Sunday, May 12, 2013

May 5, 2013 - We bring our moms to breakfast

The Harvest Room at 127th and Harlem sits where Mr. G's used to be.
I wonder what happened to Mr. G's juicer?
Dr. Nick had this wonderful idea. About a month ago he said "hey, we should surprise our moms with a breakfast blog." OK, I said. I guess we can do this since our moms got up early to feed us thousands of breakfasts over the years. From the healthy doses of prenatal placental slurry of pickles & ice cream byproduct to the mountains of eggs and bacon we ran to the kitchen in our ninja turtle pajamas to horf down, our mom's have definitely been the originators of our breakfast passion. So maybe it was time.

However I took the "surprise" aspect at its literal value and wanted to actually surprise my mom. Dr. Nick and Breakfast Scout Frank decided to inform their moms prior to the event, ensuring an orderly and enthusiastic arrival. However, I just had to be clever. So with 10 minutes to get the Harvest Room to meet everyone I'm still in my pajamas (no longer ninja turtle) wondering why my mom hasn't arrived yet to help me "plant a garden." Well, she soon texts me, she was on call last night and had to bake muffins and won't be over for about an hour.


"Mom, I should I have told you. We were planning a surprise breakfast blog. They're already at the restaurant." - I text.

"We're leaving now." - Mom

So I call Dr. Nick. I'm freaking out. Breakfast Scout Frank and his mom Judy have been at the Harvest Room for about 20 minutes, waiting for all of us. I tell Dr. Nick, "forget it. I'm out." After all, my mom lives about forty minutes away; they'll never make it in time. Dr. Nick, undettered to give his mom Teri a quality breakfast experience, says he's going to the Harvest Room. I hang up. I'm pissed at the world.

So, I'm texting Breakfast Scout Frank and I'm texting my mom. My mom texts me back. And then Breakfast Scout Frank. And then my mom. And then Breakfast Scout Frank.  Meanwhile, I'm taking an Irish shower and scurrying to find articles of clothing that don't smell like a brewery.

And in the tumult of the back and forth, we completely forgot about Brent.

As my mom, Dennis and I were racing to the Harvest Room at 127th and Harlem from different directions, Dr. Nick volunteered to kickoff the blog by taking the minutes. He pretty much kept at it even after I arrived so what follows is a sort of "dueling bajos" breakfast blog where Dr. Nick and I notice the same things and just pretty much overlap each other.

Brent is at home sitting and waiting to know when breakfast starts.

Sorry, Brent. Yay Breakfast!

10:50 a.m.: Frank and Judy arrive to reserve a table for six. -dr. n

10:54 a.m.: Phil isn't coming. Now they reserve a table for four. -dr. n

10:59 a.m.: OK. Phil is coming again. Table for six. -dr. n

11:17 a.m.: Dr. Nick and Teri arrive. -dr. n

11:19 a.m.: The waiter takes our drink order. We inform him that we expect three more coming. Phil, his mom and Dennis. -dr. n

11:20 a.m.: Discussion of the original plan of going to Hashbrowns of Cafe 111. -dr. n

11:21 a.m.: The ladies are talking about mom stuff. Frank is representing Rosie's with his t-shirt. -dr. n

11:22 a.m.: For some reason, Palos is having a marathon. Frank was perturbed with the road closings. -dr. n

11:31 a.m.: Phil finally arrives. He is in a huff. Dennis and Kate are dangerously racing down 294 to get here. -dr. n

(At this point both Phil and Dr. Nick are taking minutes.)
A special Mother's Day breakfast.
11:35 a.m.: There was a marathon? - p

11:36 a.m.: The moms are asking how come Mean Adam and Brent aren't here. - p

11:37 a.m.: Oh, we forgot Brent! - p

11:39 a.m.: My mom and Dennis arrive. - p

11:40 a.m.: Kate was making muffins the morning. - dr. n

11:42 a.m.: Kate's dogs are barking from her pilgrimage in Spain. - dr. n

11:43 a.m.: We don't know how to cook with saffron, the world's most expensive spice. - dr. n.

11:43 a.m.: Kate had a Spanish sherpa named Jose because of her foot ailments.  -dr. n

11:44 a.m.: Phil orders out of turn. He is reprimanded. -dr. n

11:44 a.m.: I ordered out of turn. Whoops. - p

11:45 a.m.:My mom was making muffins. - p

11:45 a.m.: We asked the waiter if we can keep the menu. We need to write down the food. - p

11:46 a.m.: Teri has this gay friend on facebook who puts all these pics of naked guys on there. It's kind of weird. He's a gay Swedish midwife drag queen.  - p

11:46 a.m.: I took about five minutes before Teri and my mom start talking shop. Nurses. - p

11:47 a.m.: Dr. Nick is talking about saffron and payaya. - p

11:50 a.m.: Cal Sag Sushi - Crab Cake Benedict - dr. n

11:50 a.m.: Dr. Nick on learning how to deliver babies: "I just watch where the head is." - p

11:51 a.m.: There is a woman breastfeeding over there. How apropos. - p

11:51 a.m.: Breastfeeding cannot wait. Teri says "when the baby is hungry, they're hungry!!" - dr.n

11:52 a.m.: "As we all turn our heads to look at her." - Judy.  - p

11:53 a.m.: Now the "mother talk" has started. Breastfeeding and such. Great. - p

11:55 a.m.: Now the conversations turn to how many times we peed on our moms. - p

11:55 a.m.: Frank was a generous giver of golden showers as a baby. - dr. n.

11:57 a.m.: Phil tells of the rigors of recording the minutes. When the blog hits the big time, a stenographer will be hired.- dr. n

11:58 a.m.: Teri goes to the bathroom. There is a huge buffer of empty tables around us. They probably think we are weird. - dr. n

11:59 a.m.: Janis Joplin is playing through the speakers in Harvest Room. "It doesn't fit the vibe," says Frank. - dr. n

11:59 a.m.: "Somehow, Janis Joplin doesn't fit the vibe in this place." - Breakfast Scout Frank - p

12:00 p.m.: Judy is worried about Breakfast Scout Frank cleaning the gutters. - p

12:00 p.m.: "What is this, Egypt?" - Kate on hauling water from the well. - dr. n

12:03 p.m.: Judy has a habit of spooking horses with flash photography.  - dr. n

12:04 p.m.: Food is here! - both

Teri orders biscuits and gravy with a side of sausage. She loves the sausage.

Judy gets pancakes and bacon. She likes her breakfast simple yet elegant

Breakfast Scout Frank gets the Hunters Breakfast with bacon straight from Gunthorp Farms, wherever that is.

Nick preempted me and gets the Crab Cake Benedict.
Now I have to get something else.
I wanted to pull a Mel and stab him with a fork.

I’m about to fire up my Smoke House Omelette.

Dennis orders french toast, which is surprisingly un-American of him.

My mom gets the Scotch Egg, hash browns, and holds up the toast.
12:05 p.m.: "I've never seen sausage this big," Teri commenting on her large sausage. - dr. n

12:07 p.m.: Last time Phil was in this building, he locked his keys in the car. - dr. n

12:13 p.m.: Dr. Nick is a popular topic of conversation at Judy's office. - p

The table is jam-packed.
12:14 p.m.: I didn't think I could have brisket for breakfast. Brisket for breakfast. Brisket for breakfast. -p

12:17 p.m.: All our moms agree that we were raised right. "Horn tooting abounds," says Dr. Nick. - p

12:18 p.m.: Dr. Nick's fiance, Dr. Kim, gave Teri a keyc hain that reads "Thank you for raising the man of my dreams." - p

12:19 p.m.: Everyone at table vomits. -p

12:20 p.m.: Judy poses today's question: "Which Disney character would you most want to breakfast with?"

Teri: "Cinderella because I want to ride in that pumpkin coach."

Judy: "Mary Poppins because she is practically perfect in ever way."

Breakfast Scout Frank: "Walt Disney's frozen head." That's a great pick.

Dr. Nick: "Capt. Jack Sparrow because I'm pretty sure I was a pirate in a past
life and he would teach me the perils of drinking rum in the morning."          

Southside Phil: "The Australian Pelicans from Finding Nemo."

Dennis: "Sleeping Beauty because she would leave alone."

My mom: "Simba from the Lion King because he would
keep me in shape because I would be breakfast."       

12:20 p.m.: Lunch mom talk. -p

12:21 p.m.: My mom is talking about a kid from kindergarten that she thinks had fetal alcohol syndrome. Apparently that's not when you get so drunk you pass out on the floor and curl up in a fetal position. - p

12:22 p.m.: I thought I had fetal alcohol syndrome last weekend. - p

12:23 p.m.: Our Lady of Loretto, mine and Frank's grammar school, got all the St. Bede's rejects. (See: Craig Laidlaw.) -p

12:24 p.m.: Catholic grammar school closing are depressing. Judy and Frank's dad walk about by our old school routinely.  -p

12:25 p.m.: One time Craig got his ears pierced.  -p

12:26 p.m.: Dr. Nick, Frank and I are now regaling the story of the Halloween when we drove down to Galesburg to visit Dr. Nick at Knox College and Craig got naked and Frank got punched. A computer was destroyed and we had to drive three and a half hours home. - p

12:27 p.m.: More stories about Craig. Those stories could fill up an entire breakfast blog, but that's for the next breakfast.  -p

The Harvest Room is a bit of an anomaly in the southwest side. It’s one of those places that would be more easily spotted in the city than out here. Bypassing the wholesale produce of more “normal” restaurants, the Harvest Room prides itself on purchasing organic ingredients from local farms. It’s definitely a step up from the former tenant, Mr. G’s Pancake Factory.

Probably the best water vessel we've
seen so far at a breakfast.                
What’s really interesting is how quickly and recently a wave of what I call “hipster-influenced” dining experiences have trickled our way from areas like Wicker Park and Roscoe Village. Already, two new brew pubs opened up on Western Ave, which we have yet to check out.  The Harvest Room just adds to that trend of originality, locality and do-it-yourselfness that harks back to an age long suppressed by suburban stagnation and commercialization

As for the breakfast experience:

My mom liked the service. They were especially accommodating when half the group was late on a busy Sunday morning. I think she spoke for most of us when she said the coffee was a bit weak. However, she had to admit “I don’t get a scotch egg every day of the week.”

Dennis gave the whole experience a 6 because the “company was so excellent.” Dennis can suck up with the best of them.

Teri loved the sausage. Just loved it. She tore it shreds. “If I got just the sausage I would have given this place a 5.”

Judy thought everything was OK. She did comment on how excellent the water was because it came out of a decanter.
Crab Cake Benedict is highly recommended.
Nick thought his eggs were very fresh and were poached perfectly. “This was probably one of the best crab cakes I’ve ever had.” I can attest to that because I tried some of Dr. Nick’s and it was amazing. Very good stuff. I think that’s the recommended dish from this breakfast blog. 

My Smoke House omelette was pretty fantastic. It was a little on the small side, but the smoked brisket, provolone and caramelized onions all popped with flavor. And that’s what you get with really fresh ingredients, you can actually taste them. The breakfast experience because more than just a mouthful of eggs and cheese.
All in all, we strongly recommend you check out the Harvest Room. It gets a rating of 4 Brent faces.

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