Breakfast Brackets Game 2: Cafe Eclectic vs. Bryant’s

Posted by Holly Whitfield | November 20th 2009 4959 0

It’s game two of the breakfast brackets. In one corner, a relative newcomer to the Memphis breakfast scene, known for its coffee and bakery, behold Cafe Eclectic!

Cafe Eclectic, Memphis, Tenn.

Cafe Eclectic, Memphis, Tenn.

Facing off against Cafe Eclectic is an old standby, a stalwart Summer Ave. classic. Ladies and Gentlemen, Bryant’s!

Remember that each category is judged on a scale of 1-10 for a possible 90 points.

Bryants, Memphis, Tenn.

Bryant's, Memphis, Tenn.

Cafe Eclectic
603 N Mclean Blvd
Memphis, TN 38107

Order: Two eggs any style (comes with biscuits and grits) with a side of bacon and a pancake, coffee to wash it all down.

Two eggs any style from Cafe Eclectic

Two eggs any style from Cafe Eclectic

Coffee: Cafe Eclectic has a definite coffee shop vibe to it, so I had high hopes for their coffee. Their regular drip coffee lives up – it’s fresh, drinkable and better than average. (8 points)

Biscuit: The meal I got came with two small-ish biscuits. They may be small, but they’re densely fluffy. They don’t have much flavor other than “BREAD”, but that’s not a bad thing.  (6 points)

Bacon: The bacon is super crispy. You can break it without trying terribly hard. It’s a little salty, but there’s not a whole lot of bacony flavor.  (6 points)

Scrambled Eggs: These were the weirdest scrambled eggs I think I’ve ever had. They weren’t scrambled like normal scrambled eggs (in a little messy egg pile). They were flat and folded into a nice little square. They tasted alright, but the texture was off. (4.5 points)

Pancake: The Cafe Eclectic pancake was fluffy and of a decent (but not overwhelming) thickness. They weren’t anything super special, but they get the job done. (6 points)

Grits: In the interest of full disclosure, I have to let you know that I don’t like grits. I’m suspicious of their jiggling, and their texture kind of freaks me out. But in the interest of the breakfast brackets, I’m going to set that aside and try them anyway.

That said, the grits at Cafe Eclectic are from Delta Grind, a local supplier. They get points for that. As for the grits themselves, they were very watery. Think spoon, not fork. (3.5 points)

Service: Cafe Eclectic has full table service. It’s a little hit or miss – sometimes, the waitstaff is overattentive, sometimes they’re perfect, and sometimes it’s going to take a miracle to get your check. When I was there, the service wasn’t super speedy, but it was attentive. (7 points)

Atmosphere: I mentioned that Cafe Eclectic has a reputation of being coffee shop. That’s not untrue – they’re fine with laptop use and totally cool with you sticking around as long as you like. But with the full table service, it’s a little bit more like a European cafe than a regular coffee shop. Breakfast can get a little crowded, especially on the weekends. (8 points)

Price: My breakfast cost $12. There was a lot of food, but it seemed a little high, considering that most of the food was good, but  nothing to write home about.(5 points)

Total Score: 54 points
Cafe Eclectic on Urbanspoon
And now, the competition:


3965 Summer Ave
Memphis, TN 38122

Order: Bryant’s Breakfast Special, pancake, coffee

Bryants Breakfast Special, Memphis, Tenn.

Bryant's Breakfast Special, Memphis, Tenn.

Coffee: The people at Bryant’s have their priorities straight. While you’re waiting in line to place your order, you can grab a mug or a go cup and fill up on coffee. The coffee is standard Folger-y diner fare, but I swear they add some extra caffeine to it – I was buzzing for hours. (6 points)

Biscuit: The biscuits are amazing. They’re perfectly fluffy, slightly salty and have a lot of flavor. It’s like they’re baked in heaven every morning and delivered to Bryant’s by a pack of hangover-curing angels. And the breakfast special comes with three of them, which is more than any sane person can eat.   (10 points)

Bacon: Bryant’s bacon was a little greasy, but it wasn’t super crunchy, tough or salty.  (7.5 points)

Scrambled Eggs: The scrambled eggs were light and fluffy. They had a tiny bit of runniness to them, but it was a patchy, inconsistent runniness. (6.5 points)

Pancake: Bryant’s doesn’t do regular bread pancakes, so they gave me a potato (hash brown) pancake instead. Whatever – it was so good, I don’t care what it’s made of. It was salty and greasy and flavorful. Love! (8.5 points)

Grits: People, grits are a blank canvas. They’re the 8.5 x 11 white paper of the breakfast world – they need something on them to be interesting. The texture of Bryant’s grits was right on, but there was no real flavor. (6 points)

Service: You place your order at the counter at Bryant’s. They give you a number and nice ladies in shirts that say witty things about gravy come and bring you your food. When the place gets crowded, the service is still fast, friendly and efficient. (9 points)

Atmosphere: Bryant’s is super unpretentious. You need somewhere to eat breakfast, they have tables. There are a lot of regulars and everyone seems to know everyone, which is nice. (7 points)

Price: The Bryant’s Breakfast Special plus coffee and a pancake ran about $9. Not bad, considering how much food you get and how delicious it is.  (7.5 points)

Total Score: 61.5 points
Bryant's Bar-B-Q & Breakfast on Urbanspoon

Next hangover, thy cure is Bryant’s.

Bryant’s will go on to face the Arcade in round two.

Author: Holly Whitfield

I write about what’s going on with Memphis music, food, arts, events, sports, people, and culture. Memphians love Elvis and barbeque with a passion that must be seen to be believed, but there is so much more to this place.

Show Comments


  1. Memphis Baby Bug says:

    Oh, I can’t wait for the next showdown b/w Arcade and Bryant’s, 2 of my faves. I’ll have to check out bracket 1 for my down the road go to, Three Little Pigs.
    Must report on Barksdale’s, Brother Junipers, Bagel Co. and West St. Diner also! I’ll be waiting for those!

  2. jess says:

    I think you need another qualifier – line… I have NEVER been able to dine at Bryant’s because the line is too long. with a toddler, it seems reasonable to not have to wait in line. and I don’t at Cafe Eclectic. I agree that the service is spotty at Eclectic. but your description of the grease levels has further dissuaded me of the notion of trying Bryant’s.

  3. Wintermute says:

    Eclectic’s eggs appear to be a twice-folded crepe. Bryant’s look overcooked, with the protein having squeezed some water out of the scramble.

    Next time, go for cheese grits, or mix your own at the table, if they’re hot, with butter and cheese you request on the side: cheddar and some parmesan.

  4. Adam says:

    I’m glad Bryant’s came out on top. Brother Juniper’s is the only place in town that beats Bryant’s, or really even comes close.

  5. Robin B says:

    Jess, this is precisely why I won’t go into Bryant’s. Too busy, too hectic, too crowded! My husband picks up their biscuits for work quite a bit, but it’s not my kind of place. @jess

  6. Diana says:

    I’ve never been to bryant’s and will certainly try it the next time I want (ha, need) hangover food. and when I want a fancy and delicious omelet and a barista (or some of the delicious baked goods it’s known for!), cafe eclectic will be my first choice. I’m afraid this was an apples to oranges situation for me.

  7. Sosososo glad Bryant’s won! I usually get it when I spend the night with my sister to babysit for her. I can always count on her getting me a biscuit and some chocolate milk.

    Did you see the guy who works the counter that is a deadringer for Sid Selvidge? It freaks me out everytime I go in there.

  8. Lady Latte says:

    Just a lil more information re: Cafe Eclectic.

    Coffee: All of Cafe Eclectic’s drip coffee is fair trade and organic (Ruta Maya) which is a lil different from Folgers. Also, their espresso is Illy Italian Espresso… the only place serving it in the city. It’s the top when it comes to espresso. Every bean hand picked and roasted to perfection. Shipped from Italy in compressed tins to keep the freshness. A little more expensive than your average cup of joe but well worth the extra centage.

    Biscuits: Hand made and mixed from scratch every morning. Baked with care and love. The owners own family recipe… a little short on salt but they leave the adding of flavor up to their patrons so that these Heaven sent Biscuts are up to their patron’s own preferences when it comes to flavoring. They don’t want them to overwhelm the other breakfast choices but to compliment them.

    Bacon: Crispy yes, but available to your special order. Also special apple wood smoked bacon (which explains the flavor) different from most breakfast selections.

    Scrambled Eggs: Made every morning from scratch out of real eggs (not the powdered stuff) Mary’s known for her eggs because if done right they might be oddly shaped but are never dry and are always fluffy. The shape is because it’s easier to create a light fluffy texture by messing with them less. I’d give those high marks. Also, no salt or pepper added – this is so that they can meet all of their customers specific dietary needs or desires. Their eggs are my canvas.

    Pancakes: Are made from Delta Grind’s buckwheat flour, which can change their thickness. Another thing that effects their thickness are how soon they are made after the mix is done. Since the pancake mix is made from scratch several times a morning their fluffiness is always varying depending on timing. But scratch… not too many can say that.

    Grits: Yes delta grind and yes not much flavor, but also because the cafe seems to believe that how much salt each patron intakes is up to them. The texture is hit or miss and that would be a definite problem for them to look at.

    Service: Indeed hit or miss, and constantly changing and improving. Such are the ways of a new restaurant and restaurant owner.

    Atmosphere: LOVE

    Price: What most people tend to miss is that EVERYTHING at cafe eclectic is made from scratch and from the best ingredients the owner can possibly find… or afford. This of course raises their prices both because of their food cost and the extra labor that goes into every special plate that day.

    Thanks for your reviews! It was great to read and very helpful!

  9. admin says:

    Thanks for the info, Lady Latte. Admittedly, I added salt and pepper to the eggs and grits, but nothing to the biscuits. I’m not a big fan of gravy on my bread. 🙂

  10. Visitor says:

    I went to Bryant’s once and did not like the way I was treated. If you don’t have cash in hand they brush you aside; not cards policy. Better to go to a place with good customer service.

  11. Roman says:

    I love Bryant’s Breakfast

  12. Sam says:

    Hey Visitor, I have never had better customer service than I had at Bryant’s. They are wonderful! They do only take cash, which can be a pain. But you must know for small businesses, credit card fees are very expensive, and Bryant’s prices are great! Also, it is stated on the doors when you come in, so maybe you need to read a little better, and charge a little less!! ha ha!

  13. […] Hey Bryant’s? Watch yourself. Beignet Cafe’s biscuits were buttery, flaky, and completely amazing. (9.5 […]

  14. brennan says:

    Bryants is the best restaurant in the entire world. If any of you go there, up the street is an ice house. I own that and and a few more all over memphis. It is $1.75 for a 20lb. bag of ice, WalMart sells a 20lb. bag of ice for almost $4, not including tax. So come check us out the next time you order one of those hot Bryant’s biscuit’s on Highland, or call 901-385-9318.

  15. Perry says:

    I have not eaten at Bryant’s in years (moved), after reading this I am suffering from withdrawals and will be on the prowl for one of those cat-head biscuits… Is Kerry still the proprietor there?

  16. Ken says:

    I believe that Dino's Grill, which is down the street from Cafe Eclectic, is more comparable to Bryant's. Even though Dino's is considered an Italian restaurant, it has a little bit of a diner atmosphere, and that extends to the breakfast menu. Anyway, nice comparison.

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