Much has been written by jaded servers and other industry folk about the phenomenon of brunch. People love brunching. People who have to cook and serve those people who love brunch, hate it. Or at least, I did. I worked Saturday and Sunday brunch for nearly a year at a very popular and extremely busy Queen Street West restaurant. I always did my best to smile and be cordial on the floor, but my personality shifted as soon as I was out of eyesight: “Of course you can have an egg white omelette,” to the 20 year-old diner, but on the way through the revolving kitchen door, “what the fuck is so fucking scary about yolks? She’s a size zero. She should eat a fucking sandwich for chrisssake.” Or “Your over-easy eggs are slightly over-medium?” at tableside, but in my head, “So you’re telling me you want me to take this plate away and get the extremely grumpy and hung-over chef in the back to redo these little guys up for you? Sure buddy. No fucking problem. The thirty or so folks in line won’t mind that you just cost them another twenty minutes of waiting, and can I also cut the crusts off your toast for you, you little baby.” People turn into animals. They call you over to their table (some monsters even snap or whistle) to order when you’re clearly talking to other customers, and then you rush over and they’re not even close to deciding what they want; they ask you to take their order while they’re on their cell phones; they sit down at dirty tables (who does that?); and in turn their poor behaviour causes perfectly normal people–such as myself–to lose all sense of decorum.
Wow. I haven’t spoken about all this in years and it’s clear I have some pent-up anger raging inside of me. That’s why it’s with mixed emotion that the Beast and I make our way to Brad’s Eatery every Saturday for brunch. It’s around the corner from our place and there’s never a line-up and everybody who works there is plain lovely. We’ve only ever ordered their eggs benedict which is made with such care (no clumpy, ill-tasting hollandaise here!) This Brad character apparently used to work at Mildred Pierce. (The servers at that now-closed establishment must have put up with the ultimate brunching characters. The place had a line-up before they opened up on Sunday mornings!) The thing is, it’s hard for me to relax at brunch. I’m always worried about turning into the cliche couple who “brunches” with their pile of papers. And I’m always conscious of the servers’ feelings and never want to cause them any sort of grief as a result of me eating there. But the lure of bacon and eggs is just too much for me to resist.
Foodie: Why don’t you get salad with your eggs benedict and so will I and then we can order a side order of potatoes to share.
Beast: But I don’t want salad. Why don’t you just order a side salad?
Foodie: Because I don’t see that available on the menu but I do see a side of potatoes, so if we both order salad with our eggs, we can get potatoes too.
Beast: Just ask for a salad!
Foodie: But it’s not on the menu! Brunch is hard enough without assholes asking to order things that don’t even exist!
The server, a lovely gentlemen, who doesn’t fuss about with small talk and is extremely efficient, came to take our order, and I have a feeling he’d overheard our conversation. The beast went ahead and ordered eggs benedict with peameal bacon and potatoes with a side of apple wood-smoked sausage. I was about to order the same, but with salad instead of potatoes when the server did the unspeakable:
Server: Why don’t you get half potatoes and half a salad for an extra $1.50?
Foodie: You can do that?
Server: Of course.
Foodie: Well, yes. Yes, I will do that! But only if it won’t be any trouble. I don’t want to cause any trouble.
Server: No trouble at all.
Maybe it was his accommodating attitude that nudged me into doing the unspeakable: I asked for a modification.
Foodie: Would it be possible, and feel free to say no, but would I be allowed to have just plain old strip bacon with my eggs benedict rather than the peameal bacon?
And just like that, I got my dream brunch meal. Pleased as punch, I grabbed the Style section of Saturday’s Globe to read my Beppi, Joanne and Leah, and the Beast buried his face into his New Yorker, and then we ate our perfect breakfasts. On the way out, the servers all smiled at us like they recognized us from previous visits.
Foodie: Did you see that?
Beast: See what?
Foodie: They know who we are! Do you think they’re going to talk bad about us now? About how we read our pretentious papers and how we get the same thing every week and just how annoying we are?
Beast: I need to have a cigarette.
Foodie: We can’t come back next Saturday. We can’t become “regulars”.
Beast: We could wear costumes.
Now that’s a good idea. We could go every week dressed as different characters, even changing the inflections in our voices to really fool them. Costumes or not–and despite my irrational fears–I’m sure we’ll be back at Brad’s eatery next Saturday. It’s too tasty to stay away.