I stood there in front of the completely packed restaurant with the cool name feeling a bit dejected. The opportunities for me to dine with my wife and all 4 of my children are very few, and very far between. We only had a few brief hours to spend with my son so I wanted it to be as special as possible.
The brief time that I stood in front of this place, I had a myriad of thoughts and revelations about it in just a few short moments. My first thought was that I have to go back and try this place one day because it must be freakin phenomenal. The fact that there was not an empty seat at any table, nor an empty stool at the bar at 11:30 on a Thursday morning in late September was a pretty solid testimony. I at first thought the young lady was kidding when she said it would be a 2 hour wait, but as I looked around, I could see where that might be possible. That just wasn’t feasible. I don’t like waiting 2 hours between meals, let alone for the one that’s slated to be going inside of my face at that very moment. Now that I think back on it, it probably was not the most kid friendly place either. I say this for a few reasons. The first is that as my party of 6 (only half of whom have eclipsed the 3 foot tall mark) approached the front desk, everyone within 40 feet shot us a glance as if we had just walked in the door wearing HAZMAT suits and juggling squirrels. The second is that there seemed to be an almost palpable sense of relief upon our departure amongst the alarmingly high number of bar stool occupants who despite the early hour seemed to be in at least the second frame of the cocktail portion of their day.
Barely 24 hours into a week long journey and I am failing miserably at providing my family with proper sustenance. The six of us stood on the sidewalk contemplating our next move. My 9 year old looked at me, pointed to her left and asked; “what about that place Dad?” Exactly 2 doors down from this place was a little café kind of joint. There were about a half dozen or so tables outside in front of this place with a cast iron railing separating them from the sidewalk. We walked the 15 paces it took to get there to check it out. In addition to the outdoor seating, there was a smattering of indoor tables as well. They were a little close together for my taste, but they were most certainly making the most of the space they had to work with. As we peered in through the windows deciding whether or not to try it, almost everything about the place intrigued me.
It looked really laid back, which would make it seemingly the antithesis of the place we’d just left. The décor was what I can best describe as lazily eclectic and a bit artsy. The servers had no uniform; they just wore whatever they wanted, and the place overall just looked inviting. Little did I know as we walked through the front doors of the crowded, noisy, hip eatery with the high ceilings and unique décor that Mayfel’s would subsequently become one of my favorite restaurants I’ve ever dined in.
I honestly didn’t expect much from the menu before I opened it. I was just impressed with how polite and friendly the staff was and at this point I was so hungry I really didn’t care. They were serving both breakfast and lunch from the menu that was pretty top heavy on Louisiana influence. Moments later, I had one of the most difficult yet wonderful decisions of my life to make. Two of the most alluring breakfast items I’ve ever seen on any menu were staring at me from the page. They were mocking me as if to say; “go ahead glutton boy, pick just one of us”.
Thankfully for my arteries, and well, just my life in general, I am one of those very rare people who married my soul mate. So as we’ve done many times before, we made eye contact across the table and had a conversation without words. I will now with hyperactive salivary glands describe for you the 2 dishes we chose to share. The plate of southern awesomeness that was placed before my dining partner for life was eggs Benedict on top of fried green tomatoes. Go ahead; I’ll give you a minute to absorb that before I tell you about mine. I actually made sure to grab a menu on the way out so that I could remember this dish for life and periodically read about it. Also, because I knew that I’d be writing about it and I wanted to make sure I got it right.
I could be slightly fuzzy on the details, but I will now describe my breakfast as I recall it. It was delivered to me on the back of a unicorn to the sound of harp and piccolo music. A chorus of cherubs seated on a rainbow heralded its’ arrival. And then, on the table before me was gulf shrimp in a spicy Creole cream sauce over yellow grits, and topped with green onions and gorgonzola cheese. No, there’s no shame in it; that’s how I reacted too. As I ordered this life changer, the waiter explained that they now make their own homemade thick cut bacon. He asked if I would like some crumbled on top of my already mind blowing culinary orgy. I looked at him and laughed and asked; “does anyone ever say no to that?” He laughed back and replied; “very seldom”. The dish also came with a choice of a side salad or a biscuit, which I just thought was funny. I’m pretty sure that was just masked sarcasm on the menu but it most definitely was not wasted on me.
I think I just wrote an entire column on ordering a single breakfast. Sorry about that. If I ever find out I have but one day to live, I will be returning to this place for my first meal of my last day.
Thanks for playing along.
Until next week, Syd Nichols