Grand Central Bakery will sell you a scrambled egg with cheese and a sausage patty piled onto a buttermilk biscuit for $7.25. Cherry Street Coffee will bacon and an egg on a bagel of your choice for $4.55. But Bernard's on Seneca, an old-school diner and bar beneath downtown's Hotel Seattle, will serve you the works: omelet, hash browns, and toast, for the nostalgic price of $5.50.
As the world around it has changed, and grandma's Yuban has given way to boutique coffee and quick-serve breakfast sandwiches, Bernard's on Seneca is a time capsule that feels preserved, not run-down. The staff is gracious and understanding; they may not be a commuter pit stop, but they understand their eclectic neighborhood clientele have to get back to work.
On a recent visit, a long table of regular businessmen - holding their holiday party, according to our server - were well into their whiskey and pale ale by 10 a.m., creating a vibrant atmosphere that practically insisted that I add a Manny's to my breakfast, which was already colorful enough, what with Technicolor cheddar and ketchup on my omelet competing for attention beneath the order of bacon that I plopped on top.
Bernard's omelets are the sort that you're not quite sure if they're made with more than the standard trio of eggs, or simply fluffed up so much that they feel over-sized. The bacon is average--crispy, just greasy enough, could stand to be a bit thicker. The toast and hash browns are standard-issue and satisfying. The coffee tastes like it was made by the ton at the beginning of the week. And that's pretty much the way you want it.
Gourmet coffee and trendy, albeit overpriced breakfast sandwiches have their place, but there's something comforting and a bit surreptitious about stealing away in the heart of the financial district to place where breakfast is functional, nobody cares what label is on the coffee pot, and you can get the works less than the price of a ferry ticket.