the breakfast dictator [215]

Merry Ann’s Diner | Champaign, IL

Posted in Diner Review, Travel by thebreakfastdictator on October 23, 2009
Victor Munoz | Merry Anns Diner

Victor Munoz | Merry Ann's Diner

Good-byes are sad, you know. And it was a day for good-byes. Nothing here can last and it was time to depart Illinois, the harvest and my dear friends. I thought for sure that I’d get a few more farmers on the way out, especially in Farmer City, but things didn’t play out as expected and I was eager to make it to breakfast. I’d heard about Merry Ann’s from several different people in Bloomington and the anticipation was slowly overwhelming me.

It was a long, cold, drizzled-grey drive across the corn belt and I’d stuffed myself with coffee but breakfast was certainly welcoming. The traffic on the main street of Champaign slightly got on my nerves as the thought of sitting in a warm and welcoming diner while drinking cup after cup of bottom-less coffee flooded my brain. Adding to the irritation was that parking in this area was a premium and I had to round the block a few times (and curse out the out of towner who took up two spaces in the parking lot) til I finally parked in the Wal-Greens across the street, strapped on my camera and found my diner respite.

Walking into this blue and orange clad diner was a step back in time (as many of your typical Americana-type diners are). And it was surprisingly crowded. I snagged the last booth in the far right corner and waited eagerly for the aforementioned coffee. My server (in my exhaustion, I didn’t even catch her name) quickly rattled off that morning’s specials, which I gladly accepted — and ordered the ham+cheese (with a side of pancakes!) omelet for a scant $3.99. She was super-friendly (something that being from the east coast will keep one from being accustomed to) and kept my coffee-cup from ever emptying. Before taking off for the long drive home, I asked her to make her photograph, but she politely and repeatedly declined. She suggested that I photograph Victor, the cook, instead. I made a few frames of him, crossed Neil Street and headed off into the never-ending grey midwestern morning.

Morning Glory | Philadelphia, PA

Posted in Diner Review by thebreakfastdictator on September 30, 2009
Morning Glory | 10th and Fitzwater

Morning Glory | 10th and Fitzwater

The number of times we drove past this dandy little joint in south Philly without ever even noticing it is certainly innumerable. Well, truth be told, I did notice it every time we made the trek from West Philly to South Philly for cheesesteaks at Pat’s – the dangling flowers on the outside always lead me to believe that it was a flower shop. The association was strange, I know, and fortunately, 9 years later, I stumbled over this glorious little diner at the corner of 10th and Fitz.

Every diner seems to have its own little quirks that make it charming (or an event to be forgotten) and Morning Glory is no exception. Most noticeable are the stainless-steel coffee cups (that I’ve heard were relics of a by-gone era that the diner scarfed up upon discovering them). And if, by any chance, that story is true, it adds just a bit more to this diner’s lure. Additionally, the ketchup is home-made and served in giant green glass bottles and a variety of condiments abound — my favorite, perhaps, was the Scorned Woman Hot Sauce.

easy on the eyes; pleasure on the palette

easy on the eyes; pleasure on the palette

I can be sold on anything, as long as it’s easy on my eyes and the very first time I sauntered into Morning Glory on an overcast, late-June day, I knew what I wanted before I was even seated. The grand, green Breakfast Burrito yelped at me from the plate it rested on at the bar as I walked by to my seat in the comfy blue (and rather inviting) dining room. Presentation is key and Morning Glory, perhaps, excels like no other (diner). It’s the little things that count and the small slices of fresh-cut melon (honey dew or cantaloupe) are laid neatly on the side of one’s plate. And let me take one second to gush about the fruit; having grown up in farm country (Lancaster, PA) I am somewhat of a produce snob and the honey dew I had that morning rivaled anything I’d ever find at Central Market in downtown Lancaster, and that, my friends, is an awfully difficult task to accomplish.

Typically, I prefer to avoid long lines, so i enter early (7 on weekdays or 8 on the weekends) and in my last visit, the cooks were singing and carousing with the servers and with the regulars (reading their Inquirers or City Papers at the bar). One of the regulars rolled up in a tan Chevy pickup, straight out of the sixties and, for a moment, I lost myself inside this little diner-world, soaking in the timeless ambiance of excellent food and damn-near perfect atmosphere.

Morning Glory ain’t no flower shop, as I so wrongly assumed my sophomore year of college, and that’s a glorious thing. You’d be best to visit (and make yourself a regular relatively soon).

The Runcible Spoon | Bloomington, Indiana

Posted in Diner Review, Travel by thebreakfastdictator on September 16, 2009

This Bloomington breakfast joint was recently listed as one of Esquire Mag’s 59 Best Breakfasts in America. And while I spent countless weekends in Bloomington between 2004 and 2007, it somehow escaped my knowledge; a grand faux paux, indeed. Regardless, there is talk of making the trek to the un-official Hoosier capital in October just to swing by this grand little place that was literally a block or two where I spent so many fall weekends for three straight years. (One should know that there is a ton to do in Bloomington, especially if you’re from out of town, so don’t fault myself [or anyone else for that matter] for missing a hot spot such as this.

Hopefully, we’ll bring you a review (complete with photos) rather soon.

:: The Dictator ::