The Breakfast Serial

The open-faced bagel at Kath's Cafe. photo/Dan Zarin

The open-faced bagel at Kath's Cafe. photo/Dan Zarin

Kath’s Café and Catering
1081 Brighton Ave., Portland

Head west on Brighton Avenue. Keep going … a little further. In Westbrook? Then you just missed Kath’s Café. Dwarfed amid the sea of car dealerships, chain restaurants and big-box stores on outer Brighton, Kath’s tiny blue house is easy to miss. That’s a shame, really. It’s worth stopping by for breakfast.

Kath and Tim Bryant took over the space formerly occupied by Francisco’s Blue House Café last August. Rather than operate a full-time restaurant, they decided to split their time between their catering business and a breakfast-and-lunch café (they’ve subsequently begun opening up for dinner a couple times a month). The husband-and-wife team handles pretty much everything at the café, giving the place a homey, mom-and-pop vibe. 

My wife, daughter and I dropped in on a recent Sunday morning. Arriving around nine o’clock, we sat down and accepted Tim’s offer of coffee. It was fresh and hot, though not quite as high a grade (or in as large a mug) as the old Blue House used to serve. Tim initially forgot to bring menus, but we flagged him down after a few minutes and he laughed it off with a sheepish mea culpa. 

Menus in hand, we made our selections from a tempting list. Highlights included scrambles and frittatas with pesto, sausage, tomatoes and cheese; stuffed French Toast; “apple pie” crepes; and an egg-battered Monte Christi (sic) sandwich.

I opted for the daily special, veggie homefries ($8): crisp, thin-sliced red potatoes, gently sautéed mushrooms, carrots, onions, peppers and broccoli, topped with two perfectly fried eggs and served with two thick slices of multigrain toast. The dish was seasoned very lightly, so the flavors of the fresh ingredients shone through. I finished every morsel and couldn’t eat another bite for the rest of the day.

My wife ordered the last slice of tomato, spinach and feta quiche ($8.95), served with choice of fruit salad or green salad. She went for the green salad, and was impressed by the generous portion of fresh spinach and assorted vegetables — basically the same veggies as were in my home fries. (We guessed they probably had a substantial amount of leftover crudités prepped for a catering gig earlier in the weekend. It seemed like a pretty economical use of ingredients, and a smart way to make both sides of the business work together.) The quiche was creamy and flavorful, and the house balsamic vinaigrette on the salad proved a perfect complement to the salty richness of the feta.

My not-quite-five-year-old daughter was in the mood for something a little different, and the open-faced bagel with cream cheese, cucumbers, tomatoes and “assorted veggies” (any guesses on the assortment?) drizzled with olive oil, cracked black pepper and sea salt fit the bill. Plus, at $4.95, it was a good deal for all that food. She added a side order of fresh fruit, which arrived in an impressively large bowl, considering its $2 price tag. 

The café space is sunny and comfortable, with scuffed hardwood floors and wooden dining chairs. From the freshly laundered hand towels in the bathroom to the chocolate-cherry mini-cupcakes presented with the bill, the Café feels warm and friendly, kind of like a bed and breakfast without the bed. 

I was a fan of the Blue House Café, and our family quietly mourned its passing (we particularly missed the ceramic Komodo dragon that used to live in the bathtub in the ladies’ room). But Kath and Tim have done an admirable job maintaining the comfortable atmosphere and high standards that will keep us coming back. 

— Dan Zarin

Kath’s Café is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., and from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekends.