The Boston Phoenix
April 23 - 30, 1998

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Renée's Café

Champion of breakfasts

On the Cheap by Rob McKeown

With a ramshackle exterior, wood-framed windows, and wicker-encased lamps, Renée's Café is every bit a roadside diner -- except for the fact that it's in Somerville. Even the mistakes are dead-on, like the table in the center of the room that has different coloring from everything in sight. But the real attractions here are refreshing renditions of morning classics. Boring old French toast is flavorful again when made from a baguette, enlivened with a vanilla-laced batter, and piled high with grilled bananas ($5.25). Same goes for a Mexican omelet ($5.50), which is served open-faced, with the peppers and homemade chili dolloped on top of the eggs instead of wrapped inside. If only the eggs Benedict ($5.75) came with some simple, buttered toast to soak up the Hollandaise sauce; instead, you get home fries with a month's worth of paprika on top. Does the cook have a fetish? It doesn't really matter in an atmosphere like this one. At least not to the bacon-and-eggs set -- mostly khaki-clad Tufts students and Globe-in-hand locals -- that frequents this place on weekends.

Renée's Café, located at 198 Holland Street, in Somerville, is open Wednesday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., and on Saturday and Sunday from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Closed Monday and Tuesday. Call (617) 623-2727.

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