You can only imagine how often I get asked for recommendations on places to eat. Breakfast. Lunch and dinner. Fans of this column and my TV show are typically the most likely to approach on the street and ask. Friends do it as well. That always amuses me. Friends who always eat out, have lived here longer than I have and know their way around will always ask “I’ve got family coming to town, they’re bringing kids, where should I take them?” I’ll usually start with “Vinnie’s” and you just see the light bulb go on above their heads. “Yeah! Perfect.” I just gotta laugh and wonder how much thought they really gave the situation before they just decided to ask. Always easier to ask someone else, I guess.
Believe it or not, the meal I get asked about most, especially on a holiday weekend, is breakfast. Usually holiday weekends mean people are spending a good bit of their time downtown. They are either attending an event, or meeting up with family who is staying at a hotel downtown. Memorial Day weekend, not only did I get asked a handful of times about breakfast, but I had family in town myself, so there were questions, requests and discussions to be had about where to Eat It and Like It over the weekend.
If you know the breakfast landscape downtown, then you know you can typically expect a wait on the weekends. Good luck at B. Matthew’s without a reservation. J. Christopher’s usually has a mob scene outside, as does Clary’s. SOHO South has a weekend brunch and Rocks on the River does a nice job with breakfast and brunch as well. The Funky Brunch Café is the new kid on the block, but I admittedly haven’t been there yet because they have been in a “soft open” phase since they opened in March with a limited weekend menu. I’ve heard many good things, but I’ll wait until they are on full blast, which I’m told is soon. As a result, the place I ended up taking my family for breakfast isn’t a place that usually registers with locals. Maybe lunch during the week, but a weekend breakfast? No. The secret with a line out the door? Goose Feathers Bakery and Café on Barnard Street.
Goose Feathers isn’t a traditional sit down waiter/waitress type of restaurant. Owner Michael Meeks calls it “Fast Casual.” That it most certainly is. As I mentioned, when we arrived, the line was out the door. But it was refreshing to see a manager constantly outside checking on the crowd, paying a little closer attention to older folk because they were standing in the sun. They were passing out menus on the street to those in line and counting the number of people in parties to make sure seating was set aside for those about to walk in the door. I must say, it was an impressive display of customer service for a “fast casual” eatery. Not since The Deen Family put ice water with mint out on the sidewalk for their guests waiting outside have I seen a restaurant care that much about what is going on that sidewalk.
By all accounts, the food was good as well. There were six of us, so there was some significant variety going on. From chocolate waffles to eggs benedicts to my chicken mushroom melt with bacon on a croissant. Everyone was happy. I dropped my family off for a trolley tour at the visitors center and went home. Wouldn’t you know it? Not five hours later I get an email from a friend who grew up here but lives in Washington D.C. now. She was visiting for Memorial Day and needed some advice on breakfast. I told her I had been to Goose Feathers that morning and loved the fact that, on a holiday weekend, we were out the door in about forty-five minutes. Sometimes a wait for a table can be that long at the more popular spots in town. Other times, I’ll suggest something to someone and they’ll go somewhere else. This time they took my advice and went to Goose Feathers that next morning for Brunch. The email I got Sunday afternoon was simple.
“Thanks for the recommendation! We Ate It and Liked It.”
See you on TV.