Breakfast epiphanies

What does one look for in a breakfast spot? Good strong coffee? Kick-butt potatoes? A hollandaise that makes your heart ache? Literally?

In my controlled studies, consisting of careful observations of 20- and 30-year-olds—from hip to square, artists to business types—in four major cities, I’ve come to two grand conclusions: 1) There are two types of people: breakfast eaters and non-breakfast eaters. 2) Of the former, there are two subgroups: homo matinus sucrosus and homo matinus saltus. These roughly translate into the sweet breakfast eater (pancakes and waffles) and the savory breakfast eater (meats, cheeses and vegetables with eggs).

To the homo matinus saltus, I recommend the Fox & Goose Public House. Named after a 200-year-old pub in northern England, Fox & Goose has an urban industrial yet pub-like feel. A former home to the Fuller Paint and Glass Company, the place has an industrial past, which manifests itself in high ceilings, exposed brick and pipe and warehouse-style glass. Yet splashes of stained glass and distressed wood floors make cozy what might otherwise be experienced as an aloof space.

What makes Fox & Goose a good choice for savory eaters are the myriad ingredients you can throw into an omelet or scramble. In the meat department, there’s grilled chicken breast, smoked salmon, ground beef, three types of sausage, two types of bacon, and one smoked ham. Also impressive are the cheeses: Welsh rarebit sauce, English cheddar, English stilton, feta, parmesan, cream cheese, mild cheddar, Monterey Jack and Swiss. Vegetable options fall into the category of “things that go on a pizza.” And in general miscellany there are marinated tempeh strips, avocado, walnut pesto and pepperoncinis. Clearly, the place could double as a pizza joint and salad bar with this list of ingredients—always a plus for homo saltus.

But the restaurant’s raison d’être isn’t just for the breakfast eater who loves lunch foods. It’s got a deeper reason for being that is true to its name: Fox & Goose is a haven for arch nemeses. The healthy and unhealthy, the meat eater and vegetarian can dine side by side in this pub. You order the tempeh strips and tofu patties. I’ll order the huge slabs of ham, and sirloin steak. You order the harvest grains—barley cracked wheat, wild and brown rice, apples and raisins, all with soy milk. I counter with two bangers and a nine-cheese omelet, including the rarebit cheese sauce.

Indubitably, Fox & Goose is a place where people of different faiths can break bread. But does it deliver bread worth breaking? Strange but fitting, the result is mostly up to you. For Fox & Goose is not just about the union of opposite tastes; it’s an exercise in self-determination—an expression of free will. My free will created a tofu scramble of tomatoes, spinach, mushrooms, red onions and rarebit sauce; then turning its back on vegetarianism, it asked for a side of bangers. The free will across from me chose a humbler, more trodden path of honey ham and eggs. Both our free wills were served English country potatoes, which came grilled with onions and bell peppers.

Are there waiters in heaven? Are there restaurants in heaven? Was our waiter trained at a restaurant in heaven? He might have been. Warm, friendly, with the ease of someone who makes food appear, our medium-strength coffees never got empty, never got cold. We weren’t rushed or ignored. We were, as they say, tended to, with each stage of the breakfast—from order to check—communicated with glances, smiles and a joke or two.

So what did our free wills really give us? Mine gave me a dish of healthy, fresh vegetables, sautéed to firmness and cut in optimal proportions, so you enjoyed them individually and then as a group. The firm tofu did an excellent job of tying together the disparate elements of a scramble. On the bangers, I could not really judge, being somewhat inexperienced in bangerology. I was told they were good, so suffice it to say, they were good—extra soft with a smoky breakfast sausage flavor.

Across the table, my partner’s free will was enjoying a great big slab of honey ham, tasty and tender, although not distinctly sweet with any honey glaze. Eggs, toast, and English muffin were standard affairs: Fluffy the first, crunchy the second and third. Everything was executed fairly well, save one flaw: lack of salt, or other savory flavor—at least not to the extent that homo saltus likes. The flaw showed up glaringly in the potatoes, which—though grilled with onions and peppers—were surprisingly bland. The tofu scramble, too, needed a boost of salt, pepper, paprika or zip. Whether this under-salting is an English thing, a health thing or one more aspect of self-determination, I do not know. But if that’s what it takes to be friends with the enemy, then so be it. It is a small price to pay for a place where all can dine.