Breakfast is undoubtedly my most favorite meal of the day. However, it doesn’t seem like it’s been a staple of my lifestyle for the past years. In high school I used to careen out the door and into the car clutching a single slice of Orowheat bread and a travel mug of green tea. I dubbed it the hermit’s breakfast. Our family likes to keep the morning repast pretty simple anyway–yogurt, cereal, bagels–continental breakfast style. So eating things like French toast, waffles, and bacon are true luxuries.
So before college, my dad and I liked to go on father-daughter breakfast dates occasionally on the weekends. We were both willing to forgo sleeping in for biscuits and omelettes, and nothing’s better than holding a steaming mug of hot coffee on a rainy Portland morning. Typically we would go to relatively popular places likes Shari’s and IHOP, but when I went home for winter break we treated ourselves to a special outing at Stepping Stone Cafe on Christmas Eve morning.
Stepping Stone Cafe is a famous breakfast destination that cultivates the appeal of late night eating, serving breakfast and lunch all day and keeping their doors open until 3 am on Fridays and Saturdays. Parking was a little tricky to find, but we managed to grab a table before an onslaught of couples descended on the little restaurant. Stepping Stone had a long counter with plushy red swivel chairs (my favorite kind), exuding a bit of a diner vibe. And then there were small tables with cute black and white gingham tablecloths lining the windows and walls. I saw big burly men in heavy flannel shirts, hunched over their coffee, ladies with their husbands, and a mother and her young child, who was absolutely adorable tackling her plate of mancakes (giant GIANT pancakes, yo.) And there was this one waiter who seriously resembled a hipster version of Beauty and the Beast’s ever-charming Gaston–seemed like he swapped his usual red and yellow outfit for rolled up jeans and a black v-neck.
But what really made me crack up was the glass display of classic Stepping Stone Cafe merchandise. It sported bold red underwear stamped with the restaurant’s logo on its rear. This place had SASS. But I suppose there’s nothing wrong with having awesome underwear. Selling the usual T-shirt seemed too mainstream I guess.
Anyway, my dad is very partial to eggs. Omelettes, eggs benedict, you name it. I’m pretty sure he would have saved poor Humpty Dumpty before before his untimely fall. So of course he ordered Stepping Stone’s omelette (D’s Eggs). I decided to order “The Other Dilemma”, which was a hash with spinach, jack cheese, and bacon. (“The Dilemma” hash didn’t include bacon.) I had expected the usual shredded potatoes, fried to a rich golden brown, but Stepping Stone veered away from the usual style and cut the potatoes like little round slices. The potatoes layered each other and were pleasantly well-cooked. Spinach and bacon generously covered all the potatoes and were finished off with a beautiful jack cheese melt. I loved it. It was hearty and flavorful, but not bathed in oil like some other restaurants. Popeye would absolutely go nuts for this.
Ah, I’m reminiscing about good ol’ Portland fare. I’m back to servery food and surviving on Nature Valley bars. But it was truly a blessing to be back in P-Town. I appreciate it more and more.