ReLocavore: Redefining "local"

Back to Wisconsin, my cheesehead friends


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This week in Breakfast: Mickey’s Roadside Cafe

You know it’s “roadside” since I’m standing in the road to take this photograph.

This week’s breakfast at Mickey’s Roadside Cafe in Enfield, NH  (link plays music… sorry) was the opposite of last week’s experience: good food and bad service.

For a moment I want to rant about the new maps in iOS6. I am an “eager upgrader”-I sit at my computer obsessively pressing reload until I can get the latest iOS updates AS SOON AS they are made available. I really like the feeling of having a shared experience with other people across the world where we all are downloading and installing the same piece of software. The point being – Like other iOS users, I am finding the world around me is a new place, when seen through the eyes of the map software on my phone. Now, my phone will talk to me and tell me where to go, but I no longer have any confidence that where I’m directed reflects realty. It was my quick wits that kept me from going the wrong way down a one-way street in Hanover, and I still can’t convince the map software that our home address is anywhere near proximate to our physical location.

Back to breakfast…

We got in the car and made an attempt to goto Enfield, NH, about 10 miles southeast of Hanover, to a place called Mickey’s Roadside Cafe. It had received good ratings from the Yelpers, and we had got a good review from a former waitress while in line at The Fort last week. Phone navigation was failing us, so we resorted to old-fashioned maps to get to Enfield.

We didn’t have to wait for a table to eat breakfast at 9:30 on Sunday morning. This can say either good or bad things about a restaurant. Too many people means breakfast is likely to be good, but very rushed. Too few people means breakfast may be new to the restaurant or downright bad. Or, it means the Packers are playing at 10am and nobody wants to watch at a restaurant that doesn’t serve alcohol. Sam and I try a bunch of different times to eat at a restaurant until we find the ideal time where we can sneak into a table or first-come-first-serve counter space, then watch from our vantage while all of the less-experienced and knowledgeable customers arrive on the hour or the half and wait in line for tables. While not waiting for breakfast at Mickey’s Roadside Cafe was a plus, we didn’t get the feeling of moral superiority for being able to get to the restaurant at the perfect time to avoid a crowd. (Hubbard ave Diner in Middleton. Either 8:25 or 8:50am. Lazy Janes: be in line when they open at 9:30.)

 

I’m not making this name up.

Since the Patriots (no comment) weren’t playing until 4, I suspect breakfast was new to this restaurant, because the food was pretty darn good. Sam had hash and eggs with homefries and sourdough toast. He was quiet while eating, so that meant it was good. The potatoes needed a bit more cooking from my vantage point. I got to have “redneck benedict” – english muffin, sausage patty, poached egg with sausage gravy – with a side of tater tots. The gravy was good. It was peppery and had small pieces of sausage, and was made with milk. I was very happy. With tater tots.

Sam’s breakfast.

The service, on the other hand, was mediocre. Sunday breakfast servers (and Saturday too) need to act as if they are just as desperate and hungry as the patrons. Stopping to drink coffee, to nibble a piece of toast, to chit-chat with other staff – these are all the actions of the fed and caffeinated. Breakfast patrons DESPISE the fed and caffeinated until they themselves are fed and caffeinated. Waitresses should be efficient and expedient, not ask unnecessary questions, and deliver caffeine as soon, or before, butts hit the seats. I really feel for Sunday breakfast wait staff and I always tip well, even for bad service. Their job is hard. They must ease the transition from hungered to fed, and to navigate a slew of breakfast option questions that are unheard of in other meals. (How would you like your eggs: scrambled, poached, sunny side up, over easy, over hard, egg beaters, hard-boiled, coddled? What type of toast: white, wheat, rye, sourdough, cinnamon raisin? Potatoes: homefries, hashbrowns, mashed, tater tots, fries?)

Redneck Benedict. With Tater Tots. A side of parsley.

The service at Mickey’s Roadside Cafe made two sins: they made people wait for caffeine (including Sam and I and the table across from us) and they chit-chatted among themselves while sipping coffee. I hate to damn someone for such minor sins, but at the time, I was HUNGRY, so minor things get exaggerated. In retrospect, the service was on-par with a restaurant that doesn’t often serve breakfast beginning to serve breakfast. The wait staff have yet to develop the ESP necessary to be good at breakfast. By the end, though Sam and I were both well-fed and didn’t feel rushed. The bill was $23 and some change, right on par with our expectations for what we “should” pay for breakfast.

We’re quickly running out of affordable ($$) breakfast joints, so we’ll be moving onto the more pricy options in the next few weeks. I’m sure there will be a carving station and lobster at breakfast in the upcoming weeks. We’ll see…


Previous Breakfasts
Lou’s in Hanover
The Fort in Lebanon


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This Week in Breakfast

To continue on our quest for Breakfast (previously) this morning we headed down the hill to The Fort at Exit 18, a truckstop diner just off exit 18 of Interstate 89.

Previous reviews have spoken highly of the hash and the muffins. I also have a fondness for biscuits and gravy, so we tried those too. The muffin was a “morning glory” with carrots, raisins and apples. It had frosting on top… hmm.

We had to wait in line for about 15 minutes for a table. And by “wait in line” I mean stand around in a truckstop convenience mart that is attached to The Fort while chatting with the grey-haired locals who have been eating here regularly since they were our age. I didn’t see many truckers. We bought a copy of the New York Times and browsed the front pages while waiting.

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The best part of breakfast was that we had a waitress with ESP. Her timing was PERFECT on all items. We closed our menus and put them on the table and she apparrated out of thin air to take our order at the precise second the menus touched the table. The instant I had an anxious thought, “When will our breakfast arrive?” she appeared with a muffin. I took the last sip of my coffee and as the cup was about to be placed on the table, she was there! – with a coffee pot to refill my empty mug. I thought to myself, “Did we get the check yet?” and VOILA it appeared on our table. Maybe this was Hogwart’s Truckstop of Witchcraft and Wizardry. It became eerie. But made breakfast really pleasant. Her timing was perfect and we didn’t feel rushed at all, which is important on Sundays.

The food, on the other hand – not as perfect. The muffin, as predicted, was great, but the frosting (yes frosting) was unnecessary. The hash was definitely homemade, and more brisket than potato. I like my hash pretty crispy, so this needed a bit more cooking, and a shake of salt made it more balanced. The biscuits and gravy was weird. First, the sausage came from slices of links, which left little rounds  in the gravy. Second, the biscuits tasted sweet. Seriously. The gravy had separated a little and had lots of visible pepper, but no actual pepper taste. It was also made from chicken stock and milk, not all milk.

So overall, the hash is good, but needs salt. Knock the frosting off your muffin. The service is amazing. The overall breakfast was worth the 15 minute wait.

Other breakfasts have been:

 


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I ate doughnuts for breakfast

Sam and I have to find a new place for breakfast. This is not an easy task.

Ever since I was young, I have went out for breakfast on Sunday mornings. While living with my parents, we would drive to the Sand Burr in Broadhead, WI, or to Lakeside Lounge in Durand, IL. Mom and I would split an order of gravy and biscuits. The Sand Burr had terrible gravy. In college, we got to have luxurious and long breakfasts in the Commons where we could have hot items, eggs to order, waffles and pancakes, cereal and fruit. After a brief hiatus due to poverty, I started going to Hubbard Ave Diner about the time Sam and I were engaged. Every Sunday since Summer 2006, Sam and I have been at the counter around 9 am. We order the same thing every week because our brains aren’t awake enough to make decisions. He has the quiche or the scrambler special. I have veggies benedict with no hollandaise sauce (100 cal PER TABLESPOON!)

So, moving to Hanover, we had a big problem to deal with: Where are we going to eat breakfast on Sundays?

For the first couple of Sundays we were staying at a hotel that had a free hot breakfast every morning, so our breakfast was pre-paid. But, now that we’re in our apartment we suddenly have to ask ourselves on Sunday mornings, “Where are we going?” and, also importantly, “What are we going to eat?”

This Sunday we went to Lou’s, the “breakfast institution” in downtown Hanover. It’s a standard pancake-eggs-potatoes type place, but they emphasize the use of local produce and meats. They have about 15 tables and a counter with first-come-first-served seating. The queue was about 15 people deep, but everyone in line was congenial and talkative. They must have gotten a cup of coffee somehow. Our wait was maybe 10 minutes. The line moved fast.

Their menu was varied and interesting. I typically order of breakfast specials when I’m somewhere I’ve never eaten before, so I got the apple fritters french toast with applesauce. All local apples! Sam ordered an omelet with pears, gorgonzola cheese and leeks that came with potatoes and toast.

So “fritters” apparently means “doughnuts.” I was expecting something like the apple fritters from Greenbush Bakery but instead I got basic fried doughnuts. The “French toast” part was that the doughnuts were cut in halves, dipped in sweet egg, and fried on the griddle. There were THREE of them. Plus some really excellent chunky applesauce that was tart and not too sweet. I don’t know what I was expecting, but whatever this was, it was really good. Pidi and I did a two-hour hike on those calories later in the afternoon.

Next week, I think we’re going to try Lou’s nouveau next-door-neighbor, Market Table or the truckstop down the road, The Fort. Look for a post next Sunday.

Note: this post was composed Saturday, Sept 29, 2012 and backposted to Sept 23, 2012.