August 9-15, 2006

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First Bite

Barefoot Cafe

By Therese Nicol

The Barefoot Cafe opened in Fairfax on June 10, and has been packed every weekend morning since. That, I discovered, is because their breakfast is so damned good.

The new restaurant, which sits conveniently across from the big public parking lot, is crisply painted in bright Caribbean yellow. With its canopies and long paned windows, the Barefoot Cafe could easily rest undiscovered on a Key West street. Here, in earthen Fairfax, it's a shiny gem of sunshine.

My companion, Sheila, is a tough critic. When our server stepped on Sheila's chair in order to open the window, she leaned across the table. "If I were by myself," she hissed, "I'd be out the door." But her consternation lasted only briefly, because our lovely breakfast arrived. Suddenly, it was like Benihana Gone Wild: knives and forks flew.

The breakfast menu is loaded with choices, including omelets, Benedicts, pancakes, cereals and waffles. I chose the veggie omelet, full of peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms and big clumps of mouth-burning baby spinach ($7.95) as well as the cornmeal waffle ($5.95). Sheila took the Havana omelet loaded with apple-smoked bacon, sundried tomatoes and cheese ($8.95), and the organic whole-wheat pancakes ($6.95).

Both omelets were cooked perfectly, and the cheese was melted and wrapped around the other ingredients in a velvety cocoon of cholesterol that was extremely satisfying. Even the home fries were great: parboiled red potatoes perfectly browned and piping hot, with enough onion to lend flavor but not to overwhelm. In fact, everything was piping hot, and in matters breakfast, this makes or breaks the deal. Egg dishes are served with your choice of toast or the house-made scone that Sheila opted for.

From my taste, it was good, but the pièces de résistance were the organic whole-wheat pancakes. They were moist and delicious with just a hint of molasses. With their accompanying maple syrup, they were the real blue ribbon winners.

The Barefoot Cafe serves lunch and dinner, too. The dinner menu is spare, but the lunch menu has all the standard diner fare. The patty melt caught my eye, and I might run over there some day soon to try that out. Right now, I'm still full from my breakfast.

Barefoot Cafe, 1900 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Fairfax. Open 7am to 10pm daily. 415.460.2160.

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Quick-and-dirty dashes through North Bay restaurants. These aren't your standard "bring five friends and order everything on the menu" dining reviews.