Sometimes the best things in life are right under our noses. I worked right around the corner from O'Rourkes Diner for two years and never once stepped through the door. Big. Mistake.
Over Thanksgiving break, my dear friend Emily of AChangeofEatery and I planned to get together to catch up. When she suggested O'Rourkes, I was thrilled. I had heard so much about it from my time working in Middletown, and the thought of eating Irish-inspired food with my favorite Ireland traveling pal was too good to pass up!
I got there a few minutes after Emily and when I joined her, she was already cozied up to a huge mug of mulled cider. Laden with sweet apples and whole cloves, the first sip made me think of curling up under a blanket with a good book while fluffy snowflakes fall past the window.
Picking a drink was a no-brainer, but choosing my meal was a dilemma. O'Rourkes specializes in Irish-inspired dishes, but they have an extensive list of creative takes on breakfast, lunch and diner classics. Take their fried oatmeal (fried and topped with jam) or their babka french toast, or the Omelette of My Dreams (caramelized onion pesto, provolone cheese, topped with hollandaise and served with brown bread). After years of being a strictly scrambled girl, I recently discovered that I like eggs benedict. O'Rourkes has over 14 different variations on the classic dish, so it was tough to narrow down my choices. Ultimately, I let a name win me over: Irish Ecstasy.
The dish was just that--grilled colcannon topped with eggs & hollandaise sauce, served with corned beef hash and (my favorite) brown bread. The eggs were perfectly cooked, the colcannon was buttery and delicious. The brown bread took me back to my summer in Galway.
I left, stuffed to the brim, kicking myself for not taking advantage of this delicious diner while it was down the street. Luckily for me, I had the opportunity to come back over Christmas break. I brought my friend Elizabeth with me and raved to her about the menu outside in line as we waited to get in. (It's always a good sign when there's a line out the door!)
This time, I went for a sweeter breakfast--the banana bread french toast. Oh. My. Goodness. Freshly baked banana bread, dipped in an egg batter, cooked and then topped with Bananas O'Rourke (think Bananas Foster but with Irish Whiskey) and served with clotted cream and a slice of watermelon. I was afraid the banana bread would be dry, but it was moist and rich with a touch of cinnamon. The clotted cream balanced out the banana perfectly. I am drooling just thinking about it.
I should also mention that O'Rourke's was featured on Food Network's Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. If you watch this video below, you can actually watch Brian O'Rourke, the owner, make banana bread french toast. Watching it makes me want to hop in my car and drive the 200 miles it would take to get there.
So, if you find yourself in Middletown, CT, I implore you, GO TO O'ROURKE'S! The menu is incredible, the food is top-notch, the service is stellar. Take one bite of Irish Ecstasy or the banana bread french toast and you might agree...