On the Hill Cafe Review

After a whirlwind weekend of errands, chores, and catching up, my aunt and I exhausted ourselves over the course of her weekend visit. Waking up tired and chilled by a cold front that dipped temperatures into the mid 50s, breakfast was the first and only order of business for the morning. 

Though I’ve had some good breakfasts around town, I seized the opportunity for one more excursion off campus and selected On the Hill Cafe, a restaurant that has been on my to-do list for awhile now. This cafe keeps it local with locally sourced items and efforts to minimize their environmental impact while maximizing their impact in their Bolton Hill neighborhood.

The siren song that ultimately drew me to the cafe was the possibility of Sweet Note Bagels once again brightening my morning. While I’ve sampled their plain and everything varieties (see review post here), the fall weather had me in the mood for their latest and greatest flavor: pumpkin spice. All of their bagel varieties are gluten-free and vegan.

Arriving a couple minutes before opening, I was excited to see Sweet Note pride on the cafe’s door. Not the first to be standing outside the cafe on the brisk morning, the small, cozy space quickly filled with a mixed bag of families, students, and others lining up for their breakfast offerings of bagels, eggs, coffee, and more shortly after opening. After the initial rush died down, I placed my order for a toasted pumpkin spice bagel with scrambled eggs on the side for some added protein. 

When the bagel arrived several minutes later, couldn’t wait to finally get my taste of fall’s favorite flavor. After snapping a quick picture for the blog, I took my fist bite. Distinctly dense and chewy as Sweet Note bagels uniquely are, I must admit that I could not really distinguish a strong pumpkin flavor. Sweet with notes of cinnamon, I questioned if I had been given a plain bagel by mistake but was assured that this was the pumpkin spice variety. Although the bagel itself was good, it was a little underwhelming as I had had high expectations going into the breakfast. Honestly, I’m still not 100% convinced that the bagel was a pumpkin spice, but I hope this experience was the exception, not the norm. Sweet Note’s pumpkin spice bagels can be found at other locations around the city and state (see those here) and can be ordered online. I hope I can give them a second chance in the future.

Hailing from Springfield Farm in Sparks Glencoe, MD, the farm-to-table scrambled eggs were also good, but not great. Plain as they were, I wished I had some pico de gallo or Old Bay seasoning to add some flavor. I did like how the eggs were cooked to a brown crisp on some edges which gave them crunch and flavor. 

I loved the warm and welcoming vibe of On the Hill Cafe and the hustle and bustle of the morning rush. It was the perfect setting for a final breakfast with my aunt before she headed home and I hit the books. As much as I wanted to rave about the breakfast, it ended up being a little bit of a letdown after I had built up my anticipation so high. Due to the distance from my college and accessibility challenges, I probably will not be paying a return visit, but would still recommend it to locals and visitors seeking out a breakfast bagel in Baltimore. You cannot go wrong with Sweet Note Bagels- they’re the real deal.

The Basics

Address: 1431 John St, Baltimore, MD 21217
Website: onthehillcafe.com
Cuisine: Farm-to-table American fare featuring bagels and eggs for breakfast and burgers and sandwiches for lunch and dinner (with gluten-free buns).
Price: In the chaos of the crowd, I did not catch the price of my breakfast. All breakfast offerings listed on menu are under $7. 
Accessibility: The restaurant was hard to access with a wheelchair. With assistance, my chair could be lifted up the step into the main restaurant but there was no accessible restroom and space was limited.
Special Features: Orders can be taken online for carry-out or groups.

Disclaimer: This review is based upon the information I have at the time of the review and does not reflect changes in ingredients or availability of items. Please contact the restaurant directly for up-to-date information and feel free to contact me with any questions or comments. I was not compensated for this review and it is a reflection of my personal opinion.

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