Breakfast the highlight at Auntie Mae’s

10/17/2012 2:37 PM

10/17/2012 2:38 PM

Wichita can’t seem to get enough breakfast places, which are packed all over town on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

Now, the many residential areas near Central and Tyler have a new – and very big – option. Auntie Mae’s Attic & Cafe moved from a small space in Delano to the bigger west-side space in June. Just a few months later, it took over the building next door and expanded, adding an enormous dining area.

Michael Goens and Albert Conrad moved their antiques store from 1301 W. Douglas in Delano this summer and, in the process, added a restaurant. Though it serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, its strength is definitely the morning meal.

ON THE MENU: Auntie Mae’s serves breakfast items such as pancakes, waffles, biscuits and gravy, fresh-made cinnamon rolls and “scrambles.” Appetizers include fried pickles, fried mushrooms and the like, and there also are burgers, sandwiches and salads. Fried pork chops, chicken fried chicken, chicken fried steak and a few other diner-ish dishes make up the dinner selections.

DON’T-MISS DISHES: The best dish we sampled at Auntie Mae’s was the chicken fried steak, which was big (8 ounces) and beautiful and enveloped in perfect crunchy, fluffy breading. The flavor of the meat was just as good, and it was difficult to stop eating it. We had it for breakfast paired with two fried eggs, a thick, sweet and doughy pancake and a serving of cubed, crunchy and yummy breakfast potatoes. It was $10.49.

The steak’s only stumble was the gravy on top of it, and that gravy is an issue. It’s advertised on the menu as “sweet” gravy, and is it ever. The sweetness factor is the stuff of a Paula Deen daydream, but it’s overwhelming and makes everything it touches taste weird, including an order of biscuits and gravy ($4.99), made with what otherwise would be delicious, perfectly fluffy, giant biscuits.

The Michael’s Deluxe Scramble ($7.99), one of several combinations of scrambled eggs, meat and veggies, had a nice flavor and was made with smoked bacon, onion, bell pepper and diced tomato piled on top of potatoes and covered with melted cheese. But the eggs were overdone to the point of turning a brownish, pale yellow. The dish would have been better topped with fried eggs, but then it would have been a skillet rather than a scramble. There’s also a Southwestern scramble that adds black beans, ham and sausage, and customers can build their own scrambles, too.

We also sampled one of Auntie Mae’s cinnamon rolls, which are made fresh daily. It was good, topped with a big mound of super-sweet cream cheese icing, but the center could have been gooier. They also were a little small to justify their $3.99 apiece price tag. (An order of four is $12.99.)

Our experience with the non-breakfast menu was less appetizing. We tried two burgers – the basic All-American burger ($7.99) and an intriguing-sounding buffalo-style blue burger ($8.99), made with a breaded, deep-fried burger patty topped with buffalo sauce and blue cheese crumbles and served on a pretzel bun. The bun was nice, but the meat in both was dry, and the breading and frying of the burger served no purpose that we could discern.

The “corny Rueben” ($10.49) was made on overly buttered rye bread and filled with chopped corned beef that was fatty and not very flavorful.

We did enjoy the fried pickles appetizer ($6.49), a generous serving of pickle slices fried up in a light batter and served with a side of ranch dressing.

PRICE RANGE: Breakfast dishes are $4.99 to $10.99. Burgers and sandwiches range from $7.50 to $10.50. Dinner entrees are $10.50 to $12.

AMBIENCE: The Auntie Mae’s complex includes three areas. Customers enter to a cozy, homey room with red booths and a sitting area with couches and comfy chairs. To the right is a small antiques store. To the left is the new dining room, which is cavernous and furnished with booths, tables and chairs and a display case for baked items.

SERVICE: On two visits, the staff seemed hurried and stressed. But once we were seated, our service was smooth and problem-free.

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