When Derek’s parents came to visit us last weekend, one of the meals we enjoyed was brunch at a local diner, Metro 29. I’ve wanted to try this diner out long before we moved to the neighborhood and especially after seeing it on an episode of Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.
One of the dishes that was featured on the show was the French toast. Now, I’m mostly an eggs, bacon and potatoes type of customer at a good old fashioned diner. But this French toast looked amazing.
When we went last weekend, I was thisclose to ordering the French toast, but alas, got my usual (2 eggs over medium, bacon, and hashbrowns). But not to worry! Both Derek and his mom got the French toast and I was able to steal some bites. And seriously. It was delicious! I had major entree-envy going on.
Metro 29 bakes their own super dense challah bread and then slices it extra thick for the French toast. While the bread itself is kind of heavy, the custardy inside is super tender and even light. Since we went to the diner, I’ve been thinking about French toast and knew I wanted to make some at home. Here’s my take on the Barefoot Contessa’s recipe, using challah bread from another local spot, Heidelburg Bakery.
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon good honey
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 large loaf challah bread
Maple syrup, for serving
In a large shallow bowl (I used a 9×13 casserole dish), whisk together the eggs, milk, orange zest, vanilla, honey, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Slice the challah in 3/4-inch thick slices. Soak as many slices in the egg mixture as possible for 2-3 minutes on each side. Heat 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon oil in a very large saute pan over medium heat. Add the soaked bread and cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until nicely browned. Fry the remaining soaked bread slices, adding butter and oil as needed, until it’s all cooked. Serve hot with maple syrup. To keep warm while cooking in batches, place the cooked French toast on a sheet pan and keep it warm in a 250 degree oven.