What's not to love about French Toast? It's a breakfast staple. While the title of 'Best French Toast in Seattle' is certainly subjective, there's one spot that's always in the conversation: Geraldine's Counter.
"We are a breakfast and lunch establishment right in the heart of Columbia City," said co-owner Gary Snyder. "It's just a really warm, comforting approachable place to come in, socialize, have some great food and see neighbors and friends."
Geraldine's Counter, named after Snyder's mother, opened more than 15 years ago. It's become something of a community gathering space, the type of place where the staff greets regulars by name.
"I think you just bring that warmth to it and people want to keep coming back," explained Snyder. "This is a really diverse neighborhood, so we get people from all different backgrounds meeting here after church, or school, or after work and just hanging out. It's great."
Folks may come to the restaurant for the friendly atmosphere, but they stay for the food. The menu focuses on comfort classics like pancakes, omelettes, burgers and, of course, the signature French Toast.
"[Diners] love it. It's rich with butter and pure maple syrup. It's delicious," said Snyder.
So how does Geraldine's make its French Toast? What's the secret? Well, it all starts with really good bread.
"We use Macrina's Sour Batard and that's really where it starts," explained Snyder. "We slice it up, we marinade it overnight in half-and-half, cinnamon and sugar. Then, we sautés it in butter, throw it in the oven and it just crisps it up."
This dish definitely doesn't skimp on the butter, but that sauté, almost basting the bread, creates a textural triumph.
"I think it's very unique in that it has this wonderfully crunchy exterior and soft interior. You don't see that in most French Toast," Snyder told me.
The French toast is finished with fresh fruit (or a fruit compote of the day), powdered sugar and a drizzle of maple syrup. I can confirm, it's a pretty great way to start the day.