In a word: Dining with elan and ease.
The specs: #0328
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; reviews at Mr. Breakfast, Yelp, Badger Herald, Madison Brunch, Daily Dadio, Simpson St. Free Press via The Cap Times, Ayos Living ReArrangements, 77 Square, Madison Dining Online, QSC, Mad Hungry, At First Taste, pics by Daveo and nataraj_hauser,
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JM ate the Works - 2 eggs scrambled, potatoes, ham, and English muffin - with a large apple juice.
John ate the SCC - scallion and cream cheese scramble - with a coffee and a blueberry scone.
Nichole ate a special - a scramble with artichoke hearts, spinach, and portabella mushrooms, plus potatoes and raisin toast - and a small whole milk cappuccino.
We took a lemon cream scone and a chocolate croissant home.
The bill was $32, or $10.67/person, plus tip.
We all gave Lazy Jane's an A- (see our grading rubric).
Local opinions of Lazy Jane's seem to fall into two camps: those that love it to death, and those that find it utterly overhyped. While we won't necessarily fall into the latter, the former are, we think, too quick to judge. Lazy Jane's fills a niche (the gentrified diner) quite well and any neighborhood would be proud to have a breakfast place like it.
The "neighborhood" part, however, is critical, though. As with so many destinations in the Willy St. area, parking is a bit of a challenge. If you can walk or bus, so much the better, and you'll earn the approbations of the locals.
The place was hopping already at 9 on a Sunday. The "lazy" in the name comes from the order process, where you place your request at the counter, sit down, and wait for them to yell your name so you can pick up your food - and we had the perfect amount of time in line at the counter to examine the regular menu as well as the five or six specials. Ringing up our order and claiming the we owe $1,000,000, the counter staff deserves mention for their joviality. Tables turn fairly quickly so right after ordering we were able to sit down with our coffee, juice, and scones and enjoy the kitschy but very clean ambience (no eBay dust here).
Incidentally, the specials that day were wheat berry French toast, a chorizo scramble, cherry pancakes, and a compelling but ultimately intimidating Reuben scramble. The menu is replete with vegetarian options. Even the sandwiches looked interesting, but those were too early for us (or, conversely, we were too early for them).
The scones at Lazy Jane's live up to the hype. The lemon cream scone was huge (weighed in at 5 ounces back at the ranch, even after nibbles had been excised) and had a bright, sunny flavor and light texture. The blueberry scone, while not as stunning, was also very good. Somehow the chocolate croissant made it all the way home, and as an afternoon snack was delicious - not the best ever (that distinction probably goes to Cafe Soleil now that Francois' is closed), but a generous quantity of good chocolate chips melted into the base of a buttery roll is hard to argue with.
On the other hand, Nichole could have taken a pass on her cappuccino. It, too, was big - too big - served in a tall mug instead of a shallow cup, and the foam had an oddly crisp texture. (To his credit the barista had made the drink very quickly.) John's house coffee was pour-it-yourself and he was able to doctor it the way he liked with all the trappings of a coffee shop. Together our coffee experiences showed where Lazy Jane's has a leg up on greasy spoons, but isn't quite as good as a full-blown coffee shop.
Nichole's asiago, artichoke heart, spinach, and mushroom scramble was very filling and not at all greasy. She couldn't really taste the asiago; the mix seemed to be heavy on the artichoke hearts and light on the spinach, given the leafy green's propensity to disappear when sauteed. The side of potatoes was unremarkable, though the pepper on the table had an interesting zing (maybe that was just our shaker, though?). Finally, the raisin toast was decent, and only one of about 9 tempting bread choices.
JM's breakfast was a little overdone. The ham was dry, and the muffin was burned in parts (a generous spread of butter helped.) His pint glass (woo(f)!) of apple juice was tasty. All added up, the flavors were good and the portions were decent-sized.
John's scramble was good as well. It had never occurred to him to melt cream cheese into a scramble, but the cheese tied i(t) all together in a nice way. The sourdough rye toast came well-recommended by the staff.
Overall, Lazy Jane's felt comfortable but not quite homey; the kitsch was cute but John thought the atmosphere trumped the food. The coziness, decor, efficiency, and general quality were most impressive to us and deserved to be hailed. Likewise the staff were very friendly and there were lots of them - constantly moving bus tubs and washing up dishes (by hand, at the front of the house). A peek into the kitchen showed lots of activity and smiles and maybe even someone JM and John knew from church camp 10 years prior, which just added to the small-world feel of Lazy Jane's as a Madison icon.