Finding Good Bennies In A New York Minute
For a dish as ubiquitous as eggs Benedict, not many people know the story behind this ultimate brunch specialty. Haven’t you ever wondered, who in the world is Benedict?
I set out to find the answer to that food-history question, with some time set aside, of course, for delighting in a few unique renditions of the dish. But like the origins of so many classic menu items, the roots of eggs “Benny” are a bit fuzzy. One thing most sources agree on, however, is that it all started in Manhattan, sometime around the turn of the 20th century.
Eggs Benedict’s tale is one of fanciful and well-to-do New Yorkers dining in the most esteemed establishments of the day. As The New York Times reported, one story claims a wealthy stockbroker named Lemuel Benedict needed a remedy for a fun night out on the town, so he ordered some poached eggs on toast with bacon and hollandaise sauce while dining at Waldorf Hotel (now Waldorf-Astoria). Another version of history asserts that a Mr. and Mrs. Le Grand Benedict, regulars at the famed fine-dining establishment Delmonico’s, one of the oldest restaurants in the city, requested the dish’s signature mix of ingredients when looking to try something new for breakfast.
Regardless of which Benedict was the real inventor, we can all be grateful that one of them brought about a recipe that has thrived over the decades and inspired a slew of interpretations — including the yummy bites on these pages.
IL LUPINO TRATTORIA & WINE BAR
Italian eatery Il Lupino Trattoria & Wine Bar is owned by steak-house restaurateur Wolfgang Zwiener, who began his longstanding career in The Big Apple. It comes as no surprise, then, that some of his New York flair has made its way onto Il Lupino’s menu in the form of fine Benedicts.
One of the highlights of the breakfast menu is the Il Lupino Benedict ($18), which offers a delicious spin on the classic dish. Chef de cuisine Lawrence Nakamoto shares that the culinary team recently revamped its recipe and now uses a base of crunchy Pugliese bread, an Italian slice from the southern region of Puglia.
“It’s very light, and when you grill it, it gets a very nice crust, so it’s a really good vessel for something like the Benedict. It doesn’t get really soggy,” explains Nakamoto.
The chef also uses thick-cut bacon rather than Canadian bacon or ham for the meaty portion of the entrée, while fresh slices of avocado and Kamuela tomato brighten up each mouthful. To top it all off, house-made hollandaise does the trick.
Diners can enjoy a half portion of the Benedict along with a fluffy ricotta pancake, seasonal fresh fruit and coffee or tea in the Il Lupino Breakfast Sampler ($14.95), one of the eatery’s breakfast-combo specials currently available daily from 8 to 11. Other breakfast combos present a freshly baked croissant sandwich with ham, cheese, lettuce and tomato, as well as your choice of a hot beverage — latte (regular, coconut or macadamia nut) or tea (regular or hibiscus) — for $8.95. Or, try a simply delicious croissant with the same choice of beverages for $6.95.
Il Lupino Trattoria & Wine Bar
Royal Hawaiian Center, Bldg. B, level 1
2233 Kalakaua Ave., Waikiki
Since Orchids at Halekulani is best known by local patrons for its casually elegant Sunday brunch, I knew it would be home to a Benny worth trying. And just as so many premier restaurants have done over the years, the oceanfront dining venue has completely reinvented the breakfast staple with a fanciful seafood twist.
It goes by Poached Eggs on Alaskan King Crab Cake and Hollandaise ($22), a name perfectly telling of its star ingredients. The crab cake, filled with the most tender of crab meat, pairs so well with the customary buttery and citrusy egg yolk-based hollandaise sauce, you’d think they were meant to be together from the start. The dish does stick to tradition when it comes to the toasted English muffin and poached eggs, which perfectly round out this most satisfying selection.
“We wanted to feature a signature dish that included everyone’s breakfast favorites: poached eggs and crab. But to enhance the dish even more, we pushed it up a little and added King Crab,” says director of food and beverage Terry Hamada, when commenting on the inspiration behind the creative entree.
Diners will be happy to know Poached Eggs on Alaskan King Crab Cake and Hollandaise is available not only on Sunday, but every day of the week, and the restaurant also invites kamaaina to explore all of its breakfast, lunch, dinner and afternoon tea offerings.
2199 Kalia Road, Waikiki