It’s game eight of the Breakfast Brackets, everybody! Today, Beale Street soul kitchen and fried-food emporium takes on suburban family cafe West St. Diner. Who will move on to round two?
West St. Diner
2076 West St
Order: Coffee, orange juice, scrambled eggs, bacon, a pancake, grits, and a biscuit.
Coffee: West St. Diner’s coffee was utilitarian, but better than average. It wasn’t oily or too strong. (6.5 points)
Biscuit: The biscuits were about an inch and a half thick and so doughy that I felt like I may never be able to chew them up enough to actually swallow. They tasted alright, but be sure you’ve got something to wash them down with. (5 points)
Bacon: West St. has by far the biggest slices of bacon I’ve seen from any of the places on the bracket. They were decently crispy, but a little heavy on the grease. (5 points)
Scrambled Eggs: The scrambled eggs were pretty tasty. The ratio of fluffiness to runniness was dead on, and they had good, eggy flavor. (7 points)
Pancake: This pancake was so good, I can’t repeat what I wrote about it in my notes. It was huge and fluffy and a little sweet without the addition of syrup. Watch your back, Brother Juniper. (8 points)
Grits: West St.’s grits came with cheese already mixed into them. They were more sticky than watery, though. (5.5 points)
Service: The service at West St. Diner was friendly and efficient, but nothing remarkable. (7 points)
Atmosphere: West St. Diner’s seating area feels very bright and homey. However, there seemed to be some lights out over the counter where you pay, which made things a little drab. The mid-morning crowd was mostly groups of older people taking their time over coffee and biscuits. (6.5 points)
Price: The price seemed a bit high, even though the portions are large. The total was about $14 for the meal and drinks. (5.5 points)
Total Score: 56 points
And now, the scores from West St. Diner’s downtown competition, Miss Polly’s:
154 Beale Street
Memphis, TN 38103
Order: The Soul Man Breakfast, coffee
Coffee: Maybe it was because I was the first customer of the day (I got there a little before Miss Polly’s opened), but the coffee was super fresh and hot. (6.5 points)
Biscuit: Whoever Miss Polly is, she makes a fine biscuit. It was doughy and crusty in all the right places. (8 points)
Bacon: After eating a lot of bacon, I’ve decided that I’m a big fan of bacon that’s light, a little crispy and not too thick. Miss Polly’s delivered with two thin slices of flavorful bacon (though one was crispier than the other). (6.5 points)
Scrambled Eggs: Everything is bigger on Beale Street, it seems, including portions of scrambled eggs. My plate came half-covered in scrambled eggs that tasted great, but were a little too runny (as in, they made the adjacent biscuit a bit of a mess). (6 points)
Pancake: Miss Polly’s didn’t have pancakes, so they’ll be averaged out at 5 points. (5 points)
Grits: The grits had a more oatmeal-like consistency than most, and they were pretty tasty when dressed up with butter, salt and pepper. (6.5 points)
Service: Despite arriving at Miss Polly’s about ten minutes before they were technically open, server Lisa welcomed me in and took my order. And then we had a conversation that lasted for the duration of the meal about school, marriage, and what to wear on a job interview. Expect to walk in a customer and walk out with friends, especially if you’re the only person there. (8 points)
Atmosphere: Miss Polly’s is very Beale Street. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, and judging by the signs all over the restaurant, most of their menu items are fried. They were playing the Blues Brothers, though, which made me smile. (6.5 points)
Price: The price was incredibly reasonable at just under $9 for plenty of food. (7 points)
Total Score: 60 points
Miss Polly’s will move on to face the Bardog Tavern in round two.
The second round will be judged on the house specialty / my choice of meal, orange juice, service, restroom cleanliness, atmosphere and price.
Here are the standings going into round two (click for larger image):