Wednesday, May 9, 2012


First, before I delve into the relationship between babies and brunch, I want to share an important revelation/discovery -- there are people, urban adult people, who do not care about brunch. God bless these people. I was telling a new friend about my brunch blog and she was genuinely confused that a brunch culture exists. "I don't think I've ever gone out to brunch," she claimed. I was wary. But then when she asked what kind of food is on brunch menus, I began to believe her. I wish she and her kind would procreate and then NOT bring their offspring to restaurants serving brunch. Because if there's one thing you can predict about brunch beyond extravagantly priced eggs and hungover servers who haven't showered, it's babies. Lots and lots of babies. Some of which will be crying nonstop. 

Where I work, we always have a betting pool concerning how many babies will be present at brunch. It's Price Is Right rules -- closest without going over. And we're very strict about the definition of a baby. To qualify, the child
  • must not enter the restaurant on its own -- it must come in via stroller or in the arms of an adult.
  • must not sit in a normal chair -- highchair or stroller is fine
  • must not be able to speak in full sentences or be able to order for him/herself
  • must not be able to drink out of a normal water glass
  • must not be able to hold normal utensils and feed him/herself
  • must not still be in utero, i.e. pregnant women don't count

On major brunch days like Easter and Mother's Day, everyone bets in the double digits. And suddenly, instead of a nice, white-tablecloth $$$ establishment, we become about as classy as Denny's.

The thing about babies is -- they're so messy. They shred things, they throw food. I'm always stuck vacuuming up Cheerios from the carpet after brunch. And the parents are always annoyed that we don't have a kids' menu. It's not like we ever claimed to -- maybe you should have called or looked on our website before bringing in your toddler who only eats chocolate-chip pancakes?  Just sayin'.

This Sunday is Mother's Day. And there's no better way to celebrate your motherhood by taking your spawn out for a meal he/she can't even really chew.  I've looked at the reservations and I'm feeling like my magic number might be 14. 14 babies during a 3.5 hour shift.

Bring it on, babies. LET'S DO THIS.   

Sunday, January 22, 2012

My brunch nemesis

Every server has one. That crazy regular who comes in during what's already the most heinous shift (brunch) and makes your life hell. Mine looks a bit like a homeless Susan Boyle. Or this:

Yes, that's the crazy cat lady from The Simpsons. I don't know if my brunch nemesis (henceforth referred to as my BN) is into cats, but you know what she is into? Reading a giant newspaper and then leaving it all over the floor for me to clean up when she leaves. And sometimes she doesn't even have the decency to leave the crossword.

The worst thing about my BN is her attitude. She always come in alone* (see note) and after being in her presence for 2 minutes, it's clear why. She's very defensive, as if you've already wronged her or might spit in her face at any moment. She likes to sit as far away from other people as possible and if the dining room is noisy and crowded, she takes her misery out on the staff. I mean, it's obviously our fault that she can't eat her brunch in complete silence.

But at least she's predictable. She always drinks a lot of coffee and wants it refilled even when it's three-quarters full and still steaming. And when she asks for the "refill" her expression screams WHYDIDIHAVETOASKYOUFORTHISYOUSHOULDHAVEKNOWNINEEDEDMORECOFFEE
She also uses a lot of cream and a lot of sugar, even by Boston "coffee regulah" standards. I usually fill the jumbo creamer we use on big tables for her. And I bring her about a dozen packets of sugar.

Her culinary tastes are simple -- fish and chips when it's on the menu (extra aioli. I just bring it now before she asks) and eggs benedict without ham when it's not. If it's an eggs benedict day, we have this conversation. Verbatim.

BN: (with great agitation) Um, I don't eat ham? Can I substitute avocado?

Me: Yes, but it's an extra dollar.

BN: (grimaces) Oh. I see. Never mind. Well, can I substitute french fries for home fries?

Me: The eggs benedict actually doesn't come with home fries, but you can order a side of fries if you like.

BN: (devastated and angry) Oh. Never mind.

We had a little kerfuffle once when I was flustered/busy and accidentally told BN she could substitute avocado for ham. Then the kitchen told me I had to charge her a $1 and in the chaos, I forgot to mention it and she flipped out when I gave her the check. But that's all water under the crazy bridge now and I'm always very careful to explain about the up-charge when she inevitably asks.

When BN decides it's time to leave, she needs to leave IMMEDIATELY and if it takes you more than a minute to bring her the check and run her credit card, you can bet that's coming out of the 12% tip she's planning on leaving.

But the most terrifying thing about BN is that once, I Googled her (yes, I know her name because sometimes she makes a reservation for one) and she apparently is a professor at, like, MIT. Now, when I'm not slinging overpriced eggs, I too have a college teaching job. (I like to say I wait tables to pay for my teaching habit). Is this what I have to look forward to if I continue to work in academia? Wearing an oversized knit hat and considering avocado a frivolous luxury?

*One time, she was joined at her table tucked in the farthest reaches of the restaurant by a man in denim overalls who looked equally disheveled/emotionally disturbed. He too ordered fish and chips. They barely spoke to each other
and then paid and left separately. To this day, I have no idea what that was about.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Fancypants Hash

Before I could post about this, I needed to conduct a little research so that I could back up a seemingly offensive claim with actual data. The claim: corned beef hash traditionally/historically is eaten by middle-to-lower class people. Before you get all in my face about being classist, let me say that I was making this assumption based on the fact that you can get it at most corner stores for less than $3. And let's be real, the greasy canned variety just doesn't look like rich people food:

Sorry, but Warren Buffet is not eating that for breakfast. Don't get me wrong -- it tastes freakin' delicious, almost good enough to justify the intestinal distress that usually follows its consumption.

My hunch was correct -- according to Wikipedia, corned beef hash became popular during WWII when food was rationed and fresh, high quality meat was hard to come by. Corned beef hash was survival food, a good way to get some protein that would also fill you up. It's literally meat and potatoes, working folks' food.

Not anymore.

Now on brunch menus, there will almost always be some kind of fancy hash. Like the above pictured duck confit hash. At the restaurant where I work, we had braised lamb hash on the menu this past Sunday. Hash has gotten mighty big for its britches, if you ask me. It's come a long way from its unassuming beginnings:

This beef short rib hash is almost too pretty to eat:

Here's my main question: Why do we feel the need to dress up our hash? Are we ashamed to admit that something that looks (arguably) gross

tastes amazing?

I for one would like to return hash to its true roots. No more highfalutin hash! Hash for the 99%! #occupybrunch!