Normally when I’m in Cleveland, my breakfasts involve a quick stop at Starbucks as I’m making my way to the office. This is due primarily to the fact that I have a tough time adjusting to the time zone, so wake up at the last possible moment and rush out the door. But, on this trip, I actually had a little bit of leeway on when I needed to be at the office, and I actually got some sleep, so I decided to head out to a place for breakfast. So, on the indirect recommendation of Michael Symon, I headed to Big Al’s Diner for some corned beef hash.
If it wasn’t for the recommendation, I probably never would have found Big Al’s, as it wasn’t really in my regular routes around Cleveland. And walking in, I’ll admit that I felt a little out of place. But that’s part of being a foodie, going where the food is regardless, and breaking out of my default comfort zone.
Al’s is definitely what you think of when you think of a breakfast dinner. A few booths on the side, simple tables in the middle, the older white flooring. And even though it was a weekday after a normal breakfast rush, it was bustling and full of patrons. I sat at a booth (seat yourself by the way, otherwise you are just someone hanging out by the door), and glanced briefly at the variety of diner breakfasts before deciding to just stick to the plan and order the corned beef hash with eggs overeasy and a cup of coffee. The coffee came out quickly in one of those really thick, white, diner coffee mugs, and was good for diner coffee. It was very mild compared to what I’m used to in Seattle, and it wouldn’t have surprised me to see a giant can of Folgers in the back.
When breakfast arrived, I was definitely hungry and dove in. I broke the yolks of the eggs to let the creaminess seep into the mound of potatoes, onions, peppers, and corned beef hash. The has was very good, and cooked in a way that it retained a lot of it’s texture without getting mushy like some hashes do. The peppers were nice and crisp, and the potatoes well cooked on the flattop. I should have ordered 3 eggs rather than 2 as there was not enough yolk for all of the hash, and those were my favorite bites because of the extra level of creaminess. The whole thing was a bit underseasoned (definitely needed some salt), and the peppers could have been cooked for a little bit longer as they were bordering on raw, but all in all, from a taste and texture perspective, this was the best corned beef hash that I’ve ever had.
I finished up, and paid my bill (less than $15), walking past a small crowd at the front of the door that had been waiting for me to relinquish my booth. I don’t know if I’ll have the opportunity in the future to go to Big Al’s again, but I’m glad that I took the detour. I got to experience a new place with solid diner food somewhere that I probably never would have been otherwise. All-in-all, not a bad way to start the day.