Monday, September 26, 2016

Another Broken Egg Cafe

Another Broken Egg Cafe
65 S. Highland
(901) 623-7122


On Saturday morning, I drove to Mike Rose Soccer Complex in Collierville at 8am to watch Jiro play in a soccer tournament. After the game, he was starving. He recently got a phone with service, so on our ride back to Midtown, he started looking for places to eat breakfast. "How about Bryant's?" he asked. "No, Brother Juniper's," he said.

"Both of those places are going to be mobbed at 10am on a Saturday," I said.

"Oh," he said, in a merpy kind of way.

"We can drive by and see," I said. "I can wait if you can."

So on to Brother Juniper's we went. There weren't many people outside, so I got hopeful. We parked and then once inside I remembered that they built an entire room for people to wait in. The hostess said it would be about 45 minutes. Not terrible, but also not do-able. "Let's try that Broken Egg Cafe," I suggested to Jiro.

"How far away is it?" he asked.

"Just down the street," I said. "Where El Porton used to be."

Sold!

Now, I can't say that I was really dying to try this place despite a few people, including my mother, telling me how good it was. I just knew it wasn't my kind of place. But, they have restaurants in 12 states, so clearly there are plenty of folks who consider it their kind of place.

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It was pretty crazy crowded when we got there, but we were seated right away. I'd say the interior has been opened up a bit since El Porton was there, so inside has a lot of seating. There's also still the massive patio and seats at the bar. (Yes, full bar.)

It really feels like a place in another town, if that makes any sense. Like a place you eat at on a road trip. A Howard Johnson's maybe? It just has a very generic vibe going on.

We were right by the kitchen so there was a lot of hustle and bustle, but it was ok. A waitress came right over for our drink orders and easily talked us into starting with an order of City Grits ($3.89). The description included the words garlic and gouda, but Jiro was not deterred.

The waitress also asked if we had any questions about the menu, which was huge, and explained that it was a little different than other places. "We're a California style Louisiana kitchen," she explained.

Okaaay...

"They have beignets," I noted.

"Biscuit beignets," Jiro corrected me. "It's like they took two good things and combined them into something disgusting."

Harsh!

Jiro ultimately decided on the Cinnamon French Toast ($10.59) and I went with the Southwest Scramble ($10.89.)

The grits came out and Jiro said, "Will you help me pick off the tomatoes?"

"Just push them over to my side," I said.

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"These are delicious," Jiro said between bites.

I had to agree. "These are either the best grits ever or we are just starving."

We plowed through them and then I don't think either of us was really hungry anymore. (Note to self, stop ordering appetizers!)

While we waited on the rest of the food, I marveled at their drink menu.

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Party at Another Broken Egg!

I hadn't had any coffee yet and I was tempted to order one of these.

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Next time!

Out came the food. It was okay.

I think Jiro ate about four bites of his before declaring it too sweet. (Shocking!)

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I offered him some of mine, and he did a pretty good job of polishing off my potatoes. (His original reason for wanting a sit down breakfast was so he could get some hashbrowns.)

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My scramble was ok. It was definitely massive. The guac was inedible. All in all, it was fine.

Our total was $27.72 plus tip.

I can't see us ever going back, unless it's to get that frozen coffee and beignet and bacon drink (lol), but if you are in a pickle and need food fast, this is your place. They serve breakfast and lunch all day. And the service is pretty darn good.

On our ride home, Jiro let out a little gas and I said, "Another broken egg, huh?" So, yeah, at least I got a good joke out of the experience.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Kitchen

The Kitchen
Shelby Farms Park
415 Great View Drive East, Ste. 101
(901) 729-9009


I got an invite to try brunch at The Kitchen last week. It was their soft opening, and therefore free of charge. My mom and my niece joined me and the monkeys (Satchel, 14, and Jiro, 12).

It took us all a minute to find it. I had just assumed it was where the Visitor's Center was/is, but it's actually around the lake a bit. And I didn't realize it had its own entrance off of Walnut Grove. Anyways, it was pretty easy to figure out where it was once I narrowed down where it wasn't.

It's huge.

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The inside is lovely and the patio is definitely the thing of patiosexuals' dreams.

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We dined outside, which was lovely, but a bit windy. We had to hold our menus with both hands to keep them from flying away!

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(The dinner menu is here.)

The waitress took our drink orders and everyone went with water. I decided against a cocktail in favor of ice coffee. The waitress said they didn't actually have ice coffee but they could pour regular coffee over ice for me. I told her it was no problem and that I could drink hot coffee.

A few moments later she brought out ice coffee, which was perfect.

It took us a minute to decide on our food order as it seemed everyone wanted to have a unique order. In the end, the monkeys went with the Farmers Breakfast (your standard eggs, bacon, toast, etc.) ($13), my niece and I with the Gulf Shrimp salad ($16), and my mom chose the Pasta Bolognese ($18) with the sauce on the side (only because she hasn't been feeling well).

I can't remember what we talked about while we waited for the food because it came out super fast. Soon (almost) everyone was all smiles.

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Turns out they brought three farmers breakfasts and only one shrimp salad, so I took a farmers breakfast for the team.

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"Oh, the eggs are just the way I like them," I noted. Then noticed that the monkeys both had their eggs over easy too.

"They never asked how to cook the eggs," Jiro said, clearly wishing his were scrambled, though he didn't complain. (He just didn't eat them.)

The shrimp salad was very pretty and I did get a taste of it.

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The pasta looks a little naked, but even so, my mom loved it. The sauce on the side was super delicious, she just couldn't tolerate it.

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Satchel also had a side of grits ($4), which were served with apples, raisins, brown sugar and cream. I think maybe the Kitchen has grits confused with oatmeal? Anyways, he said they were ok. He was hoping for the standard kind with butter or cheese. (They actually have grits listed under sweets as Breakfast Grits and as a side as Hannah Farm Grits, so maybe he just wasn't clear enough when he ordered?)

I asked everyone how they liked their meals and everyone was pleased, but I thought it was funny that Jiro pointed out that he could have the same breakfast a lot cheaper elsewhere. I explained that the Kitchen is all about supporting local farmers and doing the eco-friendly thing, and that it adds up.

It really adds up! Though our brunch was complementary, we did see the check: $92.

So, I've been trying to think of scenarios in which I'd go back to the Kitchen. One of their other goals is to be a neighborhood meeting place. That seems like a stretch considering the location. Maybe I'd meet someone from Collierville half way? Go after a long bike ride? When someone else is paying? (Kidding. Sort of.) Maybe just have a drink? I'm not sure yet.

I peeked in at the Kitchenette, which is the Kitchen's grab-n-go spot in the Visitor's Center. I think it will definitely get a lot of business.

Y'all tell me what you think.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

DWJ #2

DWJ #2
2156 Young Avenue
901-207-6204


I've had DWJ on my go to list for about two years. It's out in Southwind or some place far away, but supposedly has private karaoke rooms like in that movie with Bill Murray. Anyways, DWJ#2 opened up in the old Greencork space in Cooper-Young last Monday (9/12). On Wednesday, I told the monkeys (Satchel, 14 and Jiro, 12) that we were going to walk down for dinner. "How far is it?" Jiro whined. "Is it on Cooper?" asked Satchel.

We made it the three blocks without too much trauma, but you'd be surprised how hard it is for three people, two of them teenagers (ish), to share a sidewalk.

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On our way there, I got a text from Warren about dropping off the kids' bag, so I ended up inviting him to join us.

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Inside the restaurant was very nice and full of Cooper-Youngians. There weren't any karaoke rooms that I could see. I guess Mulan kinda has a corner on that market in Cooper-Young. (Literally! Ha!)

We tackled the menu while we waited on Warren.

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I asked the waitress for help decoding, but she said it was her first day. So, she sent out the manager. Or maybe the chef? Anyways, he wasn't too much help either, but he did make some suggestions. I asked about cooking at the table, and he said it was for three or more and sort of guided us towards letting the kitchen do the cooking. That was fine by me.

"Mom, you need to up your Korean game," Satchel advised.

When the waitress came back, I ordered a couple of appetizers since Warren still hadn't made it. I decided on the Goonmandu, which is a tofu based dumpling, and the Kimbap, which is a Korean version of sushi. Each was $10.

Warren finally arrived and it became clear that we had a celebrity in our midst. Or that Warren had a jump on his Halloween costume.

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When we finally stopped laughing, we put in the rest of our order. And laughed some more.

Then came the apps. The dumplings were really good. They tasted more meaty than tofu-y.

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The monkeys were a little spooked by the green onions, so Warren and I ate most of them.

The Kimbap was also quite delicious. (I had seen it on someone else's table, otherwise I might never have ordered it.)

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The monkeys liked it too, but both poked out the pickled daikon and cucumber.

We had a lively conversation about bullying at school and in general all enjoyed each other's company while we waited for the rest of the food. It was weird! But obviously good weird.

Honestly, I was pretty much full at this point. But I took one for the team and kept eating!

My Dolsot Bibimbap ($11.00) was super pretty.

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It was lacking a little umami, or something. I don't usually get it with tofu, so maybe that was it? I needed to add a lot of hot sauce and I wished the egg wasn't all the way cooked when it came out. It was good, but not as good as Kwik Check.

Warren got the Donkatsu ($12.00), which is close to his standard pork tonkatsu that he always orders at Japanese restaurants. He also got a .50 side of kimchi.

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He liked it and had to keep Satchel from stealing most of it. I thought Satchel's Daeji Bulgogi ($14.00) was the best. It was spicy and full of flavor.

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Jiro's Chadolbaki ($14.00) was a bit of a zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz, but perfect for someone who doesn't like spice, I suppose.

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When we were all done, the waitress brought our check and a little present for each of us. Awww...

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Inside there was some candy and a little charm. We told the monkeys to save them for their girlfriends. (They don't have girlfriends. So, you know, it was hilarious.)

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Our total was $78.11 plus tip, which was waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay more than I set out to spend on dinner on a Wednesday night. But, we did order waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too much food. Next time, we keep ourselves in check.

Friday, September 09, 2016

Shake Shack

Shake Shack
12 S Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60603
312.646.6005


I'll be honest. I didn't know why Shake Shack was a big deal, only that it was. My friend, Nina, who lives in Chicago told me that I should take the monkeys there if we were going to Millennium Park. (Thanks to the power of the internet, I now see that this national chain started off as a hot dog cart in New York's Madison Square Park in 2001. Well, dang!)

The one we went to is across the street from the park in the ground floor of the newly refurbished Chicago Athletic Association.

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When we got there, the monkeys (Satchel, 14 and Jiro, 12) weren't actually hungry, so we went to the Game Room on the second floor. There the monkeys played foosball, shuffle board and chess while I listened to baseball and enjoyed a pint.

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After an hour or so, we went back down. There was a line, but it seemed to be moving fast. Satchel was still insisting that he wasn't hungry so I told him I didn't care if he ate. The menu is basically burgers, hot dogs, fries and concoctions made from frozen custard.

When Satchel saw that there were actually menu items for dogs, he said he wanted a Pooch-ini (a dog biscuit with peanut butter sauce and vanilla custard).

"Uh, no," I said. (In hindsight I missed an opportunity to make him eat a dog biscuit! WTF!)

He eventually said he'd have a strawberry shake. "Oh, thank you!" I said.

Jiro saw a picture of a double cheeseburger and cheese fries and was sold. He also wanted a Bang Bang Pie Oh My malt. Well, alright!

I was suddenly running short on time before we had to order, so I missed the fact that they had Stumptown Coffee. And beer! And wine! (Both exclusively made for the Shack.) Heck, yeah.

I decided to try the 'shroom burger (crisp fried portabella with meunster cheese) with fries. I went ahead and ordered a regular burger just in case Satchel changed his mind. "I'm not eating that," he whispered in my ear.

"I know. I am," I replied.

We got a number and then started looking for a table. We had to hover for a minute or two before pouncing on a recently vacated booth. Once secured, I went off to find the ladies room (which ended up being on another floor). By the time I got back, the food was ready and the monkeys had been dispatched to get it.

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That's what $42 looks like at the Shake Shack, y'all.

Look closely and you can see that Satchel is already regretting his decision to not order any food.

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"I'm eating this burger," he said, reaching for the extra one.

"Uh, huh," I said and gave him my TOLDYA look.

Let's talk about the 'shroom burger.

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I would say it was a good idea in theory. Portabellas can be hard to bite through and this one was no exception. They have to be cooked just right to be served whole on a piece of bread. I ate about half of it and then polished off the regular burger when Satchel once again declared he wasn't hungry.

The regular burgers, excuse me Shackburgers, are pretty freaking good. Nothing fancy, but just right on. And even better are the fries. Like move over McDonald's good. I have never had such a perfectly crinkly fry. YUUUUMMMM.

Jiro could not finish his cheese fries, so Satchel and I pitched in. Honestly, the cheese just ruins the perfectly delicate crunch of the uber crinkle.

I tasted both shakes. Very good.

And that's about it.

I do need to share one final thing that I learned on the internet. The Shack Shake hosts a free community fitness club on the second Tuesday of every month, called Shack Track & Field. Runs are 3-5 miles and open to all ages and abilities. Runs end with a free drink back at the Shack. That includes beer.

I like.

Shake Shack Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Eggsperience

Eggsperience
35 W Ontario Street
Chicago, IL 60654


Satchel (14) really didn't want to go to Chicago. He wanted to stay in Memphis and hang out with his friends. Luckily, one of his friends (the rabbi's grandson = TRG), raved about the Tommy Boy skillet at Eggsperience. Suddenly, Satchel had a raison d'etre.

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Our first order of business on Sunday was breakfast at Eggsperience. It was downtown and close to the other things we wanted to do (Cloud Gate, Sky Deck, etc.). We called an Uber and got dropped off right at the door. Despite there being a ton of people waiting, we got a table right away. Satchel was in the best mood I probably have ever seen him in since he turned 11.

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Once we got our menus, Jiro got very serious. "Is this place vegan?" he asked.

Before I could answer, Satchel, now the expert, said, "Vegans don't eat eggs, you stupid wonton."

(Satchel likes to make fun of Jiro for being Asian.)

I gave him THE LOOK.

We had a brief primer on vegans versus vegetarians and then went back to the menus. Satchel already knew he wanted the Tommy Boy skillet ($11.99). (Actually Tommy Boy's skillet. That's kind of funny, right? In hindsight I regret not calling it the Pony Boy skillet just to annoy him.)

Jiro wanted the basic breakfast with eggs, bacon, hashbrowns, toast, pancake, etc. ($7.49) I went with a new menu item, the breakfast tacos ($11.49). And an ice coffee. The waitress explained that they just pour regular coffee over ice, and I said that was fine. Then when she left, I simply mentioned that I would like to find a really good coffee shop somewhere. (There was an Intellegentsia place in our hood but I found it at 9pm.)

Then Satchel said, "I don't like you complaining about the coffee at the place I really want to eat at. If I hear one more complaint I'm jumping off the Sky Deck."

He really can be funny when he isn't acting like an a-hole.

Then he started a soliloquy. "This is going to be the best meal of my life. If I am ever on death row, this is the meal I will request."

Seriously, dude?

The rabbi is influencing my life in ways I never knew he would.

Ok, the food.

Satchel happily Snapchatted his then ate every bite.

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I thought it would actually come in a sizzling skillet, but whatever. THE TEEN WAS HAPPY.

Jiro's looked good AND he shared his pancake. Win.

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After eating everything else, he asked, "Can I eat this orange?"

Mine was tasty as well.

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I couldn't finish it, and when the waitress asked if I wanted a box, I smiled and said, "Nope." Mostly because we were going to be walking around all day and that would just be dumb to take it with. Well, Satchel thought this was rude and started lecturing me. "You need to respect all of the Eggsperience workers!"

We paid at the register and then I made a visit to the ladies room. That is when I realized how freaking huge the restaurant was. I bet it seats 300 people. They also have seven locations. So, TRG was definitely on to something.

Eggsperience Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

The Chicago Diner

The Chicago Diner
Logan Square
2333 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 252-3211, ext. 1


The Chicago Diner has been meat free since '83. Other than the big sign on the back wall, there isn't really anything that makes it look too different than a regular restaurant...which is how I tricked the monkeys (Satchel, 14 and Jiro, 12) into eating there on our recent trip to Chicago.

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We'd been at the baseball game all day, and the monkeys were hungry. I told them I'd already found a place to eat close to our apartment. Once we regrouped, we walked over. It was close to 7:00pm when we got there and the hostess said it would be about a 30 minute wait. The monkeys moaned a bit, but I assured them that it would probably be closer to 15. (I had no way of knowing this, but I felt like it was a good thing to say.) I knew that having to wait would increase the buy in should the menu alert them to the fact that we were in a vegan establishment. (Technically everything is vegan or has a vegan option.)

We waited on a bench by the hostess stand and did some people watching. The fact that a lot of people were coming and going was good. The monkeys were not suspicious. After awhile we were seated in an open booth--there was another group "sharing" it with us. All of their food looked really good. Our server brought the menus and I braced myself.

Satchel immediately zoned in on the "Special Recipe Wings" (seitan "wings" with our vegan ranch & celery. bbq or spicy buffalo style).

"Should I get bbq or spicy buffalo?" he asked me.

I told him I thought that buffalo was more what he was used to. Then I added, "They won't have any bones."

He nodded and then moved on to the salads. "What's tempeh?" he asked.

"I make that at home," I said. "I put in the cauliflower wraps that you like."

Again he nodded and then said he wanted to add a Caesar salad to his order. "Wait, that's going to be $20," he said.

"Since when do you care about spending all of my money?" I asked, shocked.

"Well, you did spend $30 on beer at the baseball game!" he replied.

(Hmmm...is that all it takes? The more I openly drink in front of them, the less money of mine they will want to spend?)

All the while, Jiro, who was facing the giant "Meat Free" sign, had been looking the menu over. "What should I get?" he asked.

I had already scanned ahead for him, and suggested THE TITANIC BLT BURGER. (Our veggie seitan patty topped with seitan bacon & french fried onions, lettuce, tomato & Chipotle FireTM sauce.) He looked at it and said, "Ok, I'll ask them to take the onions off."

At this point I realized that neither monkey actually reads the menu. Satchel scans for the word "wings" and Jiro looks for "onions."

Then I suggested to Jiro that he get a side of waffle fries. This made Satchel look at the sides and he asked, "What's Macaroni & Teeze?"

"It's a kind of cheese," I said.

I have to admit that at this point I was having so much fun. They had no idea! Hahahaha!!

Personally, I was torn between the taco salad and the avocado tostadas. Eventually I went with the taco salad. When we ordered the waiter asked me if I wanted vegan cheese or dairy cheese. "Dairy," I replied.

STILL NO ALARM BELLS FROM THE MONKEYS.

While we waited on the food, Satchel said, "I think everyone in here is wearing skinny jeans." I think that was praise because he followed with, "Memphis doesn't have a place like this. Memphis is ghetto."

So shortly after, our food came out. The lighting was low, so I had that going for me. Jiro's burger and fries looked pretty standard though, so he just dug in.

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My salad looked delicious, not suspicious.

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(YES, I KNOW THESE PICTURES SUCK.)

And then there were the wings.

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Satchel took a look. Then a bite. Then another. Then he said, "They're weird."

"I've never seen them like this before," he said after the next bite.

Finally, he asks, "What is this?"

Casually I responded, "I think it's seitan."

"Oh," he says. "What kind of meat is seitan?

I had to hold in a major giggle.

"Is it even chicken?" he asked.

"I think it's a tofu product," I said between bites of delicious taco salad. [It's a wheat product, I'm told.]

"It's very peculiar," he said.

By now, Jiro had eaten most of his burger and fries and Satchel had declared the wings too spicy to eat. But he swore he was full, so ok. I finished and then they started to get antsy about missing the movie we were going to see. Satchel started looking around for the waiter and that's when he noticed the "Meat Free" sign.

"Oh my god, is this a vegan restaurant?" he asked me.

I couldn't help laughing, and replied, "Yes."

"Did you know?" he asked incredulously.

"Um, yes," I replied.

He seemed genuinely impressed that I had pulled one over on him. "That's why he asked you about the vegan cheese!"

It was all coming together for him.

"When I see 'wings' I just immediately think chicken!" Satchel laughed. "Good job, Mom."

Jiro, on the other hand, looked stricken. "What did I just eat?" he asked.

"I think yours was seitan too," I said.

Even though he had NO idea and he enjoyed it, he looked crushed. "I regret eating here," he said.

The Chicago Diner Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

The Beauty Shop

The Beauty Shop
966 S. Cooper
901-272-7111


My friend and photographer, Chip Chockley, does a family photo shoot for me each year and then we take him to lunch. This year I thought it would be fun to just combine the two.

I chose the Beauty Shop because it has become a favorite of mine since moving to Cooper Young in 2014. I am a semi-regular at Sunday brunch, especially on sunny (read: patio) days, and am often there (or next door at DKDC) on weekend nights. I've only done regular weekday lunch a few times, but felt pretty sure the monkeys could find something they liked.

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It was too cold to sit outside, so we got a booth inside. I love the decor--the old hair dryers, the mirrors, everything.

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Everyone was hungry, so we perused the menu. Satchel (13) immediately said, "I want to hear all of the specials." Our waiter, Jacob, went through the daily pasta, the daily grilled cheese, the daily crepe and the daily veggie. I think at some point they all became a little too fancy, so he ordered a cheeseburger.

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Then Jiro (11) ordered a cheeseburger.

And then so did Chip!

What.The.F...

"Dudes," I said. "Really?"

Satchel decided to take one for the team and changed his order to watermelon & wings. I was surprised he didn't go for that right away, but he doesn't like watermelon. I explained that he didn't have to eat that part, and Jacob noted that they were out of watermelon so it would come with cantaloupe anyway. Sold!

I typically get the Thai steak salad, but decided to try something different since I was being a pain in the ass about what everyone else ordered. I went with the fish club. Then I added a coffee and some oil cured olives as a starter.

Then we enjoyed each other's company.

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No, first I asked everyone to put away their phones. Then we enjoyed each other's company. We were discussing double joints.

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The restaurant started to fill up, and we happily had an unexpected visit with the Harpers.

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Soon after, the food started coming out. The cheeseburgers got the thumbs up, naturally.

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The fish club didn't look too exciting, but it had a lot of flavor thanks to the fried green tomato on there.

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The wings were the total show stopper.

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Satchel dug right in, despite not being thrilled about the blue cheese.

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He was soon covered in sauce and needed some assistance.

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Everyone seemed pretty happy and plates were becoming empty. I had kind of forgotten about the olives, but they did eventually arrive at the table. I was too full to eat many, but they were delicious.

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I had told Jiro about the yummy beignets on many occasions, but we weren't able to get any. ("Only on Sunday," according to Jacob.) So, I asked Jiro if anything else on the daily dessert menu appealed to him.

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We eventually decided to split a nutella and banana crepe. Then Satchel threw in a last minute plea for a slice of red velvet cake. Both were good, but the crepe was definitely the winner.

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I paid the tab, which was definitely more than I'd spend on a regular lunch, but it was well worth it.

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Then we headed back home.

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I'll definitely take the monkeys back for brunch.

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All photos by Chip Chockley except this one! Thanks, Chip!

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Beauty Shop Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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