Every so often, I like to stop by Shakers American Cafe, the longtime College Park diner, to remind myself what great food it serves. I go in expecting good, basic fare and I’m always impressed that it rises a few levels above that.
That was the case recently when a friend and I stopped in for a between breakfast and lunch meal – we didn’t call it brunch because that sounded inappropriately tony, and we were definitely there for breakfast.
My eyes were drawn immediately to the blackboard outside the restaurant that listed short rib hash as one of the day’s special. I’m a sucker for breakfast hash. If you’re ever sitting in a diner that has hash on its menu and you see me walk in, make a bet with your dining companion on what I’m going to order; you’re almost sure to win.
Especially if the has is like Shakers’. It was sort of like a beef stew with the gravy removed. Instead of quarter-inch diced potatoes these were big hunks, skin on, thank you, with carrots to match and tender short rib that was also a, well, meaty size. Next time I’ll request to have my sunny side up eggs placed directly on top of the hash because I like to break the yolks and let them ooze into the mix.
I got one of Shakers’ grilled biscuits and was impressed that there were several jam choices – most places now just give you one, usually grape, and you can take it or leave it. Also, tubs of real butter.
My companion ordered the western omelet and commented that he didn’t think he’d ever seen one with so much stuff in it. I had to agree. The fluffily folded eggs where chockfull of ham, mushrooms, onions, peppers, tomatoes and melted cheddar cheese. There were so many ingredients that some of them had to be place on top of the omelet.
It came with grits that were delicious with some of the real butter added. And we also got a big fluffy pancake to share – “we’re going to need more butter over here.” We smothered it with syrup.
I noticed on the menu board inside that Shakers now has cinnamon rolls and sticky buns, so I ordered one each to go to have the next day (there was no way I could eat them there after so much food). Each came with its appropriate goo, a glaze for the sticky bun and icing for the roll. They were both satisfying but I think I preferred the cinnamon roll.
Our server was welcoming and accommodating, and Greg Granda, who took over the 28-year-old restaurant eight years ago with his wife, Terry, was on hand overseeing things.
They’ve both kept the quality of this charming cafe with its decor of hundreds of salt and pepper shakers first rate. It’s no wonder it keeps winning awards – including our Foodster Award for Best Breakfast.