On weekday mornings, waitresses bustle between tables with pots of hot coffee, and arms full of steaming plates. Five of them have each been with Jeffery's Restaurant for 30 years, and they greet numerous customers by name and with hugs.
Jeffery Walsh began bussing tables in his father's business, Golden West Pancakes, working his way up to vice president and general manager of the 18-restaurant chain. In the 1970s, he set out to differentiate his restaurants from competitors Denny's and IHOP by moving away from industriall packaged foods. Gravy should be made from the drippings of roasted beef, he thought, vegetables should be fresh, and soup should not come from cans. And so he set out to design a new menu. It was so well done that his chowder soon won second place at the annual Clam Chowder Festival.
When the restaurant corporation dissolved, the Walsh family established Jeffery's. Jeffery (affectionately called Pancake Junior) cooks and runs the restaurant, choosing quality ingredients over least expensive ones. His stepmother Rose still does the books.
Jeffery's offers numerous side dishes with breakfast combinations. Choose from cottage fries, hash browns or fruit, and biscuits, pancakes or toast. The Fajita Skillet ($9.45) mixed eggs with marinated chicken, black beans, fresh bell peppers and onions, was topped with melted cheese. The side of spicy house-made salsa was flecked with cilantro. The seasonal bowl of fruit included crisp, tart green apples, melon and fresh pineapple. Two huge, hot buttermilk biscuits, baked fresh every morning, had an almost velvety texture.
I also enjoyed Cinnamon Raisin Supreme ($7.95). Four pieces of cinnamon-swirled French toast with plump, juicy raisins were served with warm Mrs. Butterworth's syrup. An entire sliced banana ($1), and four pieces of top quality bacon, thick and chewy, made the raindrops outside seem much less gloomy.
At lunch, sandwiches also come with a selection of sides, breads, and cheeses. The green salad, a mixture of iceberg lettuce, baby greens, cucumbers, carrots and seasoned croutons, was huge. The thick, tart, house-made 1,000 Island dressing was amazing, with a rich, Louie-like flavor. House-made soup of the day was creamy corn chowder with carrots, potatoes and broccoli.
Grilled Cheese and Ham ($7.95) included sliced tomatoes and a thick slice of smoky, grilled meat enclosed in a fresh French roll. The popular Cold Meat Loaf Sandwich ($7.85) was served on multigrain bread with extra ketchup and deli-style pickle slices. Savoring the inch-thick slab of finely-ground beef transported me back to the playground, where a waxed paper-wrapped sandwich called to me from a Mighty Mouse lunchbox.
Jefferey's, 2050 Soquel Avenue Santa Cruz, 425-1485. Beer and wine. Open 24 hours, except Sunday midnight to 6 a.m.
Just over the hill, the Professional Culinary Institute in Campbell trains chefs, hospitality managers and master sommeliers, and also offers weekend cooking and wine classes, and kids and teens day camps.
On Saturday Jan. 23 (10 a.m.) and Wednesday Jan. 27 (6 p.m.), you're invited to an open house. Just visit their website to RSVP.
700 West Hamilton Avenue, Suite 300, Campbell, 1-866-318-CHEF. Visit
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