Monday, April 6, 2009
blogger eats words, best brunch ever
Presumably, you are all keenly aware of the scandalette that ensued last month as a result of my blog post about my experience at the Word of Mouth Neighborhood Bistro. Recap: I didn't like my sandwich, to the profound surprise of the staff, whom I used great creative license in describing, solely in the interest of striking comedic gold, which I believe I did. Unfortunately, any trace of humour in my post was lost on the staff, who were mysteriously tipped off about it, and subsequently went scouring Google, one by one, to witness the sacrilege for themselves. They left comments that ranged from indignant to nasty, a freedom to which they are fully entitled. Just as I can infuse my description with all sorts of embellishments to get you guys laughing, they have a right to defend themselves, their restaurant, and even hate me, which I'm fairly certain they all do. One thing they can't defend, however, is that sandwich, which I'm told has been removed from the menu. Damn, was it something I said?
Picture it, a beautiful Sunday afternoon in Salem, the sun making its much-anticipated debut of the season. I found myself with an afternoon to kill, so I texted my mom to see if she'd like to do something. Most of you know, my mom lost her baby brother last month, and the grief has consumed her, so I was really pleased when she asked if we could have brunch. Decisions are really not Mom's forte, but she didn't want an industrial-type restaurant, she wanted something with some charm, some warmth, some originality. Well, since Salem is notoriously lame on virtually every level, I had to spin my wheels for a while before the preposterous idea emerged in my mind. Mom's favourite breakfasty entree is biscuits and gravy, and despite having been this close to hiring a personal body guard when the backlash of the blog post started, I couldn't get Todd's unprecedented praise for Word of Mouth's biscuits and gravy out of my head. I mean, I thought this man was going to do an interpretive dance right before my eyes the day he came home with those biscuits on his breath. I was determined to take my mom there.
I know, what was I thinking right? Thankfully, I am the Queen of Grandiose Thinking, and I've got the goods to back it up. Ask anyone, impossible scenarios, particularly on a deadline, are my specialty. However, slinking surreptitiously into very small restaurants wherein the entire staff hates me and may very well pelt me with utensils, is fairly new territory so I had to be strategic. You see, I have learned that I am essentially the least forgettable person alive. I like to think it's my height, but we all know better. So I put on clothes that were the opposite of what I wore the first time I went, put my hair up, donned my shades, and tried to adopt somewhat of a demure mannerism without compromising my good posture. I pulled into Mom's driveway and sort of tried to nonchalantly tell her that A) I was taking her to the place that has the best biscuits and gravy in town (big smile), but B) There is a distinct possibility we will be manhandled/spat upon/shot (perplexed look, followed by a knowing nod). Mom is intimately acquainted with my unique talent for pissing people off.
Word of Mouth is a house, and it has a nice little foyer separated from the main restaurant by a wall. Mom and I instinctively squeezed onto the one seat that faced the street, giving us the best odds of being unseen by the staff. Right away a lovely, young, and most importantly, never-before-seen, waitress appeared, smiling, and not packing a firearm. She asked if it was our first time in, and we said yes. She confirmed that the biscuits and gravy did in fact live up to the hype, and insisted that we order a slice of the creme brulee French toast to try, which we did, and I ordered the veggie hash. Mom and I relaxed two millimeters, for we had seemingly secured a position under the radar, but there was no way I was taking off my sunglasses. We talked about Daniel's obituary, which Mom is writing, and she commented on how good it felt to be out in the sunshine. Two seconds later Jesse (sp?) appeared with our bounty. Right away I could tell that the veggie hash posed a serious risk of me having a non-simulated Meg Ryan moment in When Harry Met Sally. Mom took one bite of her biscuits and pretty much started speaking in tongues. I tried my veggies and knew I would be writing a retraction post. I then discreetly pulled a shovel from my purse to continue eating. We scarcely spoke, we just kept looking at each other, nodding furiously, making an occasional monosyllabic sound. The portions were hefty, the quality of the food exceptional, and the only bad thing I can say is that I could have eaten forty more plates of the veggies. Suddenly, my mom's eyes popped out of her head and rolled onto State Street. She began writhing, trying to speak, but only able to utter things that were vaguely familiar. I realized she had sampled our piece of creme brulee French toast and I honestly thought she might die and go to heaven, whence this culinary perfection had come. One thing she said was, "It's the gift that keeps on giving!" I was impressed, but so madly in love with my veggies that I was writing my vows in my head while I devoured the entire plate full in the sweet anonymity of our little nook. When I had finished licking my plate, I spied the French toast and dug in to see what the fuss was about. Oh.My.God. The fuss was about the best goddamn French toast in the world. Until Sunday I would have told you that the Sassy Onion has the best French toast in Salem, though a case could could have been made for Busick Court as well. They may as well roll up their carpets now, I'm just sayin.' This food will ruin every other restaurant in town for you.
The biscuits and gravy:
The veggie hash (I'm licking my screen):
The creme brulee French toast (don't just order one piece):
We chatted Jesse up a bit, the best we could while foaming at the mouth, and relished in our unspoken triumph. Fabulous food, no shooting, did I tell you or did I tell you? One interesting little aside to this raving review is the fact that three consecutive customers turned, as they were leaving, to ask what we had thought of our food. We gushed. Naturally. The last person to leave/interrogate was apparently the Bistro's first customer when they opened, and he was extremely curious about our experience. We told him, just like the others, that it was stupefyingly enjoyable, but it just seemed to matter more to him than the others who had asked. When we first walked in, before camouflaging ourselves in the foyer, I glanced in the kitchen and was relieved not to see any of the staff members from last month. To be clear, I have absolutely nothing against these waitresses, nor the owners, nor the cooks, but one can only assume from the vast quantity of time spent online in search of and reading my blog, that I am likely the most reviled customer of all time. I just wanted my mom to get her biscuits, so I was happy that our cover wasn't blown. Still, it was very odd to have these customers going out of their way to inquire after our brunch. Mom and I wondered if perhaps someone did recognize me, and sent out their spies. They needn't worry, I have only good things to say, and I just hope it wasn't a stroke of good luck working for us Sunday, and I am marginally concerned that my next attempt will be a bust. Perhaps I'll pick up a Groucho Marx mask just in case.
Bravo Word of Mouth. Truce?