The late Sunday breakfast: a well-deserved repast to help the body refuel and the mind realign from the rigors of the previous 48 hours. We weekend warriors count the days to Friday, anxiously anticipating the glimpses of adolescent grandeur that malted hops and other party enhancers will reveal to us as we try to forget that we're pushing 30. The penance, of course, comes on Sunday morning when, sawdust-brained and gravel-throated, we make our weary way towards the solace of biscuits and gravy, greasy eggs and plenty of hog, all washed down with coffee, endless iced teas and tall tales of the weekends adventures.
Me: “I don‚t know what happened. One minute we're doing shots at the bar, the next I'm walking out the door with her.”
Me: “And? I think I came on to her or something, maybe trying to kiss her-very blurry.”
Marc: “Oh yeah, stumbling, bumbling,”
John: “Is that why I saw her running, looking all scared?”
Me: “Alright, alright...”
Waitress (giving us a “boys will be boys” smile and shrug over our sheepish grins): “You ready to order?”
The Menu serves all the breakfast favorites-omelets full of fresh veggies, meats and cheeses; pancakes and their French and Belgian cousins; Midwestern classics like steak, pork chops or chicken fried steak with eggs-but the choicest selections are the Mexican-American crossovers. Chorizo with eggs, huevos rancheros and machaca with eggs are our staple selections, each overflowing as they battle the home fries and re-fried beans for space on the plate.
A café-diner amalgamation, The Menu offers the ease, soul and prices of a diner, sans battle-axe waitresses, with the spend-all-day-bullshitting ambiance and service of a café. The coffee plays a fevered revelry upon our nervous systems, and our minds, in their never-ending search for order, attempt to scrape the opaque layer of haziness from blurred memories.
Jim: “Jesus, my temples are pounding.”
Me: “You've got to expect that when you pass out next to a door. Every time someone new came in the house, the door slammed you in the head. You'd wake up and mumble some Chewbacca-esque nonsense and then right back into fetal position.”
Jim: “Thanks for moving me, bastards.”
Me (doing my best Chewbacca): “Rhhuuuaaahh!”
John: “Some things you need to learn from experience.”
Jim: “And having a door slammed into my unsuspecting head teaches me what exactly?”
Me: “Well, that you drink too much and can't hold it well, which we all knew already, and that you can be quite an amusing person sometimes, 'cause that was some funny-ass shit.”
Marc: “The door-front sleeping came after a backyard nap and some drunken ramblings as you lit the wrong end of cigarettes on the back porch.”
Jim: “Do I have apology calls to make today?”
John: “Never apologize. Never explain.”
Waitress: “OK, who gets the chorizo and eggs?”
A silence envelops the table as the Tabasco pouring, seasoning and devouring begins. The eggs are wet, the bacon crisp, the biscuits fluffy with a bit of crunch around the edges, and the gravy is thick, home-style. Slowly, the grease coats and soothes our jangled nerves and the metabolic process begins to convert carbs into much-needed energy. A single order accompanied by a choice of toast, flour or corn tortillas, English muffin or biscuit and gravy is enough to fill even the most insatiable of appetites.
Chorizo and eggs; sausage with a Latin swing, chopped and fried with eggs and cheddar calls my saliva glands to attention as John's machaca teases my stomach with its delicious emanations. Forks are stabbed at plates almost at random, knowing that wherever they touch down, they'll bring home a delight. We slide back in our chairs, grinning mischievously as we silently recount the weekend, marveling at the recuperative powers of the body and thinking on what a good, solid meal can do to expedite the healing process.
The old black-and-white photos that line the walls reflect the soft natural light oozing in through the all-window façade, the easy flow of space created by the curved ceiling composed of smooth wooden planks subtly creates acoustics that tone down all conversations, so that even when the place is full and dialogs run-over dialogs, there is still a sense of privacy at each table.
The light and sound combine with the slightly aged, comfortably worn cushions on the chairs to create a living room feel, a place of ease, and familiarity. A place where tales of outrageous fortune and drunken hazes can be hashed out without worry of offended ears or evil eyes.
A good breakfast is hard to find. One where the service is as good-natured as it is unobtrusive, and the ambiance meditative and peaceful, is a godsend. And to those of us in dire need of a safe haven come Sunday morning, The Menu is the place.