So, I really do try to stay positive most of the time, but unfortunately, I can be a bit impatient, especially first thing in the morning. If I haven’t had coffee yet, don’t mess with me, you WILL be sorry you did.
As we are apt to do, my wife and I decided that this morning we would go out for breakfast. Now, I know that I should probably not go out for breakfast. I mean, it’s real easy to make breakfast at home. But I’m lazy, and we were low on food items, so we decided to go try this new place for breakfast.
I live in Wilmington NC. I know it’s not the cultural center of the universe or hell, even the state, but it’s a fairly large “medium sized” town. You would think that there would be a decent breakfast spot around here. Maybe I’m just too hung up on breakfast. I mean we have some good seafood restaurants, decent steakhouses, but whenever I go out for breakfast I feel the urge to buy some property and open a proper breakfast diner. I see all of these great places on the Travel Chanel and the Food Network. Bobby Flay is on talking about the best french toast, and then some other guy talking about freshly made corn beef hash in some diner in Cleveland, and I think why can’t we have that here. I mean it’s just breakfast, how hard can it be?
Well we have several Waffle Houses. They’re OK if you’re drunk and it’s 3:30 on a Sunday morning and you can’t see straight enough to see the sanitation score. Otherwise, not an option.
There’s an IHOP. It’s usually an hour wait to get a table on a Saturday or Sunday morning. The tables are always sticky, the floor is dirty, and it smells. The food isn’t very good either and it’s over priced.
Cracker Barrel is another popular breakfast spot in this town. Another chain. I have to spend 30-45 minutes wondering around their store full of redneck junk before I can eat. Half the time my order or my wife’s order is wrong. It’s loud. Did I mention the all the countrified goobers?
There’s a couple of local “diner” type places. Jimbo’s and Whitey’s which have been around forever. I’ve never had the pleasure of eating at Whitey’s, but my wife assures me it’s horrible and won’t let me go there. She says the floor is sticky and the ceiling is brown. Jimbo’s is OK, but they only take cash, another dirty, greasy spoon place. The wife hates it as well. Their food is nothing special either.
I guess that’s my real problem with breakfast places here. They’re just plain ordinary and you have to wait forever to get seated. Why am I waiting an hour to get a plate of cold eggs, a biscuit, grits, and sausage and then pay you $20-$30 for it? But people here line up on Saturdays and Sundays like it’s the Taj Mahal or something.
When I go out I want something special. Show me something I’ve never had before. Or put a nice twist on an old favorite. There’s a few other places around town that have a weekend breakfast or brunch. There were a couple of places close by in the Mayfair area that offered brunch on Sunday’s, but they closed within the last year. There’s the White Front breakfast house downtown on Market Street. Can you spell g-h-e-t-t-o? The Holiday Inn Sunspree Resort in Wrightsville Beach offers a wonderful brunch buffet on Sundays. They have prime rib, duck, pastries, an omelet station, and for 3 people to eat there the bill was $60.
There used to be a Shoney’s in this town. Oh how I miss it. My friends and I would cut first period and drive 30 minutes just to eat there. They had a breakfast buffet and it was awesome. We also used to have a Perkins. It was open 24 hours and they served breakfast any time. They both closed, I really don’t know why, poor management perhaps? We did have a Denny’s as well, briefly, but I was happy to see that one go.
Sorry to get off on a tangent, but suffice it to say, we’re still looking for our favorite breakfast spot. So today we got up and left the house at 10:00am (early for us on a Sunday) to try a place we had heard about called Bon Apetit. It’s actually a catering company that has a small restaurant on Carolina Beach Road. We had been told and read online reviews that they had a wonderful breakfast.
We arrived at the place about 10:20 ish. We found a parking spot in a large gravel lot adjacent to the small eatery and walked to the front door. Not a glass door like at some chain, but a regular door with a doorknob like on the front of your house. We walked in and looked around. There were two couples standing in an area maybe 10 feet by 10 feet deemed the “waiting area”. There was a small bar on the back wall along the kitchen area with stools and seating for maybe 15 people. There were approximately 20-30 small tables crammed in the rest of the space and they were all full. There was a sign that said “Please seat yourself at a clean table”.
So there was no one to take your name or put you on a list, it was every man, woman and child for themselves. The couple in front of us had a small baby that my wife was making faces at. There was one table that had a couple of cups on it, but was otherwise unoccupied. I kept waiting for one of the couples ahead of us to take the table. Maybe they didn’t see it. I thought about just going over and sitting down, but that would have been rude. Perhaps they were waiting for it to be “cleaned”. There were about 4 waitresses running around the place. No one seemed interested in cleaning the table.
While I was pondering on this, my thoughts were interrupted by a party of four “gray hairs” coming in behind us. It was already a tight fit, but the wife and I stepped over towards an occupied table to accommodate the elderly group. Well it was two couples and right away one of the old ladies started motioning with her arm at the sign. “Well it says just seat yourself.” “There’s a table over there we could sit at,” motioning at the table that still had the two cups on it. All the while bumping into me with her backside.
OK, I haven’t had my coffee yet. I don’t like loudmouth, know-it- all’s, especially those that have no consideration for a line or my personal space. At least IHOP has a process where they put your name on a list. But here in the land of breakfast originality I was going to have to beat down a 75 year old woman to keep her from stealing a table that should be for someone two spots ahead of me in line.
At this point about 6 more people tried to shove their butts through the door, which wasn’t happening. The lady in front of us with the baby actually said to me “Hey, can you move they’re trying to get through.” Where am I supposed to stand, on the plate of eggs at the table next to me? I don’t why she was so concerned for them. Maybe they were with that couple. Maybe they worked there. At this point I was too pissed to stand around and find out. I turned to the group of now about 10 people crammed in the door way and said loudly “Excuse me.” and proceeded to push my way out apologizing to my wife the whole time who had been so excited to get up and go try out a new breakfast spot.
To the people at Bon Apetit: I’m sure your food is great, but get a clue. Put someone at the front with a clipboard and a pencil and make people stand outside until a table is ready. Hell, the Waffle House has their own security guard. People don’t play when it comes to breakfast around here. Someone is going to get shanked.
By this point is was 11am and we drove to a place close by called “Henry’s”. Henry’s is a local place that is managed by a group that owns several other popular seafood and Italian restaurants. I had seen a review online that someone posted about their wonderful brunch selections. When we got there it was almost empty. The waitress seemed excited that we had arrived. I have eaten there for dinner several times and have never been disappointed. It’s a little pricey, but a nice place with a good menu. As the waitress was taking us to our table I asked “You are serving brunch, right?” She gave a puzzled look and said, “Well, we don’t have any breakfast items on our menu if that’s what you mean.”
“Thanks”, we said and turned around and walked out. We drove around a little more and decided to just give in and go to Cracker Barrel. There was enough people on the “porch” to look like a family reunion by 11:30. I told Erika, “We’ll be waiting an hour at least. Let’s just go home. I’ll stop and get some stuff at the store and make breakfast at home.” She had given up. She looked out the window and sadly said “Fine, I don’t care.”
On the drive home we both vented our frustrations about the breakfast situation for about the 100th time. Finally she slammed her hand down and said “Saltworks, why didn’t we just go there.”
The Saltworks II as it’s formally known is an old country eatery on Wrightsville Ave. There is another “The Saltworks” (I) on Oleander Dr/Military Cutoff near the marina, which is just a hamburger stand.
Saltworks II is small, but larger than the other, and usually packed, but they have a decent selection and there’s not any tourists there. Just locals and college kids. They used to serve dinner, but now just do breakfast and lunch until 3pm. We had been a couple of weeks ago. It was the first time I had eaten there since I was a teenager, but it wasn’t all that bad. The atmosphere wasn’t great, but the prices were good and the food was some of the best around here for breakfast. Nothing fancy, but it was flavorful and the service was decent.
So we drove back across town and went there. There was a line and it took us about 30 minutes to get a table. Another “seat yourself” place. There was some elderly woman complaining behind us the whole time, but by this point I didn’t care. We finally got seated and got some coffee. I had french toast and sausage and the wife got pancakes, bacon, and hash browns. The food was good and the bill was only $19.48. Not bad, but still not quite what I’m looking for.
All that and finally we were done eating breakfast at 12:45.
I would still like to eat at Bon Apetit. Maybe we’ll have to get there at 7am when they open. There’s also a couple of places downtown I’d like to try for brunch. Deluxe and Cafe Phoenix. Their menu’s look really fancy. Pretentious breakfast.
Bobby Flay’s favorite french toast recipe doesn’t look all that hard to make. Maybe from now on we’ll just stay in for breakfast, how hard could it be?