Located smack dab in the middle of Columbia City on Rainier Avenue, Geraldine’s is easy to find. Since I was coming for the famous french toast, and it’s only upon threat of mutilation will I dine in public before noon, it’s a good thing that Geraldine serves breakfast all day. Seriously, every decent breakfast joint in this town will have a wait list if you arrive after opening, and the only way to avoid that is to wait before opening, and really, that’s beyond inconceivable to me. Geraldine obviously understands that sometimes a girl needs to get her breakfast on after hours.
We arrived around two’ish and still had to wait. Still! Breakfast hounds, I tell you. After a few minutes, we spotted some empty stools at the counter and decided we were too hungry to wait for a window seat (yes, I sacrificed good light just this one time, I’m selfish like that sometimes). It was cozy at the counter and the workers there chatted freely as well as the countermates. Good food tends to loosen tongues, I’ve learned.
Our countermate’s Emerald City scramble ($9.75) was a hot mess of pork sausage, hash browns, spinach, bell peppers, onions, and pepperjack. Not my bag, but he happily showed me his clean plate about ten minutes later. (If you look closely, he also had a side of the reason we came to Geraldine’s.)
It’s pretty rare I can make myself eat breakfast foods in restaurants, so I didn’t even bother trying. I wouldn’t necessarily call what we had brunch, because since when did a cup of chili become brunch fare.
Kick butt chili cup ($5) is loaded with three meats, red beans, and spices. This wasn’t as spicy as I like my chili, but it was tasty (the cheese and sour cream toppings helped).
Just another something wild to add to a mixture that you already know is going to include french toast is the macaroni and cheese ($8). It’s made with five cheeses, garlic, chopped tomatoes, a few jalapenos, cream, and magic spices. I wish it would’ve had “many” jalapenos instead of a few, but it was tasty. James sat there and mixed spoonfulls of chili with the mac for a chili mac while I watched and said “Eww” and waited for the french toast.
French toast ($9). I balked a little when I saw that price. Nine stinking dollars for two slices of bread? Really, Geraldine? I’m not sitting in a pretty cafe in downtown Paris, I’m sitting at a breakfast counter on Rainier Avenue. Seriously. But after we’d ordered and were waiting, and I began to see order after order come out of the window to be delivered to filled tables, and I heard nary a complaint (in fact, the joint was filled with foodgasmic noises from all corners), I just waited. I caught a guy I’d seen helping out in the kitchen at the counter and asked, “What’s the secret of that french toast? It’s deep fried, ain’t it? You can tell me.” It’s common knowledge that deep-frying ordinary foods turns them magically delicious, but of course an actual restaurant in Seattle would never admit to such heinous practices as deep-frying foods.
The politically correct Geraldine employee admitted to no such practices, assured me that the crispity-crunch on the outside, gooey-goodness on the inside came from soaking the slices of bread overnight and cooking in lots of butter. Not deep-frying it in butter, but practically close, he said with a smile. Whatever the hell Geraldine’s doing to that bread, it’s awesome. The reason I don’t like french toast is that I hate soggy bread. There’s not a sog one to this dish, and the flavors are fantastic. I barely needed the syrup on the side (but who’s going to ignore maple syrup when it’s on the table? Not me), and the strawberries were the perfect topping. So so good.
Geraldine’s french toast lived up to the hype and I’d recommend it to anybody looking for a good plate of bread soaked in custard and deep fried in butter. Don’t bother with the chili and mac, order three servings of the breakfast treat instead. I’d like to go back and try some other items from Geraldine, but whatever it’ll be, I know what I’m having for dessert.