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Hank Williams with wheat toast and coffee, please.

Mrs Rigby's was closed for Memorial Day, but I'd heard about another cheapish place for breakfast, verified that they'd be open, and thought I could beat the rush by being there when they unlocked the doors on a holiday.

That's reliable logic for diner eatin', but being a new kid in the big city, I got confused and took the wrong bus. I wanted the #128, but got on the #120. One digit misremembered, and instead of dropping me at Alaska Junction in West Seattle, the bus took me downtown.

Ever been in downtown Seattle at 6:45 on a holiday morning? There's nobody there except grumpy yawners on their way to minimum-wage work, a few tourists regretting it, bus drivers rolling past homeless people, and me.

Even on holidays, though, transit's pretty good here (if you can read a damned map). I was quickly on a RapidRide to where I'd wanted to be in the first place — Easy Street Records.

When I moved away from Seattle 30+ years ago, Easy Street was a great big record shop in West Seattle. I bought my Fleetwood Mac there, and Dark Side of the Moon, too. Surprisingly, it's still a record shop, but to stay in business in the internet age it's now also a diner, with the second cheapest sit-down breakfast in town.

Because of my dumb-dumb detour, it was 7:45 when I got there, instead of my intended 7:00. A sign near the door said "Please wait to be seated," but a line was queued to the register, so I stepped out of the way for a few minutes, to observe how the place works. "Please wait to be seated" must've been a sign left over from Sunday's rush; everyone waited in line and ordered at the register, like at McDonald's.

I ordered Hank Williams with wheat toast and coffee, please. It's a diner nestled inside a record shop, so everything on the menu is named for rock or country stars, and the menu's description of Hank Williams read like a Denver omelet. I usually do Denvers, especially my first time in a different diner.

The dame at the counter didn't want me to pay yet, and she asked, "For here or to go?" When I said 'here', she told me to sit anywhere, and dang it, I would've loved to sit at Easy Street's long, curving counter, but it's permanently out of business, I guess — there are no stools. I took a table at the window, with a view of early-rising bums on the sidewalk.

Instead of out the window, I looked around the restaurant. Formica tables. Hard chairs, but not uncomfortable. About 30 seats, but later I noticed a stairway up to some additional seating. There weren't many customers at a bit before 8 on a holiday morning. A disabled lady came in, barely walking, and the staff helped her to a table, and I remembered my disabled and now departed wife, so lemme say: Lots of places are accessible, not so many are accommodating.

The record racks are on the other side of the same room, with no walls between food and music. Maybe I could've put an LP on my breakfast tab. They also have CDs and cassette tapes, but Easy Street mostly sells vinyl, and they smartly have boxes of brand new record-players, stacked for a pricey impulse buy.

The bored woman who'd taken my order quickly brought quite a large porcelain cup of coffee, and I feared that the hugeness of the mug meant she wouldn't be coming 'round with refills. This was an unfounded fear, thank the caffeine gods — she brought refills every five minutes or so, and I drank a gallon. The coffee is good, but it's better at Mrs Rigby's.

And same as Mrs Rigby's, the men's room is in the kitchen, tiny, and entry is one at a time. I peed before ordering and again before leaving. I'm old.

When the meal came, meh. There was nothing horrendously wrong with my Hank, but it was uninspired — an adequate but not integrated omelet. The filling (ham, peppers, onions) was mostly loose inside the folded eggs, instead of being mixed into the cheesy henfruit. It tasted fine, but a forkful of egg followed by a forkful of fixins ain't an omelet.

The hash browns were fully cooked, a rarity at any diner — imagine brown hash browns, instead of tan. They were the highlight of my breakfast, the best hash browns since Bob's Diner in Madison, and they're what might bring me back to Easy Street on California Avenue.

The toast is a complicated story. It was barely even browned, more like warm bread than toast, un-buttered but accompanied by two pre-packaged butter dabs, fresh and hard from a fridge. Spreading the butter ripped the warm bread, and the butter never melted, so it was basically bread and butter, not toast. Gotta say, though, I like bread and butter, and it was very good bread, and real butter.

Here's a disappointment, though. The menu said Hank came with hash browns and toast, and the industry standard for 'toast' is two slices of toasted bread. At Easy Street you get one slice of toast, cut in half. Why, you penny-pinching grinches. I was drawn by Easy Street's cheap prices, though, and if they're gonna sell a Hank for just $11 they gotta keeps costs low.

Then again, a Hank/Denver is $9.75 at Mrs Rigby's, where you get two slices of toast, and it's toasted, and buttered, too. Then again again, Hank's toast comes with very good pre-packaged raspberry jam. I didn't notice the brand but it was definitely better than the Smucker's at Mrs Rigby's. Just for the jam, I'll forgive the singular, untoasted toast.

After eating, you pay at your table. The tab was $14-something, which is less than I'd pay at Mrs Rigby's, but that's because at Rigby's I usually order a butterhorn, and eat it while my omelet's cooking. If I'd ordered a pastry at Easy Street, the total would've been a few bucks more than Rigby's.

And the service must be mentioned. All I ask of the waitstaff anywhere is, please pretend you don't hate me for being there. The waitress didn't pretend — there was no smile, no thanks, no giving a damn, and no sign of life until I said keep the change. Lots of coffee refills, though.

After one breakfast at my favorite record shop in Seattle, I'd say that except for the hash browns, it's a step down from Mrs Rigby's in every way. At Rigby's you get more and better food at a lower price and with a smile, so I'll be at Rigby's for breakfast until I can't afford to eat at a restaurant. Easy Street is a workable substitute, though, for holidays or maybe if I find myself hungry on that side of the city.

♦ ♦ ♦

Dean and I share a refrigerator at the boarding house, and he's marveled at the quantities of my celery. Usually there are four or five heads stacked up. Celery is my perpetual between-meal snack — low-calorie, high-crunch, and even better dipped into yogurt, salsa, french dip, peanut butter, beef stew, whatever.

On my Memorial Day bus ride home from Easy Street, we rolled past Ling's Produce, and I remembered that the celery supply at home was running low. Tragically, though, Ling's was closed for the holiday.

A few blocks south, another Asian market was open for business, so I went inside and remembered why I love Ling's. The celery was triple the price I wanted to pay, and anyway it looked limp. Everything in the store was expensive, except for a bin of fresh-fried somethings under a heat lamp, with a hand-written sign that said "$1 each" but didn't say what they were.

I asked a guy who was stocking fish, but I was the lone Caucasian in a busy shop, and English was not that guy's first or second language. The $1-each whatevers looked good, though — slightly smaller than an ordinary fruity or raisin muffin, and made with vegetables instead of fruit — chunks of carrot and corn were poking out. I bought two for $2 to test drive for lunch.

Ate 'em, liked 'em, and still don't know what they were. Other vegetables were inside, green stuff I didn't recognize, and it was way greasier than I'd expected — deep-fried instead of baked, or maybe the recipe included a quart of Crisco. I needed to wipe my fingers during and after, like eating fried chicken.

They were dang tasty, whatever they were, and greasy, and well worth a dollar each. If you're at Samway on 15th Avenue, tell 'em the fat white dude recommended the dollar deep-fried grease-infused veggie muffins.

5/31/2022  

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3 comments:

  1. Y'know what I miss? San Francisco Chinese bakeries. I tried a dozen, specifiacally, but not exclusively, for the pork buns. Also, the nmany other wonderful treats. Best mother fricking bakery in SF is Lung Fung on Clement. Cheap and *everything* is superlative, except for, like a custard roll thing that I didn't like.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I don't even remember pork buns, but I want half a dozen, right now.

    I sure do remember the bakeries in SF, though, on just about every block if you're in the right neighborhood. Most of the bake shops were very good and some were very cheap. I remember a huge one at 17th (maybe 18th) and Mission -- I must've dragged you there -- open daily from 5AM until they ran out of everything.

    Seattle isn't San Francisco, but there's a promising bakery a few blocks further than walking distance from my boarding house. Twice I've tried to try them, but first time I didn't know and second time I didn't remember, they're closed on Mondays and Tuesdays every week. Maybe today; I'm feeling pastry deprived.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Today I tried that bake shop, for the most expensive donuts I've ever eaten -- $2 each, and they were more doughy than sweet. Last time I bought donuts was about six months ago, at 75¢ each. Also, they don't take cash.

      Never again, Good Day Donuts. I said, good day.

      Delete

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