Very near my apartment, which is out of the way from Collegetown proper, and right next to Maplewood Apartments is the Coal Yard Cafe, which exist primarily to serve the Coal Yard apartment complex. Having passed by there several times, I decided to give in to my curiosity and bring my friend in to eat breakfast here.
The breakfast special today was the cremini mushroom, ham, and cheese omelet. It came with multigrain (and thankfully free of nuts) toast and a cup of mixed fruit. Already, I can tell you for that combo, a tab of $5.50 is impossible to argue with. For a similar meal, you can expect to pay twice that at Stella’s.
The omelet itself was classically American, oozing with American cheese. It was a nice change of pace from the Mediterranean omelets I normally make or the really meaty omelets I tend to get at other restaurants.
The Coal Yard Cafe seems like the closest thing you have to a mom-and-pop establishment near Cornell’s campus. For that reason, I have felt a level of intimacy with the restaurant that I have not anywhere else in my life. Also, the omelet had a very distinct homemade quality to it (Isn’t it funny how restaurants want to make food that’s homestyle but frozen foods want to be restaurant style?) which is always a good thing. My sentiment with this regard may have come from the fact that as an employee of Robert Purcell’s Community Center, I saw what the “scrambled eggs” that were served to the poor freshman souls actually were and thus I wound up with a phobia of scrambled eggs that I only recently got over.
With that in mind, Coal Yard Cafe is basically Ithaca’s hidden gem. It’s out of the way from basically anything, be it Collegetown, downtown, or East Hill, and thus doesn’t get a lot of traffic. However, if you’re a grad student living in the Maplewood Apartments, then you have no reason to hike all the way to Stella’s for brunch when you can get something that is very good for half the price.
The verdict: The homiest homey breakfast I have eaten outside of home