The Breakfast Serial

photo/Dan Zarin

The Last Unicorn Restaurant
8 Silver St., Waterville

I love road trips. Especially breakfast road trips. So I was gung-ho to drive up north and meet some friends for the morning meal. Sure, it meant leaving the house early, hungry, grumpy and poorly caffeinated. But a trusted source had recommended a place in Fairfield that serves 19 kinds of homemade doughnuts (including sweet potato with maple glaze), and I was willing to endure pretty much any hardship for that. An hour and a half later, we climbed out of the car and saw a sign: “Closed for Vacation.” Nooooooo!

Time for Plan B. Luckily, I remembered a former co-worker, a Colby grad, mentioning one of her favorite spots in downtown Waterville, the Last Unicorn Restaurant. (This in turn brought to mind The Last Unicorn, the saccharine animated classic from 1982 that starred Mia Farrow as the Unicorn and Alan Arkin as a wizard named Schmendrick.)

We found a table on the sunny, breezy patio. Our waitress brought mugs of fresh, hot coffee while we pored over the menu. Brunch starts at 11, and leans toward the lunch side, with some killer-sounding entrees like almond-crusted chicken with balsamic-soaked berries. But there were plenty of choices for those of us in a breakfast mood.

Letting her sweet tooth be her guide, my daughter chose cinnamon roll French toast with caramelized apples ($7.95). I managed to talk her out of a couple bites. A full order would have put me in a sugar coma, but it was some powerfully good French toast. She clearly agreed, polishing off everything on her plate, including the side of fruit and the lettuce it came on. Our friends’ 3-year-old chose the toast too, and made an impressive dent in her order.

My wife had Eggs Champignon ($9.95), a meatless Benedict topped with sautéed mushrooms. The earthiness of the mushrooms provided a nice contrast to the tangy Hollandaise, and the eggs were perfectly poached. On the side, crisp, well-seasoned home fries and a generous medley of fresh fruit rounded out the plate.

My friend and I both ordered another member of the Benedict family, Eggs Chesapeake ($11.95). This one had sweet, crisp (yet greaseless) crab cakes in place of the traditional Canadian bacon, and it was damned near perfect. I swear, these people could teach an egg-poaching master class.

We finished our meal and found a playground nearby, where the kids burned off some energy before it was time to hit the road. The Last Unicorn is even better than the movie (did I mention Jeff Bridges is in it, too?). Well worth a breakfast road trip.

— Dan Zarin

The Last Unicorn Restaurant serves brunch Saturdays and Sundays from 11:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.