At the risk of sounding whiny or acting like I know more about the restaurant business than I really do, I’ve begun compiling an on-going list of preferences I’ve uncovered throughout my breakfasting experience. I don’t necessarily hold a restaurant in lesser regard if they do one or more of these things; none of these are hard and fast rules. But it’s the little things that count, and overall I’ve had better experiences at breakfast joints that avoid some of these recurring issues.
(last updated 12/20/10)
- Serve your butter soft. No one likes scraping frozen solid slabs of butter onto their toast. No matter how hot the toast is, it can’t melt the butter all the way, and we’ll inadvertently destroy it through our efforts. Tossing a couple pads of frozen butter to your customer makes us feel like you’re just pulling everything out of the freezer.
- Take pride in your coffee. Your customers aren’t there just to get caffeinated; they want something good to drink. Partner with a local roaster to buy a special blend, and get rid of that acidic bulk food club coffee.
- Whether you’re serving hash browns or home fries, chop your own potatoes. Too often I see uniform square potatoes that are clearly frozen, and too often these turn out tasteless and under-spiced. The best places bake or boil their own potatoes, and then brown them on the flat-top. In my opinion, there’s no other way to do it.
- Use fresh cream or milk. Give us a small cup of chilled half-and-half or milk to go with our coffee. It can be a small cup; it’s easy to refill if we want more. Those little plastic cups of ultra-pasteurized half-and-half frighten me. How long to they really last?
- Use some spice! At the very least, toss some salt and pepper on your eggs and potatoes. Breakfast should not be bland.
- Know your specials, but be prepared to make anything. This doesn’t mean that restaurants should just cater to the whims of their customers, but you should be flexible, especially with your regulars. Nothing feels more welcoming than being told the chef can make last Wednesday’s special for a valued customer.