(Editor’s Note: the following is my failed attempt to become one of 10 fantasy football writers for Grantland. I thought I had a pretty good chance of moving on to the next round and was therefore entirely devastated to find out that not only did I not make the grade but also failed to receive some sort of conciliatory message from ESPN. Congrats to the chosen few. May your 2012 fantasy season(s) be full of peace, joy, and Phillip Rivers.)
“Don’t Forget To Tip Your Waitress”
There’s this diner I like to frequent that serves the best breakfast food on the East Coast. On weekend mornings I cozy up to the counter and find myself a comfy stool right next to the chief of police and that weirdo organic yogurt farmer who always smells like the dairy aisle at the local supermarket. I want to ask when the last time he showered was but that might lead to a lengthy discussion on probiotics, which, not surprisingly, should be avoided at all costs.
Lots of my friends who aren’t as familiar with this particular diner as I am ask me about what they should order and I always tell them the same thing that a breakfast is a very personal thing. My favorite items on the menu might not necessarily match up with other peoples’ personal preferences, but that’s ok. A little healthy discourse over food choices can lead to some of the more entertaining, time consuming conversations for folks looking to escape the grind of a 9 to 5. It’s not uncommon at my diner to find a group of patrons arguing over the menu for hours after close. I get the sense that some of these guys are simply looking to avoid heading home to see their families.
In any case, my typical Sunday brunch always starts with a tall cup of coffee (1), usually equipped with an extra shot of espresso to give my weekend morning the kind of kick-start it requires. That’s the thing about this diner brew, the upright packaging is incredibly unorthodox for a premium blend coffee but the more you have the more productive your morning becomes. What was once an underrated diner coffee has now received multiple chamber of commerce awards including a 5 year contract to become the primary coffee of all town rotary functions and bingo nights.
Next comes the hard boiled egg (2), which at my diner is the linchpin to any successful breakfast. One thing I love about this particular item is that the exterior is incredibly hard to crack. You can roll the shell on the counter for a good 25-30 rotations, including a few swing passes to your neighbor and the darn thing will not crack. The greatest fear that all of us who enjoy the hard boiled egg have is that because the diner relies so heavily on this particular item that one day the chickens are going to break down and no longer be able to provide such a reliable compliment to any breakfast, hot or cold.
If you ever visit my diner you have to order the mega-sized plate of hash browns (3) that will have you tiptoeing down the sidewalk. Occasionally this plate full of potatoes comes of the skillet so hot that it burns the accompanying onions which were meant to cover these hash browns but inevitably end up falling shamefully to the ground only to be swept up by the bus boys. Because these hash browns enjoyed such a big year last fall, a lot of customers will urge you to stay away from this dish for fear that they can’t possibly replicate their success this season. Screw it, when you find food as dominant and physically imposing as these hash browns you have to stick with them.
After the hash browns come two eggs, sunny side down (4). I find that the extra shade is good especially when you can’t always count often out of stock orange juice to take some of the heat off the eggs.
I like to top off my ideal meal at the diner with a nice fresh grapefruit (5), which by my count has already won multiple awards including citrus championships in New Orleans, Houston, and Jacksonville. The grapefruit is perhaps the most polarizing item on the menu, drawing praise from the locals and the ire and jealousy of out of towners. These fruits are so prolific that they were once blended with a strand of oranges from Brazil to produce the most beautiful citrus offspring on the planet. If you want to be surprised by the potency of the grapefruit, try a little sugar (S), a new item on the menu that was falling to waste in a warehouse in St. Louis.
So that’s it, my Sunday breakfast at the local diner. It’s your prerogative to agree or disagree with these food choices. In fact, the disagreements are what keep people coming back to the restaurant year after year.