Local treat: Juno Beach’s guitar-fueled Sunday brunch

When it comes to brunch spots, this is not the most pizzazzy. There’s no Bloody Mary or Mimosa bar. There’s no ocean view or lush garden.

A tot pours maple syrup on his Sunday pancakes. (Liz Balmaseda/ The Palm Beach Post)
A tot pours syrup on his pancakes. (Liz Balmaseda/ The Palm Beach Post)

Still, there’s a line that stretches into the parking lot as the sun glints on passing traffic along U.S. 1. And there’s a sweet guitar weaving Sunday morning tunes, some standards, some bluesy, some folksy.

Related: Our Brunch Guide – 50 must-try ‘Sunday Funday’ parties in Palm Beach County

It wouldn’t be Sunday brunch at the Juno Beach Café without guitarist and singer Jordan Lee, who says he hasn’t missed a Sunday morning gig at this daylight café for the better part of two decades. He’s not a “look at me” type of entertainer, but one who gently enhances the ambiance.

Jordan Lee, a singer and songwriter, entertains brunchers. (Liz Balmaseda/ The Palm Beach Post)
Jordan Lee, singer and songwriter. (Liz Balmaseda/ The Palm Beach Post)

The attention-grabbing stars here are the “UEPs,” the stacks of “Uncle Eddie’s Pancakes,” which are some of the most popular items on the extensive breakfast menu. Last Sunday, I pondered the eight pancake options offered here (from $5.99 to $8.99), from Nutella-slathered UEPs to Banana Nut Loads of Walnuts UEPs, and settled on a stack of plain originals, which fixed my pancake craving just fine.

Uncle Eddie's Pancakes, the original UEPs. (Liz Balmaseda/ The Palm Beach Post)
Uncle Eddie’s Pancakes, or UEPs. (Liz Balmaseda/ The Palm Beach Post)

The pancakes join the heaps of French toast, eggs, meats, breakfast skillets and other morning dishes spirited from the café’s kitchen.

Within that extensive menu are some true gems. The potato pancakes, for instance, are killer. Patted of shredded potatoes and onions, these thick and toasty latkes are offered in a combo ($10.29) with two eggs, bacon or sausage and a choice of applesauce or sour cream.

The toasty finish that elevates these potato pancakes also can be found in any side of hash browns here. Not too long ago, I enjoyed those with a spinach-tomato-cheese omelet, rye toast and bacon. And on another occasion, I had them with Eggs Benedict. (Breakfast joy: crispy potatoes that don’t ooze fat onto your omelet.)

Toasty hash browns are on point here. In background: potato pancakes. (Liz Balmaseda/ The Palm Beach Post)
Toasty hash browns are on point here. In background: potato pancakes. (Liz Balmaseda/ The Palm Beach Post)

Beyond potatoes and pancakes, menu highlights include migas ($11.19), a Mexican-style scramble with eggs, beans, peppers, avocado, corn chips and several other whims. There’s also chicken and waffles that are served with poached eggs and hollandaise ($11.29), cheese blintzes and apple crepes ($9.99), pecan praline French toast ($6.79, $8.79) and six types of Eggs Benedict ($9.99 to $12.49).

Service is harried and as friendly as one can expect during a Sunday morning bustle. But servers do their best to keep your mug hot and filled with fresh-brewed coffee.

And then there’s Jordan Lee, the gentle guitarist. He fills in the gaps of ambiance and service at brunch time. He provides that thread of a melody you may catch while waiting for a table, the raspy rendition of Johnny Mercer’s “I Remember You,” perhaps.

The regulars here have come to learn Lee’s own songs, like the one he titled “Cruise for Two.” It floats on a light reggae beat and can transport a breakfast patron eastward, across U.S. 1 and toward the sea:

“Hey, there’s a place where I’d like to be/ Sailing the ocean, from sea to sea,

“Jamaica island, Bahamas too/ No crowd of people, just me and you,

“Spending time together, just me and you/ On a cruise for two.”

Juno Beach Café: 13967 U.S. Highway 1 (at Donald Ross Road), Juno Beach; 561-622-1533; JunoBeachCafe.com

Hours: Open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.

 

New on Clematis Street: The Dispensary diner and soda fountain

The Dispensary, West Palm Beach. (Contributed)
The Dispensary, West Palm Beach. (Contributed)

The Dispensary, a daylight eatery and soda fountain, has opened on Clematis Street in downtown West Palm Beach. The retro-hip spot is located inside the Center City Pharmacy, where The Vegan Café briefly operated.

On the menu: hefty breakfast dishes, including four types of Eggs Benedict, shrimp and grits, huevos rancheros, chicken fried steak, smoked salmon on bagel, waffles and biscuits with gravy. Lunch offerings include chickpea soup, potato soup, tons of fresh salads, burgers and sandwiches (BLT, prime rib, cheddar-Gruyere grilled cheese), various sides and daily specials. Soda fountain favorites, like shakes and sundaes, are served as well.

“People are loving the food,” says co-owner Christian Wiebel, a local restaurant veteran who most recently worked at the now-closed Garage VV in Northwood.

He opened the new diner with partner Gregory Galgano on Sept. 1 as an intimate, 45-seat eatery.

“We want to add more tables, but we want to start small, with a chance to grow. For now, we want to keep it small,” says Wiebel.

Clematis Street's newest diner has outdoor seating. (Contributed)
Clematis Street’s newest diner has outdoor seating. (Contributed)

Hours: Open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., with the full menu offered till 5 p.m. (From 5 to 7 p.m., soda fountain items, croissants and packaged salads are offered.) Open Saturday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.; closed Sunday. Hours are expected to expand in season.

Online ordering is available.

The Dispensary: 416 Clematis St. (inside Center City Pharmacy), West Palm Beach; 561-990-2555; TheDispensaryWPB.com

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Goodbye grub: Blondies diner closes in Tequesta

The blondes: Courtney and Meghan Conran, shown here in September 2014. (Bruce R. Bennett/ The Palm Beach Post)
The blondes: Courtney and Meghan Conran, in Sept. 2014. (Bruce R. Bennett/ The Palm Beach Post)

Blondies, the Tequesta diner that fixed many a breakfast-for-dinner craving, has closed.

Sisters Meghan and Courtney Conran, the blondes that inspired the diner’s name, opened the strip-plaza eatery in September 2011. They served a menu of dishes inspired by family recipes, such as the “Beezy Cakes” flapjacks named for their cousin Bridget and their Grandpa Bill’s Monte Cristo.

The sisters posted a note on the diner’s website, saying they were unable to agree to new lease terms on the space.

“We want to thank everyone for supporting us throughout the years and giving us the best customers we could ever ask for,” said their note. “We are actively seeking a new location, so be on the lookout for a new Blondies in the future.”

Related: Goodbye, grub – Closed restaurants in Palm Beach County

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