Thanks a brunch

Diners can add cheese sauce to the home fries on dishes like the country fried steak and eggs breakfast at Jack’s Coffee Shop.

Diners can add cheese sauce to the home fries on dishes like the country fried steak and eggs breakfast at Jack’s Coffee Shop.

PHOTO/ALLISON YOUNG

Jack’s Coffee Shop is open Monday through Saturday, 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Sunday, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Reno has become a nexus of brunch, with plenty of folks who apparently have time for that on a weekday morning. Most new entries in this category are family-owned establishments, and the new Jack’s Coffee Shop in Reno is carrying on a tradition that began in 1980s Sparks—taking over a chain location and turning it into a local favorite.

The service was quick and friendly. Despite the busy weekend traffic, it didn’t take long to place our order or receive the food. Most of our group went with breakfast items, beginning with Jack’s old fashioned smoked country bacon with cheese breakfast ($10.99). The bacon was broad strips of pork belly with more meat than typical American crispy bacon, somewhat akin to English bacon—different and delicious. This was served with two eggs and a pile of crispy home fries drenched in a creamy cheddar cheese sauce. Our fellow diner substituted fried scones for an extra dollar. I’m glad she did because these scones reminded me of home. While English scones are dry, baked and crumbly, these were akin to the “Utah scone” of my childhood. Somewhere between Indian fry bread and Mexican sopapilla, they are light, puffy and wonderful.

Next was a classic country fried steak and eggs, with home fries and choice of toast, English muffin or biscuit ($10.99). We added cheese sauce to the fries for a buck and didn’t regret it. The steak was average, uniform and probably a purchased-frozen product; a knife was required to cut it. The gravy was also just so-so, with not a lot of seasoning or sausage. There are better examples of this dish in town, but it wasn’t bad.

Shaking up breakfast a bit was a Buffalo chicken salad with chicken breast strips tossed in hot wing sauce, pico de gallo, tomato wedges, thick-sliced cucumber, a full, sliced boiled egg, blue cheese crumbles, a pile of crispy tortilla strips, and grated cheddar and jack cheeses ($9.99). The chicken was tender and the lettuce was dressed in a light vinaigrette. At first, I thought it was a pretty great salad, but, after a while, the abundance of cheese became overwhelming. I. Love. Cheese. But this much raw cheese in a salad just kills every other flavor. Halfway in, it seemed a plate of cheese was being lightly seasoned by a touch of salad.

An order of eggs benedict with homefries and toast ($9.99) was pretty much an American diner classic. The eggs were poached just fine. The home fries were crispy, and the toast was toast. The Hollandaise lacked any lemon zing, making me wonder if it came from a can rather than a chef’s patience. Still, the diner who ordered it was perfectly happy with his meal, and I had to agree that it was acceptable, if average.

My wife upturned things a bit by ordering the Ultimate Omelette ($10.99). It’s normally stuffed with bacon and sausage, but she substituted avocado for the meat. There was plenty of the green stuff inside and on top of the fluffy egg pillow. And grilled onion, mushroom, tomato, bell pepper and cheddar cheese were tucked inside. She added a side of pico de gallo, and the end result was a flavor bomb. Apparently, my wife is a breakfast genius, and she thoroughly enjoyed her meal.