Rise and Dine

The food also improved my disposition. Most of it should see you through to the five o'clock whistle, as well. Hash may be a coffee-shop breakfast staple, but Wright's version furnishes a tasty upscale twist. Here you get "Aged Beef Tenderloin Hash," full ofhearty, beefy chunks of tender meat combined with potatoes and topped with a poached egg. This is a particularly good breakfast choice if you're employed as a lumberjack.

The kitchen does some clever things to scrambled eggs. They're teamed with mild Italian sausage, peppers and mozzarella, and served atop fragrant olive bread. A side of rosemary-scented roast potatoes adds to the pleasure.

The best breakfast item is also the most expensive. At $11.25, the poached eggs with crab may seem like a bit of a splurge, but this dish doesn't shortchange you on taste. You get two eggs partnered with spinach, tomatoes and bits of crab, resting on grated shreds of skillet-fried potatoes. Everything's moistened with a perky cayenne-pimento sauce. I mopped this plate clean.

The apple walnut pancakes are also outstanding. I wouldn't have minded three flapjacks instead of the two I got, but I can't complain about quality. The pancakes come with a big pitcher of maple syrup and a mound of fantastic maple raisin butter that the hotel might profitably package for retail sale.

Wright's also puts out a not-too-elaborate weekday brunch--fruit, pastries, miniature bagels, smoked salmon, prosciutto. The $12.75 tag may seem steep, but not once you factor in the cost of orange juice, which is included with the spread. That's because àla carte cost of OJ is $3.75. Ouch. And it doesn't taste fresh-squeezed, either, but more like the pasteurized, not-from-concentrate juice that comes in cartons. A free-refill policy is only marginally helpful.

These days, I'm willing to overlook last year's unpleasant dinner here. This very satisfying breakfast proves to me that two wrongs don't make it Wright's.

Navajo Room, Marriott's Camelback Inn, 5402 East Lincoln Drive, Paradise Valley, 948-1700. Hours: Breakfast, Monday through Saturday, 6:30 to 11:30 a.m.; Sunday, 6:30 to 11 a.m.

Don't look for sun-dried cherries and pine nuts in the French toast, or poached eggs adorned with crab at a Navajo Room breakfast. The fare here leans to the solid, unfussy sort Americans are used to: traditional pancakes, waffles, omelets.

Although the menu won't wow anyone, the Southwestern-themed room might. It's a sight: huge, wooden, wagon-wheel chandeliers, ringed with arrowheads with lightbulbs in their tips; rugs, baskets and drums hanging from the walls; potted cactuses on the linen-lined tables; beautiful chairs fashioned from carved wood with the smoothed bark still on them. The windows overlook the pool area, with Mummy Mountain framed in the distance.

The Sunrise Buffet spread (it's available until 10 a.m.) seems to be a better deal here than the one at the Terrace Dining Room or Wright's. However, that's mostly because àla carte choices don't offer too many dazzling alternatives.

Still, the buffet has a few moments of its own. Breads and pastries are especially tempting: buttery croissants, chewy bagels, nut-studded, sticky cinnamon buns (yum), moist marble cake, flaky strudel.

The fruit section is a lot more resistible. The kitchen puts out a variety of melons and berries, but, at this time of year, they're not exactly bursting with summer ripeness.

There's also a row of chafing dishes filled with the usual buffet-line suspects: sausage, bacon, soggy French toast and roast potatoes. There's also a platter of inferior smoked salmon, tough and stringy. You're best off marching past all this, halting when you get to the guy with the cowboy hat and Brooklyn accent manning the pancake-and-omelet station. He fixes up fluffy buttermilk pancakes and, if you like, yolkless egg dishes.

Because Camelback Inn also houses a spa,several breakfast items are geared to calorie counters. Blue corn waffles provide a simultaneous dose of taste and nutrition (calories, 644; carbohydrates, 34 grams; cholesterol, 10milligrams; fat, 2 grams; protein, 13grams). It's not clear whether the nutritional analysis also includes the luscious prickly pear syrup I poured all over the waffle.

If you're not obsessing over fat, calories and cholesterol, I suggest either the Gold Rush steak--potatoes, onions, peppers and a small filet, adorned with a poached egg and jack cheese--or the Eagle's Nest, which consists of thick slabs of grilled challah (egg bread) with a poached egg in the center, topped with Cheddar and resting on a slice of ham.

Polish these off, and you may find shining a lot easier than rising.

Terrace
Dining Room:
Pancakes
$8.00
Belgian waffles
9.25
French toast
9.50

Wright's:
Apple walnut pancakes
$7.75
Scrambled eggs
on olive bread
8.25
"Aged Beef
Tenderloin Hash"
10.25

Navajo Room:
Blue corn waffle
$7.95
Eagle's Nest
7.95
Sunrise Buffet
11.95

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