Monday, April 27, 2009

Best South City Breakfast Challenge Contender

Well, I don't know if I'm the only one having awesome food every time I go but Soulard Coffee Garden is slingin' the best breakfast I've ever had. Let me emphasize that. Not just the best breakfast in South St Louis, but the best breakfast I've ever had. Did you notice my italics? Yeah, I decided not to go with bold. Anyway, the reason why this seems strange is that the reviews on Yelp and Yahoo! are lukewarm at best.
Actually, I shouldn't write "lukewarm" because they really are all over the place. Some very good, some abysmal... This is what I know: I've never had such a tasty omelette, and as you know, an omelette is what I often base my opinion of a breakfast place on. I know what you're thinking. I just got lucky. Nope, I've been to the Soulard Coffee Garden dozens of times now. It's right around the corner from my apartment and that's something that history tells us "you can't beat with a stick".
Also, the coffee is great! Not the regular coffee though. Don't get that. Get the Grog. It's butterscotchish/caramely without being very sweet. It's a dark roast too so it still hits that spot you always talk about.
As you'll note in the other reviews, the service has left something to be desired for many. I can't fault the reviewers for that. You never know what you're going to get to be honest. I've been there when it is absolutely packed on a Saturday morning and the service has been superb and the food piping hot. Then I went on a slow Monday morning and the food took 20 minutes and was cold on arrival. I've also sat at a table on a slow late morning and wasn't approached for 15 minutes. And I think I know why. First of all, the place has multiple dining areas and no computerized ordering system. They have a register upstairs, for instance, but they don't order through it. (At least I don't think. If they do, I've somehow totally missed it) This leads to slower service as does the fact that they have to run up and down stairs to get food with no easy "staff only" way to get around. I suspect the food comes out cold during slower times due to a smaller kitchen staff and the fact that the food is freshly prepared. I used to work in restaurants and you have to be very good to get timing down perfectly. On a slower day it would be harder to do multiple orders at once. The same goes for servers. The place has too many areas to sit, and on a slower day with too many people spread out, you waste a lot of time going back and forth. I call this "Slow Day Syndrome". It's a little like Swine Flu but garners you worse Yelp reviews.
I don't want to sound like I'm defending the service. I'm not. There are many ways to fix these problems including closing sections and updating the ordering system. But, there is one thing many of the reviews that I don't really get. The flippant or seemingly uncaring worker bit. I have never experienced anything but the friendliest of service there. I don't want to venture any guesses as to what those reviewers actually saw, but I have a feeling they get that idea at any Starbucks they go to as well. I don't know. I'm no dismissive-server-experience-person mind reader no matter what my Mom claims. She would also adamantly oppose anyone who thinks that last sentence didn't make sense. So watch it!
And there's my take on Soulard Coffee Garden. The other things I've had there that are excellent is the Eggs Benedict and the Cornmeal Blueberry Pancakes. Those right there are some of the best pancakes I've ever had the pleasure of hating myself for eating. And I don't even like pancakes. Wait, I just totally misused bold there. Damn you bold!!!!

1 comment:

Meg said...

Alrighty, breakfast is by far my favorite meal of the day. I will also agree that I have never had anything but wonderful yummies from Soulard Coffee Garden...well not a huge fan of tehir potatoes, but whatev. Other places you NEED to try:
~First Watch (Clayton and Kirkwood)
~Murdoch Perk (Right by breakfast but serves Kaldi's coffee!!!
~Rooster (I think that is the name...its a crepe place I have been dying to go to....TAKE ME!)