Austin, Texas is a breakfast town. In fact, the only thing the people of Austin love more than Herculean-sized hunks of smoked brisket is the breakfast taco. Almost nobody can argue with eggs, chorizo and salsa verde wrapped up in a warm flour tortilla. And those that do argue need only need to take one bite of the stellar tacos at local favorite Torchy's to understand their glory.
Leave it to enterprising Austin chef/restaurateur Larry McGuire (Jeffrey's, Josephine House) and his chef de cuisine Greg Garwood to introduce a viable alternative: The breakfast BÃ¡nh MÃ¬.
At Elizabeth Street Café, Garwood's menu effortlessly straddles the line between classic, fussy French and crowd-pleasing, accessible Vietnamese. Since Austin diners are obsessed with breakfast tacos, Garwood decided to reinvent the classic French-Vietnamese sandwich, BÃ¡nh MÃ¬, for the morning meal. "Every little store in Austin sells breakfast tacos," explains Garwood. "It's really nice to get away from that a little bit and turn people onto something else with the BÃ¡nh MÃ¬."
So what does Garwood, a New Englander, know about breakfast sandwiches? A lot. "I ate breakfast sandwiches relentlessly growing up," recalls Garwood, "We would go for a spicy venison sausage on a buttered, grilled English muffin with eggs and American cheese." As he got into his teens, the ingredients changed slightly-he introduced poached eggs and prosciutto and a spicy zucchini relish his family made.
It was a natural leap to merge these egg-based sandwiches with traditional BÃ¡nh MÃ¬ ingredients. When it comes to Elizabeth Street Café's breakfast BÃ¡nh MÃ¬, Garwood keeps things pretty simple. Like any sandwich, the foundation starts with the bread. Garwood explains that you want baguette with a bit of crust to it, which plays nicely against the soft, gooey texture of fried egg and the juicy house-made ginger-pork sausage. Then comes the richness of avocado and mayonnaise, the heat of spicy jalapeÃ±o and sambal hot sauce, and the refreshing, herbaceous finish of cilantro and mint leaves.
In short: it's the Franco-Vietnamese sandwich that a breakfast town like Austin deserves.