Before I got into the whole food writing thing, I always felt pretty ignorant about food… let alone the standards of good food. What are these standards in the first place? Is it the taste? The most bang for your buck?
Constantly I am reminded of an ongoing theme with me and that continues to play out well into my early adulthood. An example would be a classic breakfast spot of mine known as The Coffee Mill & Bakery, situated in Oakland, California.
I know what you’re thinking… home of hyphy music, the word hella, Lil B (aka Base God), gunshots, Oakland Raiders and Comedy Central’s panicky Dave Chappelle (before him and Dr. Dre had bodies built like NFL Players). This particular spot holds a dear place in my heart. Looking back as a kid visiting this place with a family member or middle school crush in tow, surely its guaranteed to deliver the goods. It looked much older and it wasn’t as colorful as I remembered it (shades of grey, brown and black permeate in my brain). Back then it was all about the bacon, eggs and hash brown offerings. No fuss, I just liked my over-easy eggs, a few strips of bacon and that crunchy hash brown taste.
Even after this review archived experience, many years later (My review Circa 2008) I’ve been an ongoing patron of this local brunch spot. The path is tranquil, curving along Grand Street, hugging the beautiful (and occasional bird dropping infested) Lake Merritt connecting to the Lower Hillside of Oakland.
Walking inside, one would expect the run of the mill (hah) conservative American grandma to have you seated at the table and passing your menus. Well instead, I got an ethnic family serving me (a traditional Chinese Canton one of Origin at best). The Chinese waitress seated us in five minutes and we we’re in there. Not exactly a problem seeing as Oakland has become more diversified over the years, but it really threw me a curveball given the first couple of times sitting in there. Apparently, after 30 years of business, some things just seem timeless. We ordered the following: (Photos Here)
Hot cocoa and fresh squeezed OJ, you got it. The Chicken BLT, my Aussie companion enjoyed it (you can’t really mess it up). As for the Eggs Benedict, it was a phase of mine (think recovering crack addict). I am probably a bigger eggslut than any of you (that includes you Anthony Bourdain), sadly I know it’s not good for my cholesterol so I’m moderating it when I can. The poached eggs and hollandaise sauce go together like Cher and Bono (think leprechaun meets yellow light arc of the rainbow) or Christina Aguilera and Justin Timberlake (maybe not the right combination). It has a nice crispy texture on top while the bottom half is moist and piping hot. Better bring Noah’s Golden Flood (egg yolk) over that square portion before consumption.
Overall, it wasn’t the best breakfast of my life (official rating will be divulged after next blog posting). Some things are better left untainted and strictly traditional. This type of breakfast spot is one of them; hopefully within another 20 years they will become an antiquity in Oakland. Cheers, may you make many more kids happy with breakfast next to a timeless lake.