Eating Companion (EC) and I are strolling through Siesta Village, heading to Lélu Coffee Lounge, where some friends have promised to meet us for what they claim to be terrific breakfast, and decent coffee (and, apparently, some good cocktails during the more appropriate hours).
The Village is quiet this early in the day, but restaurants are opening up and people are out walking dogs and running and it all feels like the day is sort of winding up. After three weeks of just stunning weather, we’ve chosen the first hazy, bloodless sky under which to dine out on lovely Siesta Key.
Lelu’s decor has a schizophrenic quality, with lots of Hawaiian kitsch, vintage surfboards hanging from the ceilings, plush couches and seats, low, warm light, but also a bit of a rock and roll feel. There’s a portrait of Kurt Cobain on the bathroom’s hallway wall, and instead of “Gentleman” and “Ladies” the water-closets are for “Divas” and “Rockstars.”
The small menu is pretty interesting, with breakfast items familiar to EC and I from every Caribbean or Central and South American surf trip we’ve been on, takes on tropical favorites like huevos rancheros or spam and eggs, and also few more standard breakfast selections.
We order some coffee, which is in fact decent, a good mild roast without any wild highs or lows. Then: the American (two eggs, bacon, toast, oranges and red grapes, $7.25); a French Twist (two fried eggs, bacon, cheddar cheese on a croissant, side of potatoes, $7.75); huevos rancheros (two fried eggs, Cuban black beans, pepper jack cheese, diced tomato, onion and lettuce, all served on a fried tortilla, $7.25); the “Oh Yeah! It’s a Burrito” breakfast burrito (scrambled eggs, sautéed onion, peppers, and jalapeños, tomatoes, Cuban black beans, and cheese rolled up in a flour tortilla, $7.25); and an order of croissant french toast which claims to be served with Real Maple Syrup.
Outside we pull a few of the aluminum four-tops together to accommodate our party, and immediately we’re confronted with the brain-banging phenomenon of competing musics, as CCR’s “Born on a Bayou,” coming from Lelu’s speakers, collides with Stevie Ray Vaughn’s “Pride and Joy” from neighboring Gilligan’s. Not even the most talented DJ could make a decent mash-up of these two songs.
In time a waitress brings out our plates, the portions generous, the entrees well presented. The breakfast burrito is enormous, with more eggs than anything, and not a few jalapeños. The eggs are cooked perfectly, fluffy, light and delicious.
The French twist is a treat, super buttery and rich. The potatoes are a little mushy, but not terrible.
The huevos rancheros always run the risk of becoming a messy, sloppy, wet mess, if the beans are too watery and the eggs super runny, but Lélu’s are terrific, the beans pasty and smoky, the tortilla deep fried a crispy brown, and a house green salsa that is refreshing and light (they claim you will “never want regular salsa again!” and though that’s a little hyperbolic, the salsa is really good).
I keep having to go inside to warm up my coffee, and head in to freshen up my mug before diving into the croissant French toast, which has been taunting us the entire meal, all of us having agreed to save it for dessert. I sit down, prepare to dig in, only to realize there’s none of the promised Real Maple Syrup. I head back in, ask the waitress for some, which she is quick to provide a little jar of Dickinson’s. The French toast is pure indulgence, fried lightly and with a dusting of powdered sugar.
We’re finished, and decide to sit tight for a bit, enjoy some more coffee, relax. Paying the bill, I notice we’ve been charged an extra two dollars for the maple syrup, which is pretty frustrating, but it’s too inconsequential for me to get back up and head inside for the something like seventh time, and so we let it go.
Lélu’s is a nice little coffee lounge, definitely worth a visit, and we’ll definitely be back to try out the lunch menu, particularly the fish tacos.