Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Breakfast at Al's (without Al)
413 4th Ave SE
Note: Today's review is a guest post, brought to you by a friend-who's-a-boy who wasn't able to eat breakfast with me earlier this week, probably because I was out in the 'burbs teaching the math, rather than in the city experiencing one of Minneapolis's true institutions with him. Good thing I like the math. Anyway, here's Jeff.
I get the feeling that they don't appreciate non-locals in this diner. But I live in the Chateau. Look, you can see my apartment from here!
I sit down and am quickly ignored. I find a menu within arm's reach. Quirky items. Pancakes with corn nibblets. Stewed prunes. They seem to specialize in eggs benedict. I decide on the New Orleans (N.O.) omelet. Slivered almonds. Capers. Shrimp and garlic hollandaise sauce. I like seafood. If only my waitress knew...that I wanted to order something.
I don't order coffee. I think this was a mistake. This is a sure sign that I'm a neophyte. No eggs benedict neither.
The cook likes to shout really loud from one side of the restaurant to the other. This amuses me. No really, it does. Bob Marley is playing. The guy next to me starts chatting about Rastafarians and the guy to my left recaps the Oscars. This guy is so serious about eating--he's concentrating on his meal like a hunter in the blinds--except his eggs benedict aren't trying to escape. He's so into eating his breakfast that it makes me nervous just to sit next to him. I don't why exactly.
Is it 9:20am smoke break? Where's my shrimp. Is this the Hard Times Breakfast...did I forget the secret password? The waitress appears and leaves time and again, a mild, permanent sneer on her face.
I like the personality of the place. Patron postcards from around the world and bills tacked onto the wall in varied currencies. Small dinosaur toys. A system of personal tabs arranged by name in alphabetical order. The fellow next to me leaves. His tab is in the red. "Oh well, I'll bring my checkbook next time". They take personal checks. Nice. I think about starting a tab. Big yellow slips of paper. I'll write down "Jackie Osbourne" or something like that. Brock McPatterson.
My omelet arrives. It's good, I guess. It's interesting. And that's what I usually order. I can't find any shrimp though. I ask the dishguy/underchef. He says that the shrimp are very small. I really can't see anything at all. Krill? Sea monkeys? I can taste something salty, but that might just be the capers. It's a decent omelet. I took a gamble. Eggs benedict next time. I leave a decent tip, but I leave it in quarters stacked neatly beside my plate. The staff doesn't notice my absence any more than my presence. Not as fun without Al there...