Walk into the Old Fort Lauderdale Breakfast House and the irresistible scent of sweet pancakes and smoky bacon wafts from the kitchen. The only thing old about the eatery is its 1925 building; the place opened six months ago. It’s a go-to spot for breakfast, but there are also burgers, mac and cheese with mahi, fish sandwiches with grits and lunch specials like meatloaf and corn chowder.
Owner Rodney Ely grew up in Kansas City and spent summers on his grandparents’ Iowa farm, where breakfast was made from scratch and served at the crack of dawn. When his dad invested in Fort Lauderdale-based Bare Sailboats, he began coming down to work on boats and ended up staying. He learned the restaurant ropes after opening a fish house in the 1980s.
His chef is Aaron Johnson, a native of Lafayette, La., who put himself through college working at Brennan’s in New Orleans and studied culinary arts at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale. Johnson uses of Florida free-range eggs, milk with cream on top, fresh seafood and seasonal produce such as tomatoes and dinosaur kale in his dishes.
Breads (mature-yeasted white and whole grain) from Grand Forno Bakery down the street star in breakfast sandwiches like the gargantuan BLT with raspberry mayo. Tender, cake-like, plate-size buttermilk pancakes are baked in a cast-iron skillet in the stone oven cranked to 650 degrees and served with real maple syrup. Choose from pineapple-pecan, banana or blueberry.
Poached eggs are smothered in hollandaise on wilted spinach and toast. Flaky biscuits bob in pools of sausage gravy. There’s also tomato-based seafood stew with catch of the day and spicy black bean soup. A cup of Arabica coffee is heavenly with mango shortcake and whipped cream or a walnut muffin.