Registry Tampa Bay

The Western Omelette was invented at Slim’s Egg Emporium & Iron Works in 1911 in Largo, a city on Florida’s western Coast.

Wait, what? Check that. I’ve just been told that the Western Omelette was created in the American West, probably by cattle drivers and/or Chinese railroad cooks. Glad we got that straightened out.

Western omelettes are also called Denver omelettes — the names are basically interchangeable. But here on Florida’s western coast, at least two restaurants draw a distinction. Along with the ham, onions, peppers and cheese found in the Denver Omelette, Egg Haven Cafe and Metro Diner add an ingredient to make theirs a Western: Mushrooms. (Not a fan, but I’ve come this far.) Metro even covers its with salsa.

Huh. Could be a local thing, like putting potato salad in Greek salads. Okay, I’m already too far in the weeds. Let’s get started.

METRO DINER

We arrived at the Metro Diner on 4th Street in St. Pete — one of two in the Tampa Bay area — at 6 p.m. on Tuesday and sat in a booth with a straight back and hard leather bottom. I’ll ask for a table next time.

I rarely eat breakfast for dinner, but scheduling required me to do so. Metro offers breakfast from open to close. Our server, Jessica, had a sunny disposition and was eager to make sure our visit was tasty and pleasant.

I ordered the Western Omelet ($11.99) with home fries and an English muffin. I requested the eggs be cooked soft, but not runny. Jessica asked me if I wanted the salsa on top or or on the side. However you usually serve it, I replied. On top, it was.

Appearance

An altogether appealing presentation. Western omelettes are not part of my regular dining regimen, but even so, I’ve never had one with salsa. I liked the idea — and the look of it.

Texture and Taste

Although it didn’t take long for our meals to come out, my omelette was weirdly not hot. In fact, it was barely warm. Jessica stopped by and asked, cheerily, “How is everything?” I replied, politely, that my omelette was strangely not hot. She leapt into action and had a hot one in front of me in a few short minutes.

The mild salsa really worked, and thankfully did not give the meal a Tex-Mex edge. The eggs were cooked to my liking — I hate when they’re dry(ish). I would’ve preferred the cheese to be more present, and the mushrooms to be less so. The large slices dominated the innards.

The home fries were cooked firmly, with no outer shell. Kudos. I could taste real potato.

EGG HAVEN CAFE

Egg Haven, located on 66th Street in St. Pete, has the look of a ’70s era roadhouse diner. As it turns out, the place has only been open three years. The restaurant is a retrofitted IHop, which helps explain the, um, vintage appearance. The breakfast-centric concept has been successful enough that two more have opened since — in Clearwater and Largo.

We arrived on Wednesday at 11:30, well past the time when I eat a big breakfast. We sat at a booth in the no-frills interior, a booth that was marginally more comfortable than the one at Metro Diner.

Our server, Leti, had a sunny disposition and was eager to make sure our visit was tasty and pleasant. Together, and on consecutive days, Jessica and Leti shattered the myth of diner waitresses being irascible and disinterested.

I ordered the Western Omelet ($13.99) with home fries and an English muffin.

Appearance

This dish looked disheveled in comparison to the one at Metro, but appetizing all the same. The meat and veggies were visible through the egg, a good sign. I was not, however, encouraged by the crispy-looking shells of the home fries.

Texture and Taste

The omelette was hot, so we were off to a good start. The cheese was very there, and gooey enough so that at one point Bonnie told me to napkin some off my beard. There were far fewer mushrooms — thank you — and they were chopped into smaller pieces.

The ham had a smoky flavor that stood out and the peppers offered some welcome crackle. Overall, there seemed to be more stuff inside this omelette than the competition’s.

The home fries had plenty of charred, crunchy pieces, requiring me to pick through and find ones I preferred — and then those were kind of mushy.

So Which of These Restaurants Makes the Best Western Omelette?

Hmm, this is a tough call. I dug both of my Western omelettes and was pleased to learn that I could enjoy them outside the breakfast time window.

Metro had the superior potatoes, and the salsa was a welcome wild card.

Egg Haven’s omelette was more substantial with a better combo of flavors. But I left most of the home fries on the plate.

Metro’s meal came out lukewarm, although it was only a minor inconvenience. Egg Haven’s came out hot.

The service was superlative in both restaurants.

Re-checking the scorecards, the split decision goes to …

Egg Haven Cafe.*

*The Official Friday Food Fight Policy is to not issue ties, but I could have done so this week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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