Saturday, August 04, 2007
There's smoke, there's fire, there's sizzling but it's not a hibachi table. Chef and owner Doug prepares and cooks food one foot in front of your eyes. It's the narrowest breakfast in town, the Al's Breakfast.
I read about the restaurant in Wikipedia, so I decided to check it out. Knowing that it's the 'narrowest' restaurant, still I missed the sign when walking from the other side of the street between SE 4th and 5th St. I was probably distracted by the place right across SE 14th Ave, which read 'Cajun breakfast'. Cajun is one of my favorites, still I have no idea what is a 'Cajun breakfast'. I decided it should be the fall back plan, if I couldn't find the Al's walking the opposite way from the other side of the street. Well, maybe next time, next day.
Well, it is narrow, so that you wonder the necessity of the double doors. There are the wall, the narrow pass for the staff, the narrow counter, a line of swivel bar stools (all together there are 14 of them, which happened to be my lucky number), and the other wall. I sat on the third stool from the door and ordered a coffee. A menu is sticked on a tiny rack, which is a great help for me.
The menu include all common breakfast stuff, but the trick is that you can just make up your own. The chef is close enough to hear your order. However, (maybe due to the length of the premise) they yelled and shouted all the time. Sometimes they joked and mocked each other, loudly and cheerfully. Just like Japanese restaurants in Japan. The 40 some woman on my left had been writing something since I came in, and the couple on my right were apparently sweeting because of the heat from the cooking stable.
It was a weekday late morning in summer. There was no line up, but at most 1 or 2 seats were left available at any time. Some worked fast, some just hanged on. A Chinese boy and a Chinese woman seems to be on their first date. Yeah, I can understand their Chinese from half of the room.;-) A couple of coffee were lasting forever. I had a summer special omelet, a bacon and a hash brown. The omelet was delicious, and so is the bacon. The hash brown didn't taste different than others, but they were 'hot', very 'hot'.:)
Doug took a break, and ate a bowl of blue berry. They use real material in the food, and use a lot. I was waiting for him to come back cooking so that I could take a picture. So I chatted with Lisa the waitress to kill time. I asked Lisa what the narrow yellow books that occupied the lower of three level shelfs through out the wall. She told me that's prepaid breakfast coupon. It's a welcome measure for parents, who could be assured their kids were fed well, at the same time with no real money for creative usage. The top level are sticked with all different kind of foreign bills. I found a 1 Yuan RMB bill easily. There were three waiters and waitresses to take care of the 14 stools. And there is not much maneuvering space, so any needs are promptly answered.
Another round of ordering got Doug back. I snapped a photo, and said goodbye. Beside sizzling food, why Al's? Besides numerous awards and honors, there's tune composed for it and fiction written about it, and we learned all these in a wiki entrance. However, no other alternative can give your the sensation of knowing that the seat have been known as 'an icon of the State' by generations of scholars and students since 1950s and in the years to come.