Brail’s Restaurant
1689 Willamette St
Eugene, OR 97401
(541) 343-1542

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Eugenified.com rating: 1 vote, average: 3.00 out of 51 vote, average: 3.00 out of 51 vote, average: 3.00 out of 51 vote, average: 3.00 out of 51 vote, average: 3.00 out of 5

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What more could you ask for in a breakfast place?! Brail’s has the feel of a well-worn diner. It’s located in a funky student rental area of Eugene. It pretty much specializes in breakfast food, although they do have plenty of other items on the menu. It’s known by UO students as the best place to recover from a hangover from last night’s big dorm party. It’s even got a Korean-lady-on-speed owner who watches over the daily operations like a…uhhhh…Korean lady on speed. Sounds pretty good, right? Well, let’s slow down a bit and take a closer look…

OK, first the decor. Let us first clarify the difference between a “good ol’ diner” and an “old diner”. The “good ol'” version may be an old place, but it is well-kept and uses some long-lasting materials like stainless steel, thick tables, and sturdy chairs & booths. Even when it gets a little worn, it still has a solid feel. An “old diner”, on the other hand, has a 1970’s kitchen furniture feel to it. The fittings were cheap when purchased new and have gone steadily downhill from there. Brail’s is somewhere in between the two, falling short of the “good ol” badge of honor but still a notch above “old”, a.k.a. crappy, a.k.a. rural meth lab. Would be nice to see the speed-y owner replace worn items in the future with more sturdy good ol’ versions.

The kitchen is also a “middle” result. It’s falls short of professional, clean, and well-organized. But it’s certainly better than most college student kitchens. Call it a semi-professional, semi-systematic restaurant kitchen. Hopefully that will be enough to avoid salmonella or E. coli bacteria and their related “explosive” problems. (Hate to be so graphic, but this really is a big problem with lots of the unprofessional, a.k.a. quaint, a.k.a. hippie, restaurants in Eugene).

[Public Notice: The use of “a.k.a.” is now officially out of control, a.k.a. gone off the tracks, a.k.a. gotten annoying.]

The food: Using the terminology of a bank-issued Letter of Credit, the food at Brail’s “purports to be” diner food, and really, it does come close, i.e. it purports pretty convincingly, probably convincingly enough to be accepted by your bank against a Letter of Credit. Eggs, hash browns, sausage, coffee, etc…how far off could they really be? (OK, Holiday Inn Express’ eggs are REALLY far off. They should not be called eggs at all, but rather “pleggs”.) You get what you order at Brail’s. So what’s the problem?

First of all, the quality of the raw materials is not first grade. Basically, you get fresh eggs but pretty much everything else is cafeteria-grade stuff. So the hash browns are clearly frozen from a box, the coffee comes out of a big five pound paper bag, and the sausage is marked “meat product”. Most of this stuff has brand names like “Regal” or “Chef’s Choice”…and after eating it, you won’t be badly disappointed, but you’ll also get the feeling the chef was under some tough budget pressure when he made his choice.

(Just to be clear, I have to admit that I made all of that information up. I have no idea what brand of wholesale ingredients Brail’s uses or what the packaging looks like. I may be totally wrong. But the point is that it tastes like the way I described it.)

Second problem is serving size. What’s the problem in Eugene restaurants with serving size?! Gimme a friggin’ big ol’ plate o’ breakfast food! Ideally I should not be able to see any plate surface except around the outside edges. This is not only a problem at Brail’s. Studio One, Ye Olde Pancake House, and Cornocopia all have this same sparseage problem. The only place I have found in Eugene that serves proper (big) size breakfast servings is The Cooler. [Reader here to insert snarky comment about the writer probably being vastly overweight]

As for the Korean-lady-on-speed, she is really the highlight of the place. Sometimes annoying, usually entertaining, you just can’t get enough of her. In fact, you really have no choice but to listen to her every word since SHE TALKS REALLY LOUD. Sometimes she plonks right down in your booth to take your order and to offer some big juicy smiles and heaps of sincerity. I completely fell for it. But then I overhead an older woman ask the Korean-lady-on-speed how she keeps herself so upbeat and friendly, and the Freudian-lady-on-speed responded, “I just fake it most of the time.” No kidding. I did not make that up.

So, in the end, Mr. Eugenified (me) gives Brail’s (how do your pronounce that? Is it Bray-l-s or Bri-l-s or what?) 3 stars. Not great, but not bad. As is the case for most 3 star places, I would probably eat there again if I was in the area and it had been six months since my last visit.

Eugenified.com rating: 1 vote, average: 3.00 out of 51 vote, average: 3.00 out of 51 vote, average: 3.00 out of 51 vote, average: 3.00 out of 51 vote, average: 3.00 out of 5

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