Geraldine's Counter in Columbia City looks like a happy, easy place to get a bite to eat and it is. They don't put up any false promises with their outside appearance. There are big windows along the front and it sits on a corner, on the same block but the opposite side of the street from the Columbia City Bakery. They are the quintessential neighborhood restaurant and with good food, open for breakfast (served all day), lunch and dinner.
The breakfast menu offers a lot of delicious sounding options, both sweet and savory but without the typical make your own omelette or scramble section. Instead they stick to the classics with a few interesting options thrown in. The Avocado and Pepperjack Omelet was fantastic. The egg layer wasn't too thick, complementing but not overwhelming the contents of the omelet. The generous dollop of salsa fresca and sour cream on top adds that wonderful contrast that comes from mixing fresh, creamy and cooked in one delicious bite. It comes with classic hashbrowns and a thick slab of delicious toast.
The pancakes were thick and fluffy and a beautiful golden brown. They had a nice sweet flavor to them and a soft, airy texture. They are sprinkled with powdered sugar and served with the classic silver container of syrup. These are comfortable, soothing, happy pancakes.
Their Sweet White Corn, Havarti & Herb Scramble is also served with hash browns and toast. The hash browns and toast were fantastic but the scramble seemed a little flat. All three ingredients were so mild that it blended together into a dish that didn't have much to say. There was an herb added to it, dried thyme (it seemed), but it came across as an afterthought trying to fill in for the lacking dish. The ice tea (pictured above) was flavorful, a beautiful color and served in a giant glass that they keep refilling until you leave.
The service has always shown itself to be consistently friendly and prompt. We were always seated as soon as walking in the door and they would bring crayons and paper for my kids when they were along. The ice tea or coffee was refilled with enough regularity that they never reached a half empty state. And the food came out fast but not so fast that you worried stuff was pre-cooked. It is a busy diner, so I imagine the food and service will sometimes falter, like we all do on occasion, but I found enough consistency in the food, service and ambience to wish it was within walking distance from my home in Capitol Hill.