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I’m too big a boy for Aurora Breakfast, Bar and Backyard.
I’m not too old, though it can feel that way with all these whippersnappers running around the Plaza District with their hula hoops and their Dan Fogelberg records.
And the portions are just fine, too, despite my penchant for largesse.
No, I literally mean my physical dimensions are such that I feel as if I will knock over other people’s tables when I walk my Grimace-shaped body through the dining room. And that’s on me, guys. I’m the one who got too big to hug.
So I have to go on a diet. Which is really counterintuitive, considering the first thing I’d want to do when I slim down is go back into Aurora and eat myself silly. It’s like an O. Henry story, but much dumber and based on my own extreme lack of willpower.
It’s like the restaurant was built with people who have functional metabolisms in mind! Or don’t order three entrees for breakfast! Or...you know what, I’m starting to see the problem here.
But, for you, I squeezed into Aurora with my friend Ben and dug into the menu once more. We were not disappointed.
Aurora technically has two menus--one for weekdays, including breakfast and lunch, and one for weekend brunch--but most everything is available whenever. That’s the joy of a restaurant that does such a good job using ingredients for multiple dishes.
If you’re into a healthier breakfast, which I should be but am not yet, you might slide past the citrus vanilla cinnamon rolls ($7.50) and focus on the yogurt bowl ($7) or overnight oats ($7.95). I don’t kick it with many vegans these days, but when I’ve known folks rocking that specialized diet, the overnight oats (minus the honey) was always a favorite.
The oats soak overnight, rendering them gooey and chewy and verrrrrry hearty. Almond milk and orange blossom water, as well as a smattering of fresh fruit, give it the bulk of its flavor. If you’re cool with honey, as I am, I definitely wouldn’t shy away from it on this dish. That added sweetness is much appreciated.
But I’m a savory boy, through and through, so it’s little wonder that my attention soon wanders to Aurora’s excellent selection of biscuits.
First and foremost, shoutout to Aurora’s former chef Henry Boudreaux (now working on a taco concept called El Tigre) for those thyme biscuits. They are buttery and herbaceous and so very perfect. Honestly, Aurora could just sell the biscuits at the door and I bet they’d still make bank.
But! If you’re looking for something to put between your biscuits, I highly recommend the Pork n Biscuit ($12), which blends all manner of brunch-y delights onto one dish. The biscuits are, again, perfection. On top of that is sarsaparilla-braised pork, which has a mild sweetness that plays well against the yellow cheddar and sharp red onion of the dish. Add on a runny egg and hollandaise sauce for a big burst of richness and you’ve got a breakfast coma in the making.
I’m also forever enamoured with the Spin on Lox ($13), which pairs cold-smoked salmon with a dollop of whipped cream cheese, capers and red onion--all bagel all stars--before adding heirloom tomato jelly and a runny egg. This thing is a mess, but a delicious mess.
And, of course, the biscuits and gravy ($9) are a delight. The pepper gravy has a lovely pop of fresh-ground spice and scallions add a green bit of crunch. You can get it with an egg for an extra $1.75, but I think it’s just as wonderful without.
Despite being billed as biscuits, these really aren’t for picking up. Even the sandwiches are, to some extent, fully plate-bound.
Granted, anytime something is billed as “open-faced” you ought to get a knife and fork ready, as I did with the open-faced BLT ($10).
The open-faced BLT checks so many of my boxes, I think we might be dating now. Toasted sourdough. Crispy bacon. Tender greens. Heirloom tomato with pesto aioli and a runny egg. I think the menu was talking dirty to me.
Everything about this works. The bacon was perfect and the balance of the lightly dressed greens helped cut through all the richness. Same for the tang of the sourdough, which bounces off the egg yolk so well.
It’ll take a few months of hard work before I can squeeze into Aurora again. Or, you know, I’ll just wait until spring when the backyard portion is open again. Yeah. That’s probably a better bet than me losing weight.
The Oklahoma Pork Council represents the interests all of pork producers throughout the state, promoting pork and pork products, funding research and educating consumers and producers about the pork industry. Learn more about the OPC, find recipes and more at OKPork.org.