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North-side café goes big on selection and portions, but a bit easy on flavor

click to enlarge Chicken fried steak makes a hearty breakfast choice at Easy - Street Caf. - JON KELLEY
  • Jon Kelley
  • Chicken fried steak makes a hearty breakfast choice at Easy Street Caf.

Considering that it's attached to a Briargate car wash, the Easy Street Café seems an unlikely place to find comfort.

But manager Eric Harstad says the eatery's goal is to provide "good food at reasonable prices in a tasteful setting."

And sure enough, the food is good (though not great), and the décor is tasteful: Wood trim and floors and trompe-l'oeil images of jazz-age glamour help one forget the concrete sprawl outside. Best of all, large windows offer great views of Pikes Peak.

On a dinner visit, our friendly server gave us the menu rundown, touting the ribs, fish and chips and fajitas as favorites. It's good to have a guide for a menu that covers the gamut of familiar comfort foods.

Easy Street, which came under new management about a year ago, dishes everything from soups, salads, sandwiches and burgers ($5-$10) to pasta, steaks, chops and teriyaki chicken ($10-$18).

Entres come with a choice of sides that include various potatoes, veggies, Spanish rice, salads and fruit. Diners can also construct their own three-course meal, including appetizer, entre with a side, and dessert for $15.95. It easily feeds two, with just a $2 split charge.

In lieu of appetizers, we ordered homemade soups. The creamy potato soup sported chunks of perfectly cooked potatoes, smoky ham and just enough melting cheddar. The gumbo arrived on the salty side, and though okra slices retained some tooth, the bits of chicken were overcooked.

Next came the Seafood Duo ($13.95) of batter-fried cod and coconut shrimp served with orange marmalade. The fish was fair fresh, firm and not too greasy but the thin beer batter, while crisp on the outside, was doughy inside and didn't stand up to a sprinkling of malt vinegar.

At my server's recommendation, I ordered the veggie side over the Seasoned Cheesed Red Potatoes. Delightfully, the sauted summer squash proved the best part of my meal.

The Rib Duo (two out of three rib options, $16.75) arrived in heaps of tender meat and bones. The baby back and beef ribs with barbecue again proved enough for two people, but connoisseurs take note: There wasn't even a hint of smoke, and the sauce lacked tang.

Thankfully, dessert ended our meal on a high note. The créme brule, perfectly smooth with rich, vanilla-custard notes, was a bargain at $3.95, and there was plenty for two to share amicably.

Easy Street's breakfast mirrors dinner in that it's loaded with predictable choices: eggs and bacon, omelets, Benedicts, pancakes, French toast. We tried the fruit crepes ($6.95), laden with fresh strawberries, bananas and whipped cream. Unfortunately, the crepes themselves were cold and dry, with no egg flavor.

The eggs in the Eggs Diablo ($7.45), billed as Benedict with a "special spicy Hollandaise," came tender and cooked to order. But the dish, overall, was indistinguishable from the original, save for a sprinkling of cayenne. For coffee, giant mugs contained bitter brew; at least our again-impressive server stayed on top of refills.

On the whole, demanding foodies should probably stay on their own street. But if you're looking for a clean, comfortable neighborhood haunt on the north side that offers a wide selection, familiar recipes and generous portions, Easy Street will get you there.

scene@csindy.com


Easy Street Café
6995 Lexington Drive, 594-4300, easystreetcafe online.com
Hours: Breakfast, Monday through Saturday, 8-11 a.m., and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Lunch and dinner, daily, 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.

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