Friday, January 15, 2010

Jay’s Café: A Tasty Way to Start the Day

I’m not one to eagerly sit down to breakfast. Yeah, I know what you’re going to say: “But it’s the most important meal of the day!” Hey, you’re right. I know that attempting to traverse the typical work day without partaking of the morning meal is tantamount to consuming a sleeping pill. I know that, at least for me, the day’s tasks are much easier to complete after having eaten something for breakfast, and indeed the absence of hunger pangs makes the morning just fly by. Why, then, do I disdain this meal as I do?

The truth is, I don’t dislike breakfast, not exactly. In addition to understanding its importance, I happen to genuinely enjoy a multitude of breakfast foods: Toast with butter (or better yet, a toasted bagel with cream cheese), hash browns, bacon, ham, sausage (preferably all three), waffles dripping with syrup and powdered sugar, cereal with milk, and fresh-squeezed orange juice.

What’s missing? That’s right, eggs. Though I pride myself on my diverse palate and my willingness to try just about anything, the very thought of consuming an egg turns my stomach whether fried, hard-boiled, scrambled, or in an omelet; and my inability to order a satisfying eggless breakfast at a restaurant has made going out to breakfast about as fun as shoveling the walkway while it’s still snowing out, and twice as frustrating.

Typically, when I go out for breakfast, I find myself ordering lunch. Though I may be in the mood for hash browns, bacon and toast, it’s easier to get a sandwich than to ask every member of my party if they’d like my eggs, negotiate some sort of substitution for my them without being cheated by the restaurant, or assemble my ideal meal from relatively-pricey side dishes. And though I do like pancakes, whenever I’m about halfway through with my short stack I find that I enjoy them less than I thought I did.

In December Katie and I took a trip to Washington. We managed to catch an early morning flight, arriving around nine o’clock. We rented a car and set off on a forty-minute drive to the home of some friends we were staying with. While driving on State Route 522 we decided to stop for breakfast. After a couple miles with no suitable dining options we happened upon a modest white edifice; a yellow and white sign welcomed us to Jays’ Café, and we eagerly turned into the parking lot.


Once inside, we were greeted immediately by a friendly hostess who led us to a spacious booth. Although it was a Saturday morning the restaurant wasn’t crowded. However, the restaurant was sufficiently occupied to assure us that we hadn’t made a bad choice.

The menu was encouraging; in addition to the standard assortment of breakfast dishes, Jay’s offered a multitude of sandwiches, burgers and entrees typical of a roadside diner. I briefly considered a chicken sandwich, but instinct was calling me toward the breakfast menu. I ultimately settled on a side order of ham and a side order of hash browns. Half a slice of wheat toast taken from Katie’s plate (with her permission, naturally) completed this small but satisfying meal.


(Apologies for the out-of-focus shot above; I’d left my camera in the car and had to use my cell phone.)

In addition to a great meal, we were pleased with Jay’s prices. I suspect that Jay’s Café isn’t significantly less expensive than a comparable eatery in Washington State, but when you’re used to California prices, you notice when you get a particularly good deal when dining out. All told, our bill came to less than fifteen dollars including orange juice. With a generous tip to reflect superior service, we still paid less than we would have for a similar breakfast (before the tip) back home.

Should you ever find yourself on the northern shore of Lake Washington seeking decent food and a homey atmosphere, you could do worse than to stop at Jay’s Café, located at 7520 NE Bothell Way, Kenmore, WA 98028.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Last Few Months in Food, part 6

This final entry in the series should finish off the unbelievably huge surplus of food photos from the past few months.

Sausage patty and hash browns from Denny's. No, I am not proud of the fact that I deigned to eat at Denny's. I was out of town, it was one of but a few dining options, and while I would have gladly eaten anywhere else, I was outvoted.

Pancakes, also from Denny's. The less said about this photo and the previous one, the better.

Better pancakes, made by Katie.

Burger with mushrooms and Swiss cheese, served with fries. That's a bottle of Lindeman's Cassis behind it.

Cochinita pibil, with rice.

French fries and sweet potato fries from The Counter.

Carne asada, chicken and carnitas tacos from Jalisco Grill in Roseville.

Sandwich: Pastrami, ham, turkey, chicken and Swiss cheese on a French dip roll, with chips and a gherkin.

An awesome spectacle of a cake, made by my mother-in-law for my niece's fourth birthday. Though I don't have the recipe handy, it was featured in Cook's Country magazine, in the December 2009 issue I believe.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Last Few Months in Food, part 5

Slice of Big Sur pizza from Pizza My Heart.

Barbecued steaks.

Chocolate It's-It.

Boneless buffalo wings from Wing Stop. Wing Stop is quickly becoming one of Katie's and my favorite places to eat. The simplicity of their menu - chicken wings, chicken strips, fries and little else - plus the overall quality of their food, and the fact that most if not all of their locations are open late ensure that we pay them a visit regularly.

A side of fries, also from Wing Stop.

Sandwich: Ham, turkey, roast beef and Swiss cheese, with potato chips.

Sandwich: Ham, turkey, roast beef, pastrami and Tillamook cheddar, with fries.

Tiramisu cake, from Katie's birthday.

Watermelon, green apple and strawberry shave ice. We bought this exquisite mound of ice and sugary syrup from a vendor at a community festival. The vendor's stand included a machine with twenty or thirty dispensers, each dispensing a different flavored syrup. Were I a millionaire, one of my first purchases would likely be just such a machine.

The following three pictures were taken at Buffalo Bill's Brewery, Pub and Restaurant in Hayward, California. Like Wing Stop, Buffalo Bill's has become one of my favorite places to eat (and drink) over the last several months, thanks to a variety of beers both on tap and in bottles, and a menu full of delicious food. Great place! Perhaps a review is in order.

Buffalo Bill's Hayward Hefe.

Buffalo Bill's Pumpkin Ale, the perfect brew for a chilly autumn evening.

Buffalo Bill's hot pastrami sandwich, served with blue corn chips.

More to come!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Last Few Months in Food, part 4

Another batch, these mainly from early autumn:

An order of boneless buffalo wings from Armadillo Willy's in San Mateo.

A random sandwich: roast beef, ham, turkey and cheese on toast, served with chips.

Raviolis with homemade sauce, made by my father-in-law for Katie's birthday.

Homemade meatballs, made by my sister-in-law, also for Katie's birthday.

A simple yet delicious salad, also enjoyed as part of my wife's birthday dinner.

Pork chops and macaroni and cheese.

An unidentified sandwich from Mel's Drive-In. Though the name is long forgotten, and a cursory check of Mel's website indicates that such an item may no longer be on the menu, it had roast beef and cheddar cheese, and was quite good.

Pot roast with carrots and potatoes.

My plate.
The Calamari Costa Brava, served with black beans and jalapeno pasta, from Cabo's Mexican Restaurant in Rocklin.

Lots of canteloupe.

Carrot cake, and some sort of strawberry mousse-type dessert, at the Feast Buffet at Thunder Valley Casino in Lincoln, California.

More to come!