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Sunday, July 10, 2005

The Search for Breakfast

This is not among my most sparkling literary achievements, but it portrays the neighborhood’s social location fairly well, though without any seriously sociological or anthropological commentary (no theological insights, either—after all, the weekly publication was not remotely church-related). With more protective changes of faces and places, in this review I’m still hiding the burden of guilt!
Pete’s Eats and Sam’s II
The Search for Breakfast


What makes a restaurant a good place to have breakfast on the way to work? We recently looked for the answer in two local eating places.

You might wonder how people who used to rely on the Lockout Diner for breakfast on the way to work have been managing to last on the job until lunch. Well, one possibility is that by now they have found Pete’s Eats at 468 Southfield Avenue, down the street from where the landmark diner used to be.

Pete’s opens at 5:30 a.m. weekdays and Saturdays, thus making it a good place for those who begin their day early. The service is friendly, efficient, and most important, fast. The food is cleanly-prepared, not greasy, and the portions more than adequate. A cup of fresh drip coffee is 95¢ ordered separately, with a free refill if you have breakfast; otherwise a second cup is 80¢. The menu lists the expected standard breakfast items at reasonable prices, with six combinations. They range from the Number 6: $1.99 for one egg, homefries, toast and coffee, to the No. 1, called “Super Beat the House”: $5.49 for three eggs, choice of bacon, sausage or ham; three pancakes, toast, homefries, juice, coffee.

For our breakfasts at Pete’s we chose the No. 3: two eggs, homefries, toast and coffee, with three sausages. This combination was $3.79, and grapefruit juice added an additional 85¢. We also had a single order of three pieces of French toast ($2.75), coffee, and a medium orange juice (85¢). The three sausages were well-browned and drained, and the eggs had the right degree of doneness. The homefries also were crisp, although for our taste they could have been browner. Also well-cooked and greaseless was the French toast, which was prepared with an adequate amount of egg to give it the appropriate golden color. Our only quibble would be that it might have been browned a bit more on the outside.

The service was fast and pleasant. The server brought our coffee while we decided on what else to order and it was only a few minutes from order to service. This was a little after 8:30, so the place wasn’t crowded, and we would expect it to take a little longer during peak hours, but the efficiency we found leads us to expect fast service at all times, an important factor when having breakfast on the way to work. All things considered, Pete’s Eats is a good addition to the Southfield/Patton Square area.

In the Naugatuck area, we tried another breakfast place that opens at 6 a.m., early enough for most folks on their way to work. Sam’s II, within sniffing distance of Willow Bay, offers a quiet atmosphere, good food and competitive prices. Its location in the Pilgrim Mall complex on Mohegan Boulevard means more than ample parking at breakfast time.

The bill of fare at Sam’s also includes classic American breakfast items; Ă  la carte and complete meals are available. They offered us strong, flavorful coffee as soon as we arrived and then chose the same breakfasts as we had had at Pete’s, but at Sam’s the coffee and bacon were included on a combination with the French toast. The homefries were cooked with onion and diced rather than sliced. Otherwise, the food was comparable to Pete’s, as was the service.

In general, the offerings were similar to those at Pete’s, although the combinations varied, and the prices, although there were some differences, were close.

The greatest difference is in the atmosphere of the two eating places. Pete’s is pocket-sized and well-lit; the three tables and seven counter stools seat a total of nineteen people. Sam’s is fairly sizeable and not brightly illuminated. The booths provide sufficient privacy to allow for comfortable chatting with friends or spreading out the newspaper while eating breakfast. Since the place is large, one would not feel compelled to move on quickly after eating.

To partially answer the question we asked in beginning this review, most would agree that convenience, fast service, good food at reasonable prices and cleanliness are most important. We found all of these at both Pete’s Eats and Sam’s II and hope you will too!

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