Concettina Died and Other Stories of the East Side

Waking Up Hungry In The City That Never Sleeps, posted September 16, 2006 at 01:28 AM

Dear Jim:

I assume you have not yet realized that Mark and I have moved on. After all, the breakfast host at Balthazar couldn't possibly be connected to his clientele enough to notice the absence of two regular folk who just happened to have breakfast at your restaurant every fucking Thursday for the last three years. I mean, of course I know you weren't the host there for those three full years (three cheers each to Maria!!! and Michael!!!)--just the last six months or so--and how could you possibly catch up in that short amount of time? How could you possibly recognize us week after week in such a time? Anyway, I thought I'd let you know about our travels all over lower Manhattan in search of an alternative breakfast.

Surely, we knew it would be a short hunt--what with the Cupping Room Cafe being our first stop. We knew from everything we read that this was the place the locals dine for weekday breakfast. Well, that may be, although we don't know how, since the breakfast itself was basically inedible. Mark's "berries" were all "straw" and my eggs were cold, and the potatoes--well, let's not go to the potatoes, since I always got the salad at Balthazar anyway. But the coffee? Um, yeah, Mark's "latte" was hot--piping!--but piping hot dishwater still tastes like dishwater, Jim.

Next stop, the next week, was Mercer Kitchen. Surely, Jim, you know we're gonna be happy at a swank ol' dump like this! Oops. Wrong again. We weren't happy, we were cold. Freezing. Frigid, one might say. It's true, the food was absolutely delicious. But the atmosphere--from the cold hard edges to the cold hard waitress--was, how else to say it?, cold and hard. And did I mention it was literally freezing? I was wearing a sport coat thinking "I wish I had an overcoat." I know a restaurant's atmosphere should match its service and its mission, but do they have to take it to extremes?

The following week, Jim, I was certain this was it. We were off to Ditch Plains--who pride themselves on opening at 7.30 every morning and not closing again until god-knows-when the next morning in the middle of the night and you can order anything off the breakfast lunch and dinner menus at anytime throughout the day! Awesome. Plus--full disclosure--it's owned and operated by my friend Marc (Murphy, of Landmarc, my favorite, Amen!). My dinners at Ditch Plains have all been truly wonderful. Now, I know it's hard for someone who doesn't get out for breakfast much--someone like you, Jim--to understand this, but What Are The Goddamn Odds That Again The Food Would Be Delicious And The Atmosphere Totally Wrong Two Weeks In A Row?!??! In all fairness, Mark and I thought we could return here. I had an omelette with gruyere cheese and blood sausage--BLOOD SAUSAGE OMELETTE!! WOOHOO!!--and it was Salty Heaven™.


Let me skip ahead, Jim. This week, having failed at finding Sant Ambroeus open at 8am, we trolled around in the rain as best we could trying to find some other delicious breakfast in The West Village That Never Sleeps, but.... well, they were all asleep. So it was back to Ditch Plains. Let me tell you, two weeks of a waitress insisting that it's No Problem clearly indicates that It Is Indeed A Problem. And--my apologies to my friend Mr. Murphy--but nobody needs to sit in a restaurant of this caliber and drink his morning coffee from a paper cup. This isn't charming, it's torture. It's morning for god's sake. I just want the All American Bottomless Cup! Anyway, we were the only people in the place. Not really the right atmosphere for our weekly breakfast date.

Okay, so now what? Well, this coming week we're gonna try Noho Star. I know, Jim, I know, but we both live downtown and what else can we do? If that fails, the following week you can find us at Clinton Street Baking Company. A bit out of our way, but I have (tentative) good feelings about that one. We'll see.

Jim, I want you to know: Mark and I don't resent you. We understand that the Judy Millers of the world, the Vincent Gallos, the Greying Twins with the Powerbooks, the Molly Ringwalds, the David Blaines for god's sake, they all need a place to break their fasts, and god forbid we should sit in their way on Thursday mornings. But, Jim, please, do me a favor. If you ever leave your job mal-hosting breakfasts at Balthazar on Thursday mornings--please have Michael just drop me a line to let me know. I'm craving a tartine and a side of fresh berries.

All our love, David and Mark

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