With breakfast at Ivey's, who needs Tiffany's?


Published: Thursday, February 1, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, February 1, 2007 at 1:18 a.m.

Ivey's Grill is one of those old standbys.

Facts

Ivey's Grill

3303 W. University Ave. (371-4839)

  • HOURS: 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday
  • FOOD: American and vegetarian
  • ATMOSPHERE: Homey
  • SERVICE: Satisfactory
  • LIBATIONS: Beer and wine

It's a neighborhood restaurant whose reputation extends well beyond its neighborhood.

You will find people from all over town crowded in here on Sunday mornings, seeking Ivey's well-regarded breakfasts, just as they've done since 1984.

It's a small place, and that's at least part of the mystique. There are about 10 wooden booths and perhaps a half-dozen tables.

It's not rare for the weekend wait to hit 45 minutes, but I've seen plenty of people willing to wait that long for Ivey's Banana Bread French Toast or Tofu-Veggie Saute.

The breakfasts are almost legendary.

Perhaps it is because of some creative combinations that go well beyond the usual bacon and eggs (although those certainly are available, too).

The Banana Bread French Toast is exceptional - homemade banana-nut bread dipped in a cinnamon-egg batter, fried, sprinkled with powdered sugar, studded with fresh banana slices and served with syrup.

If you prefer, there is whole wheat or Cinnamon-Raisin French toast, but the banana is tops.

One slice goes for $3.50 and two slices are $5.50.

There are plenty of egg dishes, too.

But nothing on the egg side of the menu quite stands up to the French toast.

A Smoked Trout Scramble gives it a good try. Think scrambled eggs with smoked trout, onions and chives ($9).

Less enticing are Salmon Potato Cakes, made when I tried them with overpoweringly fishy poached salmon mixed with shredded potatoes and served with caper-red onion tartar, spinach hollandaise or regular hollandaise sauce ($9).

There are Eggs Benedict ($9), but why not step out and try Veggies Benedict, an alternate take on the famous guilty pleasure? This one features poached eggs perched upon roasted eggplant, tomatoes, zucchini, onions and tomatoes topped with spinach hollandaise. All this sits atop a whole-wheat English muffin ($10). I passed.

Frittatas, omelets, a black-bean breakfast burrito, scones, fruit, yogurt and granola fill out the menu.

The egg dishes are served with a tasty homemade buttermilk biscuit and great herb potatoes or grits.

The restaurant used to serve dinner Thursday through Saturday, but it currently does not.

A special, five-course meal is available by reservation on Valentine's Day, however.

Lunch is popular here.

There are a variety of salads, three interesting fish sandwiches, a monster burger, a pair of vegetarian sandwiches and more.

Prices are a little steep, $14 for the fish sandwiches, $10 for a half-pound cheeseburger and $9-$12 for the meal-sized salads. Sandwiches are served with potato salad, pasta salad, a sweet, dessert-like apple salad or corn chips.

If the red bean salad side dish is available, try it.

If you go to Ivey's, you should go with an empty bladder.

The restrooms leave a lot to be desired.

Ivey's occupies an odd, L-shaped storefront in the West Gate shopping center at 34th Street and University Avenue.

To call it an unusual space is an understatement.

To visit the restrooms, one has to walk through the servers' drink station, turn left and pass close enough to the kitchen to feel the heat from the stove.

And once you get there, the restrooms smell like a sewer, men's and ladies' alike.

They are cramped, dingy, outdated - woefully past the need for remodeling.

If Ivey's hopes to continue the legend, this issue needs to be addressed.

David Carlson has been writing about food and wine for more than 15 years. Email dave@carlsonfamily.net . Dining is done anonymously and without advance notice. All meals are paid for by the Gainesville Sun.

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