Rise also shines in downtown Mystic
Good things come in small packages, and my most recent proof is Rise in Mystic. You might have to wait for a table at the small breakfast-and-lunch café on Water Street, but it’s worth a small delay for the locavore dishes that await the patient diner.
With one look at a recent lunchtime BLT ($10.50; comes with a bag of Deep River Chips), I knew I was in for something special. The "T" was an orange heirloom variety that was as delicious as its summertime brethren, with all the right citrus notes and pliable texture. Served on lightly toasted Italian bread, ample bacon, vibrant leafy greens, and an excellent aioli tinged with lemon turned a lunchtime basic into an enjoyable meal and my first recommendation.
Don’t do bacon? Then consider the Caprese Sandwich ($11.50; with chips), also served on pillow-soft Italian toast. You’ll get that same fabulous heirloom tomato, plus spinach leaves, fresh mozzarella, and very, very good pesto, which adds a lemon-garlic zing to the deeply flavorful basil. All parts merge into a robust and hearty sandwich that is teeming with flavor. This sammie can get a little messy, so grab napkins and tuck in. It’s worth it.
Visitors will see many great options on both the lunch and breakfast menus at Rise, but don’t overlook the Sides list, which offers an intriguing selection of meal accents. Some are smaller portions of regular menu items, so if, say, you don’t want to explode after scarfing down an omelet, you can just order one buttermilk pancake ($3.50) instead of a full stack ($10). The menu describes the pancakes as creations made from “Farm to Hearth Milled Grains,” and you will taste what that means right away. The dusting of powdered sugar on top is all the sweetener I needed, and it didn’t cover up the excellent wheat-y flavor of what was a sizable serving of pancake. With just the tiniest bit of crispy bits on the sides, we enjoyed a bit of texture to accent the thick, soft interior.
The biggest hit from the Sides menu, arguably, is the House-Made Brisket Hash ($4). Hash can go wrong in so many ways, but thanks to excellent prep and ingenuity in ingredients — you won’t believe what parsley does to a beefy hash — Rise elevates a diner classic into something special. It’s very filling, tender, and a wee bit greasy, so if other dishes are going to accompany it, share it or take some home. Or enjoy the best of both worlds with Rise’s Hash and Eggs breakfast entrée ($13; includes two eggs, toast, and homefries). Two birds, one stone.
Homefries are also available as a side ($4), and these are no ordinary spuds they’re slinging. You know those scorched lumps of greasy potato some places serve as homefries? Rise’s version is the opposite. They actually taste like: potatoes! Sauteed to perfection — crispy on the outside and super soft and almost creamy on the inside — with light onion-y flavor, you’ll likely find yourself eating every last one of them in a serving. We sure did.
In the name of science, the mister paired his breakfast sandwich with a side of homefries — just to make sure we agreed on their quality. But do note that items off the Breakfast Sandwiches menu don’t come with homefries. As for the sandwich, he picked The Classic ($6), constructed with a local egg, cheddar, and sausage on an English muffin (ham or bacon available, too). Sounds basic, right? Well, it’s all about the details, which included excellent, tender and nicely seasoned sausage and crispy edges of cheddar overrun beyond the muffin’s border. This sandwich is what an Egg McMuffin wishes it could be.
All future iterations of my go-to omelet order — cheddar and tomato — will be judged against Rise’s ($8; includes one choice of filling; others available for a small charge; comes with homefries and toast). It was a thing of beauty, bursting with those beautiful orange heirloom tomatoes nestled in a velvety cocoon of perfectly rendered egg. The tomatoes softened up in the pan a bit, which added a perfect layer of zesty tomato flavor and toothy — but not too toothy — texture. The cheddar took a backseat to the tomatoes, and it was a wise choice to let them emerge the star. Still, cheese always makes everything better, particularly when paired with good toast, and Rise’s pumpernickel-rye was certainly up to par.
Make your breakfast even better by trying out the freshly squeezed OJ ($2.50 for a small; $5.50 for a large). It’s everything one should demand in their orange juice: sweet citrus balanced by slight tang and soft pulp that doesn’t distract.
I have never been a morning person. The term “rise and shine” is something to which I cannot relate. But once you’re in the door at Rise, you can’t help but do both.
10 Water St., Mystic
Cuisine: Classic breakfast and lunch dishes with locally sourced goodies
Atmosphere: Cozy and kitschy, with a small counter and a handful of tables; note the framed shoutouts from various publications on the walls.
Service: Very efficient and pleasant
Prices: Not cheap for the fare served, but the quality makes up for it. For perspective, though, the most expensive item on the regular menu is the Turkey Club at $12.50. A recent omelet special — one filled with kielbasa, kale, and cheddar — came in at a hefty $16.
Hours: 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Wednesday-Monday; closed Tuesday
Credit cards: Yes
Handicapped access: It's close quarters inside; parking is this area of Mystic is tricky; small step to gain entry
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