Breakfast At Oliver's

Oliver's Bistro has occupied the South Beach corner of West Avenue and Ninth Street for about eight years now. The occupation has been a quiet one -- when is the last time you read about Oliver's Bistro? -- but residents of this mondo condo neighborhood (and a surprising number of foreign tourists) know the place quite well. Most of the outdoor tables and chairs (under bright orange umbrellas) are filled with locals throughout the three meal periods, although the indoor dining area sees more action this time of year.

It had been awhile (years) since I stopped in for breakfast, so I did so relatively early one morning last week. If you're thinking about croissants and pan au chocolate, you've got the wrong idea -- Oliver's calls itself a bistro, but it's really more of a coffee shop with diverse dinner menu. Which makes it ideal for breakfast. If you get there before ten (it opens 9 am every morning but Friday), the air is still cool enough to enjoy patio dining and a peaceful vista -- mostly of people walking their dogs.

Oliver's "All American breakfast" brings two eggs any style with home fries, white or wheat toast, and choice of bacon, sausage links, or ham ($8.95). I went with over easy, wheat, and bacon, and everything was cooked just right -- the eggs perfectly soft and runny, the home fries ribboned with sauteed onions (note to owner: get coarse black pepper grinders or shakers for the tables and dump the finely powdered stuff; it'll make your food taste better).

With a cup of standard coffee shop coffee ($2.50) this meal isn't any bargain, but South Beach doesn't have a whole lot of al fresco breakfast spots away from the Ocean Drive/Lincoln Road tourist areas. Service is friendly and efficient under the watchful eye of veteran manager Herbert (who has been here since the start). Plus the outdoor section is pet-friendly. Next time I'm going to bring my Gila monster.

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