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Globe North Dining Out

A warm welcome, and breakfast at its best

Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff/file A Belgian waffle with fruit exemplifies the generous portion size.
Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff/file
A Belgian waffle with fruit exemplifies the generous portion size.

(Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff/File
)
November 15, 2009

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Ball Square Café
708 Broadway, Somerville
617-623-2233
www.ballsquarecafe.com
Open daily, 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Major credit cards accepted
Accessible to the handicapped

I have one gripe with Ball Square Café in Somerville: It’s too far from my home.

This is the sort of place I’d visit almost every weekend if it were in my neighborhood. It’s pleasant and comfortable, the staff is warm and welcoming, and everything I managed to sample was breakfast fare at its best.

That said, maybe it’s for the best that I don’t live closer. The portions are large, and it’s hard to select just one item from the many variations on eggs, Belgian waffles, pancakes, and French toast. Invariably I waddle out the door feeling very happy but also very stuffed.

I gravitate toward protein-rich breakfasts, and especially appreciated the generous omelets, bursting with fresh, flavorful ingredients.

From among many interesting options, it wasn’t easy settling on a choice. I ended up going global, sampling the Mediterranean omelet ($7.50) with red and green peppers, onion, tomato, diced eggplant, and feta, and the black bean salsa omelet ($8.50), filled with an atypical breakfast mix of corn, peppers, black beans, cilantro, onion, and tomato, topped with sour cream and cheddar.

Both were filling yet healthful, jam-packed with fresh vegetables. The black bean and salsa omelet may be a tad spicy for those whose taste buds are slow to wake up. The Mediterranean omelet, while delicious, was the first in recent years that I haven’t been able to finish.

For an unusual side order, opt for the grilled mashed potatoes, a brick-sized slab that’s crispy on the outside, soft and garlicky on the inside.

I’m not usually one to overdose on carbs at breakfast, but was glad I gave in to temptation. The special one recent Saturday, pumpkin pancakes with caramelized bananas ($8), was worth every calorie. Goat cheese and pears may sound like an odd stuffing for French toast ($8), but the pairing was perfect. Layers of tart cheese and paper-thin pear slices made this one hard to resist.

The Moroccan eggs ($7.50), identified as the chef’s specialty, was a seemingly endless portion of eggs, tomato, and red and green peppers, seasoned with cumin. Relatively light on eggs and bursting with succulent sautéed vegetables, it was savory and hearty. The avocado and tomato eggs Benedict ($8.50) was creamy and decadent, its size causing nearby diners to marvel. The grilled tomato was an especially nice touch.

Fresh fruit is available with yogurt, cottage cheese, or granola. While restaurant fruit salads are often limp and forgettable, this one - an impressive array including blackberries, mango, and papaya - was well worth the $6 (with yogurt) for a portion large enough for two or even three to share.

Ball Square Café has an unusual self-serve station for coffee, so you’re never left waiting for a warm-up. Not that the wait for service is ever long: On each occasion we ate there, our food arrived within 10 minutes of ordering.

It’s a good thing the service is prompt, because Ball Square Café only seats a few dozen lucky diners and lines form quickly on a weekend morning. For those who don’t want to be up at the crack of dawn, Sunday may be the better day: The line didn’t start forming outside until 9, almost an hour later than on the Saturday morning we breakfasted there.

STEVE BRADT

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