Friday, April 23, 2010
Hold Me Closer, Tiny Diner
If you think too long or too hard about the term ‘greasy spoon’, there’s a good chance you will lose your appetite for breakfast, especially according to today’s no-trans-fat, organic-or-bust trends. Plus, when you brunch at your local diner, the grease left on the spoon after you’ve scraped every last morsel of sausage gravy off your plate is the least of your problems. But a good breakfast is a good breakfast, and venturing out in search of the perfect cheesy-scramble or buttered home fry is not a quest to be taken lightly. On the path to egg-lightenment, Martin’s Coffee Shop in Brookline Village is a great place to start.
Martin’s is a tight squeeze, especially for those of us customers who really look like we enjoy a good breakfast. The dining counter seats twelve, but only if you spoon-grease your elbows first. There are six additional tables along the back and side walls, but since the entire restaurant could fit inside an economy motel room, every seat is a tight squeeze. Martin’s makes up for the lack of personal eating space with a double-dose of comfortable service and comfort food.
The basic menu at Martin’s includes traditional breakfast combos, pancakes, French toast, egg sandwiches and a variety of benedicts, all sized for big-breakfast aficionados. The menu insert, however, is where the real fun begins, and where the Martin’s showcases an array of delicacies imported from their countries of origin. The tiny diner has somehow managed to keep costs down while relying only on small batches of imported ingredients to build their meals, and you’ll taste the results of this attention to detail right away. One side of the insert hosts fifteen omelet choices, each named for a country or region of the world with well known flavors. Whether you choose the Hawaiian with ham and pineapple or the Greek with olives and feta, you’re sure to find a taste combination that suits your mood. On the other side of the insert, you’ll find an extensive and unique list of original breakfast compositions in portions even larger than the rest of the enormous meals available. The Irish breakfast is a plate overflowing with eggs, black and white puddings, baked beans, sautéed mushrooms and tomatoes, and imported Irish bacon. The breakfast burrito actually consists of an entire omelet stuffed inside a double-sized tortilla with salsa, chili powder and potatoes. And while it’s not the most authentic Parisian meal, the Eiffel Tower is so much breakfast goodness that customers have been known to split it three ways. Don’t forget, every meal is served with home fries and toast, so you’ll have something familiar next to all your edible culture.
The cooking and serving staff are helpful and efficient, but as you watch the process set in motion by your order, you’ll notice that one shining star emerges. George, who works the grill, can build a benedict while flipping loaded pancakes and unloading the dishwasher, no small feat in the 36 inch aisle between counter and cook top. He is a silent wonder, the only one of the staff who doesn’t emit a constant stream of friendly chatter on the job, but his silent concentration serves a delicious purpose. You’ll be amazed at what George produces in his miniature kitchen.
With ingredients from around the world, eager employees and a kick-ass menu, Clydie, the owner of Martin’s, has somehow managed to keep his prices within a surprisingly low range. A benedict is 7-8 dollars, an omelet costs the same, the big breakfasts are 10 dollars or less, and you can grab a hot homemade breakfast sandwich for less than three dollars. So squeeze in to Martin’s Coffee Shop for breakfast this weekend, and pack a light wallet, because you’ll need the extra space once you start eating.
Martin’s Coffee Shop is located at 35 Harvard Street in Brookline. Visit www.martinscoffeeshop.com for more information and complete menu.