Simply Marie’s is a little breakfast nook tucked away in Canton at 3023 Elliott Street. It specializes in the Most Important Meal of the Day, in all of its diverse and delicious glory, from the simple muffin and coffee to a full-blown ultimate lumberjack’s breakfast of steak and eggs and everything in-between.
Marie Branch, owner, manager, head chef and greeter, says the line, when she opens for business at 2 a.m., can go out the front door even in the coldest weather. The favorite breakfast of the closing-time crowd is the egg, sausage and cheese croissant with a side order of home fries.
When the door opens, half of her large flattop grill is occupied with sizzling sliced potatoes. “People can wait for almost anything but not the home fries,” she laughs.
A progression of people comes in through the night as Marie dishes up eggs, pancakes, waffles, bacon, scrapple and other breakfast necessities to neighborhood folk, truckers, construction crews, insomniacs, travelers and others who find themselves up early. She is open Tuesdays through Sundays, 2 a.m.-12:30 p.m. She says she takes on extra help weekends for the opening rush and Sunday brunch.
We wandered in at 10 a.m. or so on a Friday morning to the small, spotless storefront eatery. The decor is spare and comfortable. People who want to eat in sit at a counter that runs on both sides of the room. There is a serve-yourself retro Coke cooler on the south wall, and the order counter is in back, with the kitchen behind it. It’s an open kitchen, so Marie can chat as she cooks.
Here is what we learned while we feasted on an excellent omelette ($7.50 for a platter) and Belgian waffles ($5.50):
1. Marie makes an excellent omelette and Belgian waffles. The omelette is soft and perfectly cooked with a big wedge of melty Cheddar inside, and the waffles are crisp outside and lovely and soft inside. The grits that come with the omelette are quite loose and slathered in butter in the Southern fashion. With a dollop of blueberry pie filling and lots of whipped cream, the waffles are heavenly.
You can order your omelette with all kinds of add-ins from peppers, feta cheese, mushrooms, spinach, crabmeat, shrimp, you name it.
2. Marie makes excellent coffee, strong and black without being bitter.
3. Marie is strong her ownself. When the Patterson Park Community Development Corp. went bankrupt, vaporizing her down payment on a former bakery near the Patterson Park library, she picked herself up, dusted herself off and started all over again.”I have never seen a penny of my money again,” she says, “but you can’t let that stop you.”
She found another former bakery on Elliott Street, scrubbed and rehabbed it with the help of family who are in the business, and opened up a month ago. She already has a line going out the door on weekends.
4. People who still mourn for Sham Da’nai, the chicken-and-waffle place in Greektown, take note: Simply Marie’s serves chicken and waffles as an occasional special.
5. Vegetarians, celebrate! Simply Marie’s sells vegan bacon and vegan sausage, Egg Beater omelettes, fresh fruit salad, soy milk and other New-Age treats.
6. For carnivores, there’s corned beef hash, sausage and gravy on homemade biscuits, SOS and eggs Benedict. For the grab-a-coffee-and-go crowd, there are homemade Texas-sized muffins, enormous iced cinnamon rolls, danish, homemade flaky biscuits and faux super-sized Hostess Ding Dongs. You can’t beat that for breakfast.
by Jacqueline Watts