Okay, so it’s been awhile since I last breakfasted anywhere worth mentioning, much.
In Jackson, Mississippi, there’s Primo’s, a nice little spot in the Flowood section of town with stiff wooden booths, adjoined by 50’s-looking, formica tables. The food’s not bad; it’s just not that noteworthy–and neither is the ambience. Scrambled eggs, biscuits, toast, coffee dispensed from an assortment of vague urns, and an omelette here and there: nothing’s really standout about Primo’s. However, the staff was friendly, and I was told that in its heyday Primo’s was just that: an exceptionally fine place to dine casually in a friendly environment while enjoying spiffy table service with a bit of yesteryear’s “we’re glad you’re here” enthusiasm. Times have changed, although the old black-and-white photos of days gone by still adorn the walls. While looking at those toothsome smiles and crisply-starched white cotton shirts and paper hats, one gets a sense that Primo’s was at one time something to write home about. B- (I truly want to like these folks)
Then, there’s Broadstreet Bakery. Reformed hippies, their long hair (now greying) tied back respectably, work alongside cute dance students from nearby Belhaven. Eggs? Typically scorched. Toast? Decidedly un-toasted. Real butter for your bread (this is a bakery, after all)? Not unless you ask for it–and are very, very specific. Otherwise, you’re left with the cheapy-artificial-processed-food-whip on the table to push around your slice of un-toasted toast. So why the appeal? Ahem. Situated within an unusual storefront that resembles an outlet mall and a Disney attraction that houses a “catch-all” of chichi shops (and a bookstore!), Broadstreet has become a kind of hip-mecca: a place to sit around, feel cool, and imbibe the unctuous vibe of being well-manicured and in-the-know while you scarf down your scorched scrambled eggs.
How’s that for a mouthful? Food? C+ Vibe? B+ (given begrudgingly)
Want another? Okay, here goes: Corner Bakery Café. The name already makes me tired and confused and distrustful. What is this place? A bakery? A café? A corner? It’s a Perkins, with a lot more burnished wood and, yep, coffee in nondescript urns. So much for table service. And in keeping with its nondescript theme, pretty much every dish is a mish-mash of eggs (instant?) whipped into some kind of casserole “scramble” of bacon or sausage or red peppers. In fact, the restaurant’s trademark touch seems to be that these breakfast dishes are served in little black-iron skillet-y things. And while that almost sounds interesting, the restaurant’s ambiance and food are sort bundled up in a “quick-to-go” kind of presentation, failing to convey the “come, occupy, and sit and relax, and make us your new home-away-from-home” attitude that its gobbledygook of a name seems to hint at. On the other hand, that goobledygook name works perfectly as a metaphor for the bric-a-brac breakfast entrées. C- – (am I being too strong?)
So after all this culinary mayhem, what awaits? Another stopoff in my favorite Southern city, Memphis.