Never work before breakfast; if you have to work before breakfast, get your breakfast first.

--Josh Billings (1818-1885)

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Cubby Hole Cafe, Richmond, Illinois

I should have taken Mpls Jim's suggestion and not ordered biscuits and gravy in the North, but just wait until Shelby puts up his review of the Belgian waffle.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Egg Harbor Cafe, 210 S. Cook St., Barrington, Illinois

Tell me how good this is. Rumors of a big snow started on Wednesday. 1-3 inches in the Northwestern suburbs, they said. More in the South. The snowfall started early in the afternoon on Thursday, not a good sign since snow removal happens toot-sweet in Chicago, but the forecast had been changed to a possible 10 inches with the snow not letting up until Friday afternoon. Got up in the middle of the night to do a little snow dance, and it looked like it backfired on me. The clock went off at 5:15 and still no call. Took my shower and got all the way to clean socks and underwear at 6:03 AM before the call came for a SNOW DAY! Instead of going back to bed, I browsed my favorite news outlets and played a little online backgammon until everyone else got up.

Here's the best part. Our wonderful neighbors plowed our driveway for us, so we went out for breakfast at one of the most popular spots in town. We were greeted at the door with warm handshakes and hugs from our favorite waiter. We were seated by the space heater in the front room and served one fine breakfast. Practically had the place to ourselves.

I had a bacon, onion, tomato, and spinach skillet, two eggs over easy, an English muffin, and coffee with cream and lots of raw sugar--the kind in the little, brown wrapper. Remember, I don't really like coffee, just mocha-flavored sweet, warm milk, and it was cream in this case. Finished breakfast several hours ago, and I still feel comforted by the meal. I'm not really complaining, but I do feel duty-bound to say a couple of things: 1) I couldn't taste the bacon in my skillet, and 2) My eggs weren't as runny as I like them. I'm not going to criticize the coffee because who am I to say what's good or not. They serve a bacon and onion skillet, and I ordered an upgrade to a BOTS deal. Our waiter figured out the cheapest way to charge me for the additional ingredients, and I really appreciated that.

This place hops almost every day of the week. Lines can be out the door even on cold days, so plan accordingly. The scoring for my meal begins at 6.95 for the bacon and onion skillet. Remember, Shelby and I don't factor in sides and upgrades in the cost of the core meal. I'm knocking off a whopping .50 for superb service. Even though the coffee and water pitchers sat right in front of me, our waiter did most of the work, never pouring more than a cup of coffee in these giant clay mugs so that my coffee would stay hot. This was a good one! You'll have to wait for Shelby's review. He's snowmobiling with friends today. Final score 6.45

Scoring Guide

The best score a breakfast can receive is, of course, The Perfect $4.00. A base score is determined by the cost of the entree. That score could rise if the other factors that contribute to breakfast (service, atmosphere, and food quality, for example) warrant a penalty, scored in penalty pennies. The worst score a breakfast can receive is $10.00.

Theoretically, a breakfast could score better than a $4.00 if we walked in, were given the best seat in the place, got called by our names, were served pancakes, two eggs, bacon or sausage, and hash browns for $3.95 with great coffee or ice cold juice. But, if that happens, we won't tell a soul about it because we don't want a horde of other cheapskates messing up the place.

Let's say that Shelby ordered a plain Belgian waffle, a side order of bacon, and orange juice. Since the waffle cost $5.25 and the bacon and orange juice were sides, the breakfast's base score begins at $5.25, and Shelby could opt to begin the score at $5.00 if the conditions warranted it. If the service were bad, then Shelby might add a quarter penalty. If the seats were uncomfortable, he might add a dime, and if his syrup had that icky film on the top, he might add a nickel, resulting in a final score of $5.65. I have to say that $5.65 is a very respectable score.

Let us know how well the scoring guide works for you.