Breakfast so frequently disappoints that it’s a special pleasure when a cafe delivers not just good food and great coffee but an all-around warm experience. Such is what happened when I stopped at Steampunk Coffeebar and Kitchen in North Hollywood on a recent Sunday morning. Owner Amy was at the counter making jokes about working in her sleep. I know the feeling.
With Amy’s guidance, I ordered the house specialty, called “The Stack.” This beauty of a breakfast consists of fried chicken, bacon and a fried egg perched on two fluffy Belgian style waffles drizzled with maple cayenne aioli. The chicken was lightly breaded, a little spicy, and nicely crisp. The gentle glazing of the maple cayenne aioli — just enough for flavor, not drowning – gave the dish a sweet/savory contrast that I enjoyed. On the side was fresh kale with onion, which balanced the plate out both visually and flavorfully. And it was a lot of food for $10.50.
But Steampunk isn’t just about good eats. This is a place that takes coffee seriously. Really seriously. In fact, the woman who roasted the beans was standing next to me as I ordered, and her husband was the barista behind the counter. Steampunk’s coffee comes from Belli Fratelli Roasters, a husband-and-wife business that buys organic beans from coffee cooperatives in Central and South America. I tried both the Mexican Mocha (double shot of espresso with Mexican chocolate; $4.75) and regular drip coffee. The mocha had a pleasing combination of the rich Mexican chocolate, a hint of cinnamon, and the deep espresso. The drip coffee was perfectly mellow and balanced. Not your everyday coffee bar coffee, by any means.
The full menu at Steampunk covers all the bases from dawn to dark. Savory options include a vegan burrito (potatoes, onions, red peppers, kale, greens, salsa, and avocado, served with homemade chips and salsa; $9;) s sesame chicken salad ($10,) and grass-fed burgers – the one I want to try next time I am in the area is called the “HMO:” Grilled onions, greens, and tomatoes, topped with habanero mushroom onion aioli and served on a brioche bun ($11.)
I also enjoyed the decor. Bright natural light illuminated the space, with dark wood tables and light green walls. By 9:00 AM, the place was busy, with a nice combination of people clearly familiar with Steampunk and each other mingling with a handful of people like me, who just wandered in. Next time will be deliberate.