Confession time. I spent over $40 for my wife and I have breakfast yesterday. We didn’t feast on caviar. We both had meals focused around eggs (yellow, not green) and ham. As for the atmosphere, the table was clearly worn, the walls had tears in the wallpaper and the napkins were your every day paper variety.
On the other hand, the food was some of the best I’ve had in some time. The place, The Old Coffee Pot in New Orleans has been featured in Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. It has a historic vibe (which explains the condition of the tables and the wallpaper. The waitress, Miss Shirley, who looks like she’s been a fixture for a while will occasionally belt out a an Amazing Grace. During our meal she didn’t sing. I didn’t know she did sing until I got home and did a little more research in the place. However, her positive energy ran throughout the place. One gentleman in the corner went to two ladies visiting from England and asked if they’d partake in a glass of champagne for him. You see, his problem is that he didn’t want to open a whole bottle for just himself, but if he had the company of a couple others to share a glass with it would make his morning. If I ever watched Downton Abbey, I imagine it would have been the New Orleans version of a scene. (Note: my entire view of Downton Abbey is shaped by this hiliarious Saturday Night Live Skit not from actually watching the TV show.)
Not only was atmosphere great, but the food was great too. As a lifelong northerner, the opportunity to have grits and biscuits doesn’t come along very often. The Callas Cakes were fantastic. (Odd coincidence: It was the second plantation meal that I’ve had in about a month while on a trip.)
Despite this great breakfast, I’m reminded of what a friend said to me a month before, “If I’m going to spend $30-40 on a meal, it should be a dinner, not breakfast.” It’s an amazing point. We could have had a dinner at Friday’s, Applebee’s, etc. for the same price. It’s not just the Old Coffee Pot either, it seems to be true of nearly every place in Northern California. It seems like nearly everything at any place I go to is in the $8-10 range. Add in tip and tax and it can get to be $12-15 per person. Whatever happened to the $5 breakfast burrito?
One sign of the importance of breakfast to restaurants is that fast-food chains are joining in. For example, Subway started serving breakfast about 18 months ago. Taco Bell joined the party (in some locations) recently as well. (Taco Bell, if you are reading this, please open up before 8:30 if you want to be serious about breakfast.)
Personally, I’ll stick with making breakfast at home. I’m a big fan of the Jimmy Dean’s D-Lights Sandwiches which are fairly cheap (not much more than $1 a sandwich) at the military commissary where I shop.
Ask the Readers: Are you finding that breakfast prices are creeping with dinner prices in your area? Do you find yourself going out for fewer breakfasts because of it?