*This is a repost of a blog from 2012*
It was my first Saturday back in Savannah. I am moving here. I was to meet my good friend Robin at a place that I–with seemingly singular innocence–had never heard of.
Twenty years is a long time and it had been more than that since I had lived in Savannah. Sure, I had visited, but visiting and living are not the same things. I only thought I thought like locals do and knew what locals know. It was all vanity. But native sons, like me, pretend to currency in all things “home.”
“Oh, blah blah, falderal, Jepson…” I might say, never mind that I had never actually been there. Or,
“La-dee-da, Ships of the Sea…you mean its not on River Street anymore??
So when Robin says, “let’s meet at the Breakfast Place.”
I say, “Perfect, which one?”
There was just enough silence to let me know that I didn’t know something I would have known if I hadn’t been living in, rather than visiting, Florida for the past two, plus or minus, decades.
The Breakfast Place, I learned, has been a popular, local eatery that is owned by the former owners of the Mai Wai Chinese Restaurant.
And, while it’s called the Breakfast Place, and it opens at 6 a.m., eggs and hash browns are only part of what they do… not that they don’t do a lot of eggs, with grits, with ham, sausage, pancakes or even a huge chopped steak or grilled chicken breast. Then, there are the omelets, all sixteen of them with traditional ingredients–ham, cheese etc., or with less mundane temptations of seafood, scallops, shrimp and spinach.
But the burger is what really brings us together today. It is huge and it is good. It is just really good. It comes trimmed out with simple, basic cheese, bacon lettuce tomato; you get the idea, crinkle cuts. But you can ask around Savannah who serves the best burger and the Breakfast Place is sure to come up.
Paul and Huong Tseng, two restaurant veterans, purchased the venerable old Mai Wai Chinese Restaurant that sat catty cornered but moved, after a few years, across the street. They shifted from Chinese to the current diner motif in 2004.
Huong runs the front of the house and Paul is in charge of the grill. And every day, the place fills up over and over with regulars…those in the know. It is not the kind of place that many people are just going to stumble upon not unless they happen catch a whiff off the grill from the UPS Store next door. I have managed to find my way back about six times in the past month.
Thus begins my re-localization, and with it this blog/column which I see as weekly, or so? It will look at things, people and places I have discovered or rediscovered in my beloved Coastal Empire, and I guess I can keep it up until I am an old-timer again. I hope that is a ways off.