Remember when BJ's was just an overcrowded chain restaurant with a terrible parking lot in a scrunched up corner of Coburg at Willakenzie? Yeah, it seems like forever ago because the Gigantoplex that is the new BJ's fits in at VRC like kittens with YouTube cameras, I know. But hey, whatever happened to that strange little space it used to occupy over by Safeway and Dairy Queen and Sheldon?
Oh, right: It became the second wing of the Wild Duck Cafe franchise. The original Wild Duck is down by campus, and that, right there, is the reason I've never been. I'm getting old and cranky and I regularly tote 20 pounds of cranky old baby with me, so finding a parking space near campus and The Matt (sigh) that won't get us killed or make us want to kill anyone is too much effort. However, a new cafe in a familiar old place? Sure!
The bottom line is this: If you aren't eating breakfast at the Wild Duck Cafe -- and you're not, because I've personally checked -- then you're missing out.
But what are you missing? You're missing a ton of food. I mean, that's it. That's what I have to recommend about this place. Hey, maybe you don't care. You're not hungry. When you order, say, huevos rancheros, you want only about a 1/2 tablespoon of pale guacamole on your saucer-sized plate. You want just enough beans that you could count them up individually for your fitspiration blog, perhaps. That's fine. There are plenty of places for you to enjoy your morning meal.
If, though, waking up is a chore, and mornings -- particularly foggy mornings, or what we call "fall and winter" -- are something you must persevere through, then perhaps you should be fueling up a little better. Maybe you want that guacamole measured with an ice scream scoop, and you want cheese on it and under it, and you want a layer of spicy-hot chipotle salsa and enough eggs and beans to make a protein shake cry. Maybe you should order a garden omelette smothered in jack cheese to get you going, with a side of just-crispy-enough red potato wedges riding shotgun. Maybe you need some thick challah bread French toast drowning in syrup and berry juices. Maybe you need just a ton of coffee. Maybe you need to be eating at the Wild Duck Cafe.
The breakfast menu is what I'll call "Eugene standard," which means it has a quad offering of eggs benedict choices (including avocado with cajun tomato -- good, with buttery, good Hollandaise, but not heavenly like Studio One), pancakes and waffles with and without berries, scrambles, and a salmon dish (fish for breakfast. I'm not Northwest enough yet). Prices are Eugene standard, too: $8-$10 for the full plates, $2-$3 for drinks. You can get real maple syrup (and you probably should), but it will run you $2 extra.
I have yet to cut my teeth on their lunch and dinner options, many of which advertise local flavors and products. The menu looks good: I particularly like the idea of a "macaroni and cheese of the day," and I fully intend to try it sometime. The problem is, their breakfast is large enough that I end up eating half of it later, and then I'm not hungry for dinner. Or, maybe, I have trouble fitting out my front door. Heh.
You be the judge. Fly north, my ducklings. Support the local business that took over the chain business that's taking over the mall.
I'll end with something administrative: I don't have plans to wake this blog back up, really, but since it's here and since I still enjoy going out to eat, I figured I could put it to use again. Go eat!
Location: 1600 Coburg Road (corner of Coburg and Willakenzie).
Hours: Open at 8 a.m. daily. Breakfast through 11 on weekdays, 2 on weekends. Close: 10 p.m. weeknights and 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.