Sunday, April 26, 2015

612 meets 318

318 Water Street, Excelsior, MN 55331

The Internet has shrunk the world and brought us all closer together. We no longer have to wait to read about disasters in the morning paper. We now know about earthquakes in Nepal minutes after they happen. Deaths of Google executives are tweeted long before the obituary can be researched, edited and printed. There are bad things about this shrunken world. On the Internet, for example, all of the restaurants seem pretty close to us, so when Sarah puts out a call for breakfast on the “Wayzata side” of Minneapolis, and I find a website for a place in Excelsior, it seems like no problem to make it there for breakfast at 9:00. After all visiting the website took no more clicks than visiting the website of any old restaurant in my East Lake Street neighborhood.

It wasn’t until I was in the actual bricks-and-mortar car, driving past actual strip malls that I realized that the Internet had tricked me again. 318 Water Street, which looks so close on the Internet is actually quite a drive from all of our homes (except for the one Sarah and Perley are housesitting). It’s so far in fact, that I even felt a twinge of carsickness on the drive home when my full belly jostled around in the back of Jimmy’s Mini Cooper. Spending most of the morning driving to and from breakfast is going to affect the grade. How can it not?

To get the full impact of the distance on my review, picture this: I am a breast-feeding woman four hours past waking up, with no pre-breakfast breakfast on board, having endured a seemingly endless drive past strip malls and bike trails and sprawling suburban schools and more strip malls and a technology-induced tour of a cul-de-sac (no GPS, seriously, just tell us to turn around. We don’t need to drive 0.75 miles out of our way to do it). And just as we neared the restaurant – that shining beacon of hope of finally getting some food – Jimmy decided to park the car two blocks away so that his beloved could get some extra Fitbit steps on the way to the restaurant. About then, Sarah texted me a picture of her mimosa. I tried not to faint.

I exaggerate. It’s what we do.

Anyway, the location is “main street suburbia”. It’s the kind of place with plenty of antique shops and boutiques and nostalgia for the 1950s (ahh…for the days of Joe McCarthy and brutal redlining and women in the kitchen and glorified conformity). Still it’s a preferable suburban architectural movement to “Bennigan’s suburban hell,” so I’ll take it.

Perley informed us as we sat down that four other tables arrived just as we did, and the waitstaff and kitchen were slammed. I regretted again the lack of a first breakfast. It was another hour before I saw any food.

The menu is slim. One page, one side. I skimmed it and quickly determined that the best option was the breakfast burrito. In fact the second and third best options seemed like rearrangements of the breakfast burrito ingredients. I could see that only Sarah’s stubborn will prevented her from ordering it. She got some kind of breakfast sandwich. Jimmy and I had no such qualms. He got it with pork and I got it without. Judy ordered one of the breakfast burrito rearrangements, even though she can’t stand even the tiniest bit of spiciness. She only ordered it because she feared we’d mock her if she ordered any of her actual top three choices (granola, fruit and yogurt, or oatmeal). Yes, I just realized that two of our members were afraid to order what they really want because of the judgy mc-judgypants nature of our group. Perley on the other hand clearly has no fear of mockery because he ordered the quiche.

When the food finally arrived, it was adequate. It was good. It’s not worth the trek. It was definitely not worth the wait once we finally made it to the table. Luckily, I came for the company, judginess and all, and the company did not disappoint. It’s been too long since we sat down together for the most important meal of the day and shared good conversation and laughter without chasing children or worrying about cleanup.

On to the grades.
First, let’s be honest. My burrito was only on my plate for about 3.5 minutes before I wolfed the whole thing down. It tasted fresh. I liked the kick of the salsa and the flavor of the chipotle sour cream and the mix of black beans and eggs. I don’t remember a thing else about it. I was starving. I give the experience a B. I’d raise it to an A- if you already live in the suburbs. Hell, if you have to choose between this and a Bennigan’s I’ll give it an A. Please, choose this. Seems like a good sort of place to have around in the suburbs.

Perley: Quiche. He tried to grade each item, but I’ll average it so you don’t have to. Coffee tasted a bit burned, quiche lacked fluff and was too small. The mimosa was his favorite part of the meal, but he wanted 5% more orange juice. B

Judy: Queso freco egg sandwich with black beans and corn salsa. Too spicy. Too few beans. She didn’t like the corn. Eggs were overcooked. Staff was nice. Setting was pleasant. Food was slow. B-

Sarah: Egg sandwich with ham cheddar and spinach. It wasn’t worth the wait and it’s not a destination restaurant, but it’s good in a limited menu kind of way if you’re already in the neighborhood. She liked that the sandwich was full size and she had enough food. C

Jimmy: Breakfast burrito with pork. It had nice spices, but the tortilla was doughy. C

Full confession. I had to stop for a scone on the way home. I told you I was starving.

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