Sunday, March 1, 2009

Groton "Townies"

I love "fancy" food. I also love breakfast. Sometimes I like to combine the two, but sometimes I really just want a plain old cheap diner-style breakfast. As much as I love classy brunches and and a bloody Mary, there are other times when cheap coffee and value combos really hit the spot.

Noe and I normally hit the Broken Yolk when we're looking for eggs and toast or an omelet. We can easily walk to the Yolk, since it is less than a mile from our house, and the food is really good. But we're always up for trying something new, and today we decided to actually cross the bridge (gasp!) and meet some of our Groton friends at the Groton Townhouse.

Crossing the bridge!
I hardly ever go over to Groton.

Appearance and atmosphere-wise, the Townhouse is pretty much the opposite of the Broken Yolk. The Yolk is in the middle of our neighborhood, looks like an old house, and is extremely small with only several booths and a counter wrapped around a giant grill/kitchen area.

Groton Townhouse, by comparison, is located on a major road, is rather generic-looking newer-building, and I couldn't see the kitchen from any vantage point in the huge dining room. This is not to say there was anything unwelcoming about the Townhouse's appearance - there wasn't. It just has a kind of generic Denny's look, that's all. The upside to the generic diner decor is that they A) actually have booths bog enough to fit six people ( the size of our group) and B) those booths are comfortable (Sorry, Broken Yolk, but your narrow, straight-back booths are NOT one of your high points).

We settled into our big round booth (if you go as early as we did - 9:30 - it seems you can get a pretty good table, even with a large group...probably because the Sunday church crowd hasn't drifted in). We were immediately given waters and a waitress came right over to get a drink order, which already meant the service factor surpassed several "nicer" restaurants I've been to in the area.

The coffee was drinkable - not "cooked down" or bitter-tasting - and the large juices and milk ordered by our party came in actual large glasses, a pleasant surprise (we all know the normal "large" for a glass of juice is actual pretty small in most restaurants).

The menu looked was pretty extensive, with several pages of breakfast options. We all ordered standard diner staples - combos of eggs, pancakes, and meat for three of our party; a Belgian-style waffle for one; eggs, toast, meat, and home fries for another; and for me, eggs Benedict (I couldn't resist - I had to compare).

Our waitress - who was in a very good mood despite the fact she probably got to work around 7:00 AM - kept our coffee warm while we waited for our food. It wasn't a very long wait at all. A food runner brought our plates to us, another sign that Groton Townhouse knows what kind of crowd to expect for Sunday morning breakfast and staffs appropriately.

Everyone who had ordered eggs received them exactly the way they had ordered them (scrambled, over hard, over medium, etc). A bite of Noe's pancakes proved them to be nice and fluffy. I did not try Brandon's waffle (I don't know him THAT well!) but it looked thick, with deep wells to soak up the syrup. When I asked him how it tasted, he said "fantastic" so I assume it was slightly crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside, like all good Belgian waffles.

My eggs Benedict passed inspection as well - perfectly cooked eggs and just the right amount of Hollandaise sauce. The only thing I would have done differently is toast or grill the English muffin just a bit more - I like them a little crispier to hold up to the egg yolk and sauce. However, this is a minor criticism.

The home fries were delicious - they had a sprinkling of scallions on the top and I definitely picked up a slight onion-y flavor and some light seasonings. The potatoes themselves were the perfect consistency for mashing with a fork - firm enough to hold shape, but not mushy to the point of dissolving in your mouth. In short, delicious. I wish I had been hungry enough after the eggs Benedict to eat more of them.

Perhaps the best part of the meal was the bill. For six of us, all with full meals and beverages, we came in around $55 - less than $10 per person. That's definitely Denny's-type prices with better service and quality.

I do feel compelled to give our server one more compliment - even after she brought the check and we paid it, she kept coming around with the coffee pot and clearing our dirty dishes. We were lingerers this morning - people who sit at a table chatting long after they finish eating - and our server never once gave us the impression that she'd like us to leave and free up the table. In fact, it was the opposite. We may have left earlier if she hadn't kept coming over with fresh coffee.

Gourmet it isn't, but if you are looking for an inexpensive place to have a good-quality diner-style breakfast with a group of friends, Groton Townhouse is a good bet. I'm sure we'll be back.

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