University students are renowned for being frugal. Due to various factors, including the cost of living, tuition, student fees, and book prices, this is more necessity than lifestyle choice. As such, the eateries around a university’s campus need meet certain requirements. This is because cash-strapped students hit them between classes for a quick bite or to fuel up after classes before heading back to the dorms, labs, or libraries. These eateries need to be reasonable price-wise and have fast service. To meet these needs, they tend to serve diner-like or pub-like fare. It’s fast to prepare. It requires simple ingredients and it produces large portions at low cost. In the morning, a lot of these eateries will offer a cheap breakfast. We’re talking the one or two egg combos for a couple bucks.
I ate a lot of these combos when I was a student. At the local campus joint, my “regular” consisted of two over easy eggs, two rashers of bacon, two breakfast sausages, home fries, four triangles of lightly buttered toast, and a coffee. As frosh (freshman if you’re American), the combo cost $3. When I graduated, it cost $5.
It’s been a couple years. The grease doesn’t get along with me as well as it used to, but I still treat myself to a cheap breakfast combo every once in a while. The one at Le Deli in the food court at Place Du Centre demonstrates that breakfast combos can have regional variations, but are based on the same premise: fast to prepare, simple ingredients, large portions, and low cost. In this case, the regional variation is based on French Canadian culture.
At Le Deli the breakfast combo consists of two eggs, two breakfast sausages, potatoes, four triangles of buttered toast, baked beans (fÃ¨ve au lard) and coffee, all for $5.25. The eggs are made to order and in any style. Mine usually end up over easy. Here’s a tip: How well the person at the grill makes over easy eggs is an indication of his/her skills and experience. Le Deli’s grill man has mad skills. My yolks always end up runny, but they aren’t broken when they get to my plate. They are not greasy either. The breakfast sausages are fresh, thin skinned, and juicy. They are a far cry from the dry breakfast sausages from other breakfast joints that taste of nothing but filler and whose skins are 3 mm thick from sitting too long under the heat lamps.
What is distinctive about the combo at Le Deli are the baked beans and the potatoes. While you can order traditional home fries, I strongly recommend you try the vegetable potatoes. They look almost scalloped. They are cooked with tomatoes, onions, and green peppers and seasoned with what looks like dried parsley and paprika. Its spiciness is brightened by the vegetables. It work beautifully with the starchiness of the potatoes. The baked beans have a sweetness that reminds me of molasses. You will be hard pressed to find baked beans on the Ottawa side with a typical breakfast combo.
Every so often, you crave a cheap breakfast combo. For me, I usually satiate my cravings on Friday mornings and end up in line with a tray at Le Deli. BTW, the line up at Le Deli gets long. Go early.