I'm not usually a big "breakfast blogger" (in fact, I think breakfast is generally a pretty unexciting meal that vacuums away a caloric deficit I'd rather save for wine). After an over-indulgent New Year's Eve, however, I woke up with an inexplicable yearning for some grease, protein, carbs and maybe a little sugar...along with a desperate desire for someone else to prepare it for me due to the disabling pain I was experiencing in my hair.
Needing something close at hand but wanting to avoid chains and the dining debacle that is The Brunchery (blech), we decided to check out this new kid on the block. While more of a cafe than a bistro, Neighborhood Bistro is a cute, clean and comfortable spot tucked away in a strip mall on Brandon Blvd. A chalkboard menu with a more creative than average selection of sandwiches, soups, salads and breakfast/brunch offerings adorns one wall, which you make your selection from and then step up to the counter to place your order (food is delivered to your table after it is prepared).
Underdog kept it simple with eggs, bacon, hash browns and a toasted croissant. Whipped butter was presented in a little ramekin which always gets Sweet Polly's stamp of approval, since she detests hard little foil-wrapped butter pats almost as much as she detests people who speak of themselves in the third person. Everthing was hot and tasty.
I'm always excited when corned beef hash is available...epecially when it doesn't taste like it's straight from the Hormel can. I was very happy with my hash and its crispy fried edges. Eggs were perfectly prepared as well.
Protein. Fat. Carbs. Check. Check. Check. I still needed sugar, however, to fully be able to rejoin the living. My sucrose fix came in the form of Brioche Creme Brulee French Toast. It was beautiful, thick, slightly crunchy on the outside and tender/custardy on the inside...as fine a french toast as I've had anywhere. What little of it I got, anyway. SOMEONE couldn't seem to keep his fork out of it.
The chef stopped by and presented each of us with a little condiment cupful of black-eyed peas and greens for New Year's Day good luck, of which I would've gladly snorted an entire bowlful if given the opportunity. Clearly not canned, the nutty peas melded well with the fresh greens and had a spicy kick to them that we really enjoyed. Nice touch!
By this time, the only thing I needed to feel human again was a mimosa...which sadly wasn't available (there's no alcohol at Neighborhood Bistro - at least not now). Still, I rallied nicely.
Good independent restaurants like this one, especially in the chain restaurant hell that is Brandon, need the community's support. You can expect well-prepared food, reasonable prices and caring service from people who seem like they actually want to be there. Give these guys a shot before IHOP and Denny's are our only breakfast options in east Hillsborough county.