Where: Perk Eatery
When: 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily
Dish: Wine Country French Toast
Price: $16.57 (including tax and tip)
The Setting: Perk Eatery, located at 6501 E. Greenway Parkway in North Scottsdale, is an interesting combination of atmospheres. On our visit, we noticed that the main dining area of the restaurant was much more sterile than the other, with hardly any décor on the orange and beige walls and a green ceiling. This side of the restaurant was very open — almost like a cafeteria — and aside from the granite-topped tables and the occasional chalkboard, it was nothing special. However, across a large booth bench was another dining room with a markedly different feel. Brick walls and a wall-length whimsical chalkboard full of interesting tidbits gave this second dining room some personality. The variety of levels created by a large bar, a tall wood community table, and a sitting area with leather chairs made for a much cozier and more interesting vibe.
The Food: The breakfast menu at Perk Eatery largely consisted of egg dishes. There was a smaller selection of "griddle favorites," including Belgian waffles and corned beef country-style hash. There were a few unusual items on the menu, as well, like Chicken on the Coup — crispy sausage and sage stuffing, topped with peppery sausage gravy and two eggs any style ($11.99) and Wine Country French toast — French toast stuffed with French Brie, topped with roasted red grapes and red wine rosemary syrup ($12.99). We chose the Wine Country French toast, which our server recommended as a sweet and savory combination.
The Good: The Brie-stuffed French toast itself was delicious. It tasted like baked Brie and was a decadent choice for breakfast. There was a delightful crunch on the outside of the toast, and the cheese on the inside was gooey and salty, the flavor of the rind and cheese mixing pleasantly with the sweetness of the bread. Because of the juxtaposition of textures and flavors, each bite made us hungry for the next. Although not a huge plate of food, the richness of the meal meant that the two slices of French toast were plenty and upon finishing, we were as stuffed as the toast.
The Bad: While the stuffed French toast itself was tasty, the accompaniments were not. The oven-roasted grapes had an off-putting texture — partially dehydrated but still moist, and they didn't look appetizing, either. Though we love the idea of oven-roasted grapes, these were more like something you'd see as part of a Halloween gag than something you'd want on your breakfast. The sauce wasn't great, either. The rosemary flavor was strong and seemed out of place. The red wine added great color but hardly any flavor, and the syrup was too sugary sweet for our taste. Fortunately, the syrup was just ladled on the bottom of the plate rather than over the entire dish, so we were able to enjoy the French Toast despite its presence.
Also, the service at Perk Eatery was underwhelming, and while we know Brie is an expensive cheese, nearly $17 (including tax and tip) for a breakfast dish is steep — particularly in a casual atmosphere such as Perk Eatery's. Had the Wine Country French toast come with a side of meat or a side of anything, really, it may have taken the sting out, but as it was, it felt unnecessarily pricy.
All In All: The French toast part of the Wine Country French toast was unusual and delicious. But if we ordered it again, we'd ask for it without the oven roasted grapes or red wine rosemary syrup and would opt for regular maple syrup. We would also ask to sit on the bar side of the restaurant, given how much more personality that area had than the larger side.
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