Consider humble hash browns. Potatoes, fat, salt and pepper. Sometimes some onion. What could be simpler, right? I think most of know the answer to that. Homemade hash browns can be a disappointment. And restaurant hash browns can be a disaster. So when you find a place that gets it right every time, you know you’ve found something special, and it’s not usually going to be a fancy place, and there’s usually a griddle well-seasoned with years of fried onions, bacon, sausage and burgers.
There’s Judy’s Cafe in Two Harbors, where crispy hash browns can be dressed up with onion, ham chunks and cheddar.
There’s the Roesti at Original Pancake House, but it’s over-priced and they’re a chain. Plus I prefer my potatoes served without a heaping side order of attitude. Consistently bad behavior has soured me on them.
Absolutely the best breakfast we’ve ever had was at a place called the Cattle Baron in Babb, MT, just outside of Glacier National Park. The main building was a steakhouse at night but there was a small diner attached. Tables were set alongside a kitchen that almost had a chuckwagon feel to it. The woman who cooked turned out the most amazing breakfasts we have ever had before or since. The steak, eggs and hash browns was my favorite and an excellent way to start a day of hiking. And this wasn’t the usual “breakfast” steak you get at some places. The was a real, honest-to-goodness, melt-in-your mouth, beautifully fire grilled (and cooked rare the way I asked for it) steak. And great hash browns.
But, when I don’t want to drive to Montana or even Two Harbors, there’s Flameburger on Central Ave. Definitely not a fancy place. What some might even call a greasy spoon. Satisfyingly greasy! A place where you can get a burger with your hash browns if you want. It’s like going back in time and I love it. And the true joy of a place like this: You can watch the grill cooks work their magic on the griddle.
Watching good grill cooks is amazing. Speed, dexterity, organization, and most importantly, timing. Try making eggs, sausage, bacon, pancakes and hashbrowns at home some time and have it all hot and ready to serve at the same time. All while waitresses are calling out orders to you and regulars are at the counter joshing with you. It’s a real skill.
Their hashbrowns are my favorites here in town. Golden brown and crispy on the outside, soft and buttery on the inside. And yes, greasy.
But if you want cream in your coffee, you’ll have to bring your own. They serve non-dairy creamer. That’s my husbands only complaint.