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Wednesday, November 5,2008

Good morning

Troppo offers new reasons to skip snooze

by Joe Torok
Troppo's fritata features whipped eggs, spinach, portabella mushrooms, tomatoes and feta cheese topped with a tangy sauce and served with fresh fruit. (Joe Torok/City Pulse)


Breakfast in Lansing recently got a little bit swankier. The always-classy Troppo, one of downtown Lansing’s culinary gems, spent months preparing a breakfast menu created by executive chef Jason Keusch that combines classic favorites, healthy alternatives and just plain good eats.


At Troppo, it’s clear that quality is job one, and breakfast, now served 7:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday, is no different. “We have the luxury of working with fresh ingredients,” says general manager Andrew Bossler.

Bossler boasts that nearly 100 percent of the items on Troppo’s menu are made from scratch, a culinary virtue in rapid decline. “Nowadays, it seems like more and more restaurants simply want to take the easy way out and work with prepared products,” he says. “We strive to use from scratch ingredients, from local sources, as much as possible.”

The biggest difference in cooking breakfast, says chef Randy Wright, is speed. “Everything’s a lot quicker,” he says. “Everything cooks so much faster than, say, a steak or dinner entr'e.”

Customer demand is what prompted the menu expansion, and the majority of patrons are looking for a meal before they check into a long day of work, whether they perform endless clerical duties or run the state government. But attracting diners from beyond the daily grind is a goal. “We’ve responded to the need,” Bossler says. “We’d love to see the community fill in a little bit, the people who live around this area who might not otherwise come out unless they were working down here, but the largest demand comes from the business community.”


The Downtowner ($9.75) is perhaps the most popular morning meal, Bossler says. Velvety smooth veal sausage, two cooked-to-order eggs, wheat toast and grilled hash potatoes topped with smoked cheddar cheese, along with fresh fruit, makes lunch almost entirely unnecessary.

The frittata ($9.25) (essentially an open face omelet), also served with fresh fruit, packs a tremendous amount of flavor. Spinach is whipped with eggs, with portabella mushrooms mixed in before being topped with tomatoes, feta cheese and a tangy balsamic tar, a sauce made from a reduction of balsamic vinegar and sugar.

The French toast ($8.25), with bread from the locally owned Great Harvest bakery, is a filling treat. It’s impossible to remain sleepy after biting into a pocket of sugar and cinnamon, a sweet bite of gooey goodness that screams to be accompanied by a steaming cup of coffee.

Want steak and eggs? Try the marinated London broil ($12.95). Something lighter? The breakfast wrap ($9) combines eggs, Canadian bacon, creamy Gruyere and grilled potatoes wrapped in a spinach lawash (flat bread similar to a tortilla) with a schmeer of lemon aioli, a garlic and olive oil sauce.

For the health conscious who want a bright start to the day, Troppo has strived to be creative in its approach. Vanilla yogurt with granola, slivered almonds, strawberries and dried apricots and topped with a citrus gravy ($6.95) should fit the bill. Or perhaps those watching their waistline might try the steel-cut oatmeal ($6.95), a less refined version of the ever-favorite cereal that retains more of its healthy properties.

What Troppo does right, by any measure, is commit to quality, and, that, in turn translates into satisfied customers. “We can only do so much before they come in the door,” Bossler says with a sly grin. “But after — that’s our responsibility. We try to leave them with a smile.”

Troppo. 101 S. Washington Square, Lansing. 7:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday & Tuesday, 7:30 a.m. - 11 p.m. Wednesday-Friday, 4 p.m.-11 p.m. Saturday. (517) 371-4000. www.troppo.org.

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