East End Eatery is an absolute neighborhood gem - thanks to a couple of sweet apps on the iPhone as we passed through Gainesville, we got a taste too.
Last week, we set off on our little vacation-within-a-vacation, driving from Tallahassee to Orlando to overwhelm the kids with the sensory overload that is Disney. Our food in Orlando was decidedly third-rate (with the exception of a cute little breakfast place on the last day). Our lunch on the way there however, at a little out of the way spot in East Gainesville, rocked.
East End Eatery on approach is as plain as they come - a little cinder-block building with a microscopic parking lot, tucked in an out-of-the-way corner of Gainesville.
The minute you walk in the door, however, all that changes. Every detail here, and there are a lot of details, glows with the love and attention its owners have lavished on it. The restaurant is split up into 3 small sections - each full of art and a nice arrangement of light-wood Ikea tables and powder blue chairs. The light pours in from storefront windows. There is a huge and gorgeous play area full of books and a complete toy kitchen for kiddos.
The menu is simple - either brunch or lunch depending on if you're there on weekday or a weekend. I was there on a Sunday, and the menu was half a small page of pancakes, French Toast, and various configurations of eggs and toast.
I had the Eggs Benedict; as a family, we managed a taste of just about everything. And everything was simply on point. Tracy's strawberry pancakes, the daily special, were thin and slightly crisp, beyond delicious. They were the opposite of the dry spongy plate-filling diner standard, and tasted completely and perfectly home made. My dish came adorned with one of the lightest, freshest hollandaise sauces I've ever had - distinctly lemony and a perfect match for the poached eggs and crispy English Muffins. Poached eggs and English Muffins are of, course, par for the course for Eggs Bendict, but these were unusually fresh, unusually tasty. The sausage was flavorful in hand-formed patties, the bacon crisp, the coffee lovely and french pressed. As with the physical space, the care and attention that is poured into this food comes through shining.
I've been coming to Florida for close to 5 years now, just about every week. And no breakfast I've had in that time could hold a torch to this place. Truly fantastic.