Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Brother Juniper's

Guest blogger RJA seems to be establishing a pattern of taking his children who behave better than mine to restaurants and then writing better reviews of said restaurants than me. (Exhibit A, Exhibit B). That's fine, but until his children start eating more sugar or start acting crazy on their own accord, please do not refer to them as monkeys. They are on probation!

Brother Juniper’s College Inn
3519 Walker Avenue

This weekend we found ourselves in the odd position of having only two of The Quartet with the other two spending the night at their grandparents’ house. So we decided to take JP and GK to a place we’d never taken kids before, Brother Juniper’s College Inn. Brother Juniper’s always seemed like a place that was not kid-friendly what with their mixture of older, childless neighborhood denizens and post-coital college students. In fact, I don’t recall ever having seen a kid there before. Kristy and I used to go before we had any kids and we’ve been a few times recently when we’ve both had mornings off and the kids were at school, but it has long been one of our favorite breakfast haunts.

I didn’t know what to expect as this was the first dining out experience for GK (at only two weeks old) and with Juniper’s being famous for their wait list. It was a Sunday, though, and I don’t know that we’d ever been there since they began opening on Sundays. This morning’s wait was no exception, however, and we had to stand outside for 10 minutes or so. A hostess/waitress offered us a table outside, where they have a beautiful garden, but it was already 90 degrees and I don’t eat eggs and drink coffee out in 90-degree weather. When we were finally seated, it was in the back room. Sitting in The Back Room of Brother Juniper’s feels like being relegated to the kids’ table at my great-grandmother’s house. It’s like waiting on a limo but a cab shows up instead. It’s like expecting the Rat Pack but getting just Peter Lawford. I just knew the front room was full of cool people, all laughing at those of us in The Back Room. It was all very high-school-cafeteria feeling. But one thing I did notice on our humiliating walk to The Back Room was all of the kids. They were everywhere, even in The Back Room.

The waiter, who has been there forever, and who I always imagine is a philosophy major at the University and, therefore, will always be a waiter at Brother Juniper’s, asked if we wanted to turn a high chair over to set GK’s car seat/carrier in. It’s nice when a waiter automatically knows this trick. He was quick to bring us waters, though with no lid on JP’s, and to get our drink orders, too. I drink my coffee the way coffee is meant to be drunk, black, which is also how I order it, yet he brought a mug with a spoon already in it. This is something small that bothers me, but it gives the appearance of the mug having been picked up off a table that was only recently vacated and not bussed.

I was in the mood for something light, something with fruit, but this is scarce at Juniper’s. Or I thought it was until after I ordered my Veggie Delight Omelet (chocked full of roasted red peppers, green onions and mushrooms) and noticed a Specials board promoting a Belgian waffle topped with fresh fruit. Next time I’ll get over my Back Room funk quickly enough to look around for things such as this. Kristy ordered the #3 – scrambled eggs with pesto, roasted red peppers and mozzarella – and enjoyed it immensely as she always does. For JP, bacon. GK is still on the breast. My omelet was a little flavorless, even with all of those ingredients, so I added some chipotle powder which was on the table and that helped to brighten it up. The home fries were good and crunchy, though Juniper’s is one of those restaurants that offers only the generic Red Gold catsup. The straun toast, as always, was delightful.

I said that I never suspected Juniper’s to be kid-friendly, but it turns out it is in spades, which probably shouldn’t be a surprise considering the owners, the Koplins, are parents themselves and their kids have grown up working around, and hanging out in, the restaurant. I don’t mean that they have a playland or anything, but I did see a waitress putting Legos off a table back into a bucket full of other toys. We didn’t get into the toy bucket but while Kristy and I ate (this next part is for Stacey) JP played happily with his utensils after eating his breakfast and GK slept peacefully the whole time, bored by her first restaurant experience. It’s good to know, however, that those toys are there.

Our favorite family breakfast place has always been CafĂ© Francisco in The Pinch District downtown, but I now have the courage – I think – to try taking The Quartet to Brother Juniper’s for a nice change. I only wish we could call ahead for reservations, or to warn them we’re all coming, anyway.

Don't forget to read my Brother Juniper's review

Brother Juniper's College Inn on Urbanspoon


Anonymous said...

Now who's showing off, Mr. Perfect Children Man?

Unknown said...

On probation?! Give a girl a little space in the Memphis Flyer and she goes around making new rules. Miss Fancy Pants restaurant reviewer.

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