Cut Rate Gourmet
Breakfast in the Time of Cholera
Bacon, Eggs over medium, Home style potatoes, Wheat Toast and Grape Jelly served with Coffee and Water.
This has been my breakfast choice for the last seven months. I don't know why it doesn't vary. I think it might have something to do with the fact that this would rate as a pretty good damn breakfast in the life of one my ancestors. The bacon was probably thicker then, the eggs fresher, and the bread just out of the oven and slathered with butter.
In any case, it's a hard dish to fuck up. It's been done, I know, but most cooks, regardless of their training and ability, should be able to do a passable job of it. I mean, I cook about as often as Joe Biden completes a coherent thought, and even I could eat the outcome of my efforts without gagging.
It's a breakfast that needs to be judged on its nuances, the texture of the egg yolk, the flavor of the potatoes, and thickness and crispness of the bacon. It helps if it's served with good coffee, and, in my judgement, if the establishment happens to have hazelnut creamer and serves butter with the toast.
There's also the matter of service. I have found that it has been pretty consistently good throughout. Most of the people who have served me during the lockdown seem to be trying hard to please. I prefer the local girls who greet me on sight and bring my coffee and water with the menu. I've also met a lot good servers out of town too.
The added factor nowadays is the total experience. We are living in a different world, but it doesn't need to be an alien experience, or one where we just have to accept whatever is being thrown our way. Some places go out of their way to make things familiar and others just go through the motions. The universe seems to jump in and help the ones who are trying.
Take today for example. I went to the Denny's and got seated next to pair of older gentlemen. I heard one of them tell the other, "This feller I know is a good old boy." He was dressed like my dad and this sounded like something my dad would have said. When the waitress came, he called her Hon and told her a joke where he played the fool. It was a nice moment to start my day.
I've decided to pass on what I've learned about eating bacon and eggs during the lockdown and to rate several area restaurants on the quality of their breakfasts in the process
Best Service - Tie - Reyna's and El Cap
Like I said, I'm partial to the locals. They are all nice ladies who know me and greet me by name, and they always treat my Mom, when she's with me, like a friend who they haven't seen in awhile. I also lose my glasses a lot and they always keep them safe till I return for them. On a couple of occasions, it has been my debit card that was returned
Best of all, they usually hand me my coffee almost before I'm even seated and ask me, "the usual, Mr. White?" That's pretty damn priceless in my book.
Best Ambience - The Patio Cafe in Fresno at the Fig Garden Village
I've always liked this place. Back before the Covid, I used to meet my daughter there for lunch. I was there this last Sunday, and saw a Jaguar luxury sedan pull out of a parking space and a Porsche 911 Carrera pull into the spot that just been vacated. That's not a sequence of events that you would see everyday in Corcoran. Throw in the fact that it was a handicap space, and you could safely say, that isn't something that you would probably ever see here.
One time, I overheard two retired college professors arguing over the state of politics in America while mixing in details of their many trips to Europe and Asia. In comparison, my brother and I were discussing which CNN news anchor that we wanted to throat punch the most. They have health food too, the real kind in case you have a picky daughter.
It is a little more expensive there, but the food is top notch and there are usually several beautiful people seated out on the patio. I don't want to throw my Corcoran peeps under the bus, but I'm talking supermodel beautiful. It's a different world, and in this day and age, it's important that we keep reminding ourselves that such worlds are still out there.
To make the trip even more special, I exit 99 at the southern end of Van Ness and drive right down the middle of Fresno to get there, from the first overpass where the homeless sleep to the beautiful homes in the Fig Garden area and then repeat the journey along different streets on the way home.
Most importantly, it's on my path to Barnes and Noble bookstore at River Park. My favorite part of the week is when I get home and sit down with a last cup of coffee to read the first choice passages from my most recent treasure.
Best Breakfast - The Lamplighter Grille & Bar - Visalia
I don't usually order hash browns, but it is the hashbrowns that pushes this breakfast to the top of the list. The chef there knows how to cook hash brown potatoes, and it ain't no secret that it involves the use of butter. The bacon is thick and perfectly cooked as is the toast, and they have great coffee too.
The surroundings doesn't hurt, as it is outdoors in a garden spot. Before the covid, I liked to come here on Sundays with my mom as there was usually an older crowd which means it is quieter and easier on the ears. The service is great too as they always had a great mixture of older waitresses with the personalities that comes with being in a service industry for years and fresh faced younger employees eager to please.
Runners-up - The Patio Cafe, and The Corner Cafe, Goshen Avenue SafeMart Center, Visalia
Both of these establishments are top quality, rating highly in every category. The food is great, the ambience is good, and the service is impeccable.
Bad Experiences - Black Bear Diner (Hanford and Visalia)
I hate criticizing anybody trying to make it work in these difficult times. But there is such a thing as trying to do too much to stretch a dollar as in not having enough wait staff to seat and serve breakfast in a timely manner. I know that they are trying and are having to adjust to things too, but it's still the same things that will keep you coming back as it was before the virus struck.
Places I Want to Try - The Red Apple, Fresno on Herndon, The Elbow Room, Fresno at the Fig Garden Village
On my way home from Barnes and Noble, I always see people lined up outside the Red Apple trying to get in. I always want to stop in and try it. The Elbow Room has guy playing the piano on the Patio on Sundays. I'm a sucker for a guy playing a piano on a patio. That's class.