strips were thin, crispy and uniformly straight. Picture perfect. It was a lot of food, requiring two plates.
Three cheese blintzes ($8.99) with peaches and whipped cream were next. Unlike the tucked and folded kosher treats, these were cheese-filled, rolled crepes topped with canned peaches and a light syrup I'm thinking came from the can the fruit was packed in. They were good, but instead of the traditional mix of ricotta and cream cheeses (or better, farmer's cheese) with egg and lemon zest or juice, the filling appeared to be cottage cheese and heavy cream. Again, the overall result was fine, but they wouldn't pass muster at a New York deli.
Probably best in show was a steak “Macho Man” cast-iron skillet ($11.99) loaded with strips of carne asada, home fries, onion, jalapeño, habanero, bell pepper and shredded cheese—topped by two eggs—with a gravy-laden biscuit on the side for good measure. The chunky potatoes were perfect, the meat tasty, and the whole thing was glued together with melted cheese in the way that ensures you'll get a bit of everything in every bite. If you have issues with hot stuff, skip the habanero; this bit of breakfast had some serious bite. The biscuit wasn't the fluffiest, and the country gravy lacked sausage or bacon compensated with plenty of black pepper and overall graviness.
A pair of chicken poblano crepes ($10.99) with mushroom, onion, poblano chile, Swiss cheese and hollandaise sauce were golden brown and a sizeable meal on their own. The chicken had obviously been pre-cooked then tossed back on the heat, but the smoky flavor and crispy bits were quite good. The chunks were a bit large and required being cut down, yet were tender enough to allow it. The chopped poblano added just a bit of vegetative heat, and the 'shrooms and onions were perfectly sautéed. The topping of spice-dusted hollandaise did its job, and we left fortified to seize the day.