22 Mar, 2011
by Julie Ferris
I’m sure it’s clear to you by now, I love breakfast at the Pfister. I love breakfast food in general, of course, and can never make up my mind—breakfast anywhere for me includes multitudes of plate envy, but (as you also know) add coffee and I’m usually satiated.
I’m pretty sure my love of breakfast comes from some working class, Irish Catholic roots and a culinary (to a degree) dad. We had lots of “breakfasts for dinner” type meals during lent because they were filling sans meat (ah, the superb quality of pancakes!). Plus, breakfast food was always dad’s fallback when we were left in his care and hungry. Best French toast in the world came out of a cast iron skillet, flipped by one C.A. Ferris.
But it goes beyond food. When I was a little girl and out with my dad to go fishing, he indoctrinated me the entire routine—including the 5:00 a.m. gatherings at the local diner. Caps, camo and well-worn hands bullying forkfulls of crispy hashbrowns into moustached mouths surrounded me and waitresses who were used to the honey-baby-sugar pie calls of their regulars grinned at my ridiculously curly hair. Suffice it to say, breakfast at the Pfister doesn’t quite look like that, especially while it’s temporarily located in the Rouge Room.
But this morning, as I share the space with a businessman we’ll call Joe talk with his partner, I realized, it may not be all that different. Sure, the dress code ups the ante a bit (no one wore a cap), but the buzz and vibration of the day’s work about to begin was the same. The graceful familiarity of coffee pots swirling around the room and platefuls of crispy hashbrowns seated before regular patrons all feels very familiar.
Joe, a handsome gentleman, seems to be of an age of retirement, yet his crisp grey suit jacket tells a different story. He is working this morning, laughs so hard that his shoulders rattle upwards with every chuckle. His eyes are happy slits directed closed when the corners of his mouth turn up. He’s talking business, profits and partners, but it’s early, he’s still in good spirits.
Instead of a creaky old door and footfalls on the nearly rotted linoleum of my small town diner, eaters here descend into the Rouge like guests on a cruise ship. This breakfast is later too—these aren’t the 5:00 a.m. haymakers (then again, the sun isn’t shining yet as today spring has recoiled) of my small town. These are travelers. Work has changed. Hay doesn’t get made—trades and deals do. Market reports and scouting reports and quality reports are generated and housed in briefcases attached to attaches and carry-ons.
It doesn’t ruin my love for breakfast; the scene and Joe only remind me that it’s more universal than you think. Your first interactions of the morning set the tone for your day and the Flo of my hometown diner beckoned good fishing just as the service staff in the Rouge prep us for contemporary days in an urban place.
I’m eager for more breakfasts though, as the cafe renovations are slated to be finished this upcoming week. In fact, there’s a VIP event on Sunday, March 27 for cafe regulars and others to come and take a sneak peak at the new space before it officially opens on March 28. If you’re a regular, you’d better ask Lorena or any one of your favorite morning staffers to get you in past the velvet rope on Sunday.
As I finish my last swig of coffee, I remember it may be my last relocated cup of percolate in the Rouge and my next will be a Starbucks premium roast in the newly improved cafe, so I snap a quick picture. When the flash goes off, I hear Joe say to his tablemate, who is curious about my photographic endeavor, shrugging those gregarious shoulders of his, “Huh. Facebook.”