The restaurant I’d love to open

March 13, 2016

Children B and A, AGC 1 and 3. Ain't they cute?

Children B and A, AGC 1 and 3. Ain’t they cute?

While the above photo is worthwhile because it contains two-thirds of the prettiest, smartest, most adorable people in the world (Child C and her son weren’t with us, more’s the pity), it is also worthwhile because it’s a restaurant idea I find absolutely fascinating and don’t see why they aren’t cropping up everywhere.

This is Pfunky Griddle, in the very hipster enclave of Berry Hill in Nashville. A quick examination of the table, if you can tear your eyes away from my family, reveals said griddle in the center. Think the local hibachi place, but smaller grill-to-table ratio.

This is where you griddle your pancakes. Or your omelet. Or your hash browns or potato cakes. And it is the restaurant I would open if I were ever going to open one.

It is also the sole exception I have made to my general dislike of restaurants where I have to cook my own food. I like cooking one pancake, eating it, then cooking another one and eating THAT. Just works well.

I am frequently asked two questions: “Why don’t you write a cookbook?” and “Why don’t you open a restaurant?” The answers, respectively, are: “I will, one of these days, when I have time,” and “Because I don’t want to work that damn hard.”

But Pfunky Griddle would be the kind of restaurant I’d open. Its premise is simple: they bring you pitchers of pancake batter (regular, multigrain or gluten-free), spatulas and cooking spray, along with small bowls of add-ins, and you take off. Ditto your eggs and fillings for your omelet; your smushed potatoes or grated potatoes for your potato cakes or hash browns. They cook your bacon, biscuits, toast, oatmeal and such for you. I haven’t been there for lunch, but I presume you can griddle your own panini, or some such.

We love this place. It does not hurt that they make wonderful coffee. And can I just tell you, the addition of Reese’s Pieces and banana slices to a multigrain pancake is just magnificent?

The AGCs and Child B opted for M&Ms in theirs. Child A went with walnuts and berries. I would have had strawberries and pecans, but strawberries weren’t in season yet.

I have had potato cakes before and got a bowl of smushed up potato (with, I think, a tad of milk and egg in it, and maybe a little flour to glue it together). Add-ins there were things like cheese, green onion, regular onions, mushrooms and diced peppers. I went with cheese and green onion.

Never tried an omelet. Can’t make one at home, have no reason to think I could make one anywhere else.

Their “Joey” breakfast includes pancakes, two add-ins, a choice of bacon, ham or sausage (they cook those), a choice of biscuit or toast, and a choice of a half-order of potatoes or grits or an egg, and it’s $10. I guess that’s on weekday mornings; we’ve always been on a weekend (when the wait is at least 30 minutes), and as we got there Thursday night, and had soccer for AGC 3 on Saturday morning before we left, Friday seemed to be the optimal choice. First time I’d seen the Joey option. Not sure if they have an affection for baby kangaroos, or if the owner or maybe the cook is named Joey.

My coffee of choice there is always cafe au lait, which comes in the big two-hander mug that looks for all the world like a soup bowl with a handle on it. They also have several “fancy” coffee drinks like a Milky Way and a Snickers and things of that nature, as well as your standard espressos, lattes and cappucinos. Oh, and plain coffee. Good coffee.

Anyway, really good pancakes, and a really cool idea for a restaurant. I’d love to see them franchise it, or see someone pick up on the idea, for other locations.

The next day, after the soccer game (three-year-olds playing soccer is just Cute, I tell you), Child A and I stopped off at Puffy Muffin for breakfast on the way out of town. A quite trendy Nashville area chain that’s partly bakery, partly restaurant, they have all the standard breakfast offerings as well as quiches (which are quite good, though not what I went for Saturday) and killer pastries. I opted for the “country breakfast,” which was eggs (over easy) with cheese grits, bacon and toast. No complaints. It fueled me up well for the trip home.

In between, we had a grand birthday adventure with AGC1, who has been clamoring for an American Girl doll. We made a pilgrimage to the American Girl store, which has, in addition to VERY pricy dolls and accoutrements therefor, a doll hair salon, and a bistro where one can eat lunch with one’s doll.

Now tell me. Is this sheer joy, or what?

Now tell me. Is this sheer joy, or what?

So we got a doll, and some accessories for said doll, and a dress for AGC1 to match said doll’s dress (I’m telling you, this place is a Racket, but it’s a quite fun racket), and off we went to take the new family member to lunch. (Her name, btw, is Elizabeth.)

Surprisingly, lunch was pretty good. I had an Asian chicken salad, which consisted of mixed greens topped with a grilled chicken breast cut into strips, a tangle of strips of fried egg roll wrappers, some bell peppers I ignored, and cucumbers.  The dressing was a sweet sesame dressing, and quite good, and the chicken breast, surprisingly, was grilled to barely done, and was still quite juicy. Good salad, and I ate it all except the peppers, which they had thoughtfully left in a single pile. Other offerings included pizza, noodles with marinara sauce (farfalle instead of spaghetti, oddly), mac and cheese, burgers, and the standard appetizers.  The rest of the crew allowed their lunch was good, too.

In any event, there’s a gracious plenty in Nashville to do on a weekend trip, and we only touched a little of it, but we had fun. If you ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em get the hankering to open a restaurant, take a trip up there and go to Pfunky Griddle, and come back and put one in close to me. You can always make it do double duty as a hibachi, I guess.

 

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