Walter Mencken 11 a.m., May 24
The weekend breakfast crowd at the Huddle is a mix of hung-over twenty somethings and family-type regulars who have likely been going there for twenty years. The place has been around for a long time and has an old school vibe that emanates from the chalkboard specials menu to the charm of the slightly crooked printing on the frequent diner card.
The man who controls the coffee pot is amiable and makes good conversation as he invites diners to sit where they will. The coffee's hot and the refills are plentiful, which is perhaps the most important part of a late and lazy weekend breakfast, and the man pouring the java remains friendly as he takes orders. His ability to keep an eye on the sidewalk tables from his place behind the counter is impressive.
The food is straight-up diner food: omelettes and egg dishes, pancakes, french toast, and waffles. It's unpretentious and comforting, but because of that it lacks the capacity to really dazzle or surprise. The fanciest thing on the menu is eggs benedict, though the man does mention that they make their own Hollandaise sauce rather than mix up something from a packet. Everything's priced between $6 and $10, excepting of course the beverages and a la carte items.
Chicken and waffles seems like the only right thing to do on a glorious morning, and it proves rewarding. The chicken's breading is a little on the heavy side and packets of greasy starch hide in the nooks and crannies of the various pieces. Still, there's a huge amount of chicken and the meat is succulent and not fried to the point of dessication. The waffles comes served with some house-made apple butter that's richly spiced with cinnamon and a selection of preserves; each topping is quite good and increases the likability of the waffle by a degree.
The "Mac Huddle" breakfast sandwich is somewhat outstripped by the chicken and waffle plate. It contains the magical trio of bacon, egg, and cheese, but the English muffin lacks panache and the home fries are charred and taste faintly of an unidentified tomato product.
Overall, even with the average food, the Huddle is a nice respite from the kinds of places that give quirky names to pancakes and turns breakfast into a $40 meal. The service is friendly and a pair of diners can get out, stuffed to the gills and filled with OJ and coffee, for about $25 each.
4023 Goldfinch Street
Open 7 days a week for breakfast and lunch