Yalies are no strangers to fantastic brunch spots: students flock to the Pantry, Maison Mathis, Atticus and many other New Haven places each weekend to get their fix. Just outside of the Yale bubble, nestled in a strip mall in North Haven, sits a breakfast spot that can easily compete with New Haven’s best: the Breakfast Nook.

At first glance, there is nothing exceptional about the Breakfast Nook. It sits in a nondescript suburban strip mall next to a pizza joint. Yet, the second one walks in, they realize that the restaurant is special. There is a tangible buzz in the room as tables are filled mostly with locals, kicking back, enjoying a cup of coffee and indulging their guilty pleasures as they order massive stacks of pancakes. As usual, the locals know where the magic is. The Breakfast Nook's food is fantastic. 

When we went, we were disappointed that it was only two of us, as there was so much on the menu worth trying. From omelettes and eggs benedict to Mom’s Hash, there were countless savory dishes that we had our eyes on-- and the sweet plates all looked equally delicious; S'mores Pancakes, French Toast with caramelized pecans, and Belgian Waffles were some of the highlights. After a long discussion with our waitress, some profound deliberation, and some lamentation that no one else had come to join us so we could order more, we decided on three dishes representing different parts of the menu.

Savory: California Benedict

Bella Halley

For our egg dish, we ordered the California Benedict (one of our favorite egg dishes at the Pantry, used for direct comparison). The Benedict consisted of two poached eggs on an English muffin topped with avocado, bacon and a healthy serving of hollandaise sauce.

The eggs were cooked to perfection and the yolk perfectly seeped into the English muffin. The bacon was crisp and well-seasoned and added a great crunchy texture to the dish. The highlight, however, was the hollandaise sauce. Often times eggs Benedict can be overwhelmed by the hollandaise sauce if it’s too creamy or not flavorful, however, this hollandaise sauce enhanced the dish tremendously and was not too heavy. The breakfast potatoes, originally an afterthought, were equally impressive.

Sweet #1: S'mores Pancakes

Bella Halley

The tough part about ordering decadent pancakes is that they usually taste way too sweet, giving you a sugar overdose after only a few bites. The Breakfast Nook, though, managed to create delicious (and massive) creative pancakes that we ate way beyond a few bites. These beauties consisted of chocolate chip pancakes packed with graham cracker crumbs and warm marshmallows to resemble everyone’s favorite campfire treat. They were topped with chocolate sauce, whipped cream, and more graham cracker.

Aside from looking incredible, they tasted amazing, too. The pancakes were fluffy, and the flavors balanced each other well. There weren’t too many marshmallows, and the graham crackers were a nice touch, adding dimension to ordinary chocolate chip pancakes. Although we love The Pantry’s iconic cinnamon roll pancakes, these s’mores pancakes are certainly tied for first place in our minds.

Sweet #2: Belgian Waffle with Fresh Fruit Compote

Bella Halley

For our second sweet dish, we decided to try one of the Belgian waffles. Our waffle came out with a nice golden color, garnished with a dollop of whipped cream, powdered sugar and fresh fruit. It was crisp, yet tender—like any good waffle should be.

While the waffle itself was a little plain, the assorted fresh fruit on top was a nice addition to sweeten and add flavor the dish. Although lighter and simpler than expected, this was a tasty dish that balanced out the strong flavors of the eggs Benedict and pancakes. 

The Verdict:

We were thoroughly impressed with our experience at the Breakfast Nook. Each of the three items we ordered well exceeded our expectations and had us cleaning our plates despite feeling stuffed. There were many other dishes that we had wanted to try on the extensive-- even exhaustive-- menu, but didn’t have the appetite for (the most popular dishes are the Cinnamon Bun French Toast and the Garden Grove Omelette).

We will definitely be returning to try more. Even though the Breakfast Nook is a bit of a trek from New Haven, it is definitely worth the trip.