If my wife had been watching me read the paper that day in late December, she might have been puzzled by the rapidly changing emotions on my face, changing in an instant from a smile to confusion to displeasure. I was reading Bay Weekly’s Best of the Bay edition, hoping to find some local treasure that somehow had missed my radar. As I reviewed the categories, I found some I very much agreed with (Best Concert Venue: Rams Head) and many that I didn’t know much about (Acupuncture). Some went on my list to try (Best Sushi: Umai), and some I disagreed with. But among the mild reactions of agreement or disagreement, there was one that must have brought a look of shock and horror to my face: How can IHOP have been voted the best breakfast spot?
I like IHOP. In a former life when I did a lot of business travel to unfamiliar territory, IHOP was one of my go-to places where I knew I could get a decent meal at a fair price. But Bay Country is endowed with a multitude of excellent local breakfast spots. Shouldn’t one of these have been voted Number One?
These days, the usual way for a typical American to react to outrage is to start an on-line petition and demand a recount. But as I’m a writer for the Bay Weekly, I could use the power of the press to demand satisfaction. All I needed to do was convince the honchos at the paper to let me do this story.
My first idea — to take them out to half a dozen breakfasts at my favorite places — was too expensive, too fattening. I then considered hacking into the paper’s computer and inserting the story. No, too illegal and unethical. I decided my best strategy was guilt: I would remind them that to do my story on trivia I had to spend countless nights out with my friends in local taverns, eating, drinking and playing games. Good idea, wrong story. What’s more, I had recently taken three boat trips in sub-freezing temperatures to write my ice breaker and oyster stories. Any boss would have to feel guilty about sending someone to do that. If you’re reading this, they did.
We can’t redo the entire Best of the Bay Survey, but I can ask you to email me to tell us about your favorite breakfast place. If you think IHOP is the best breakfast in the area, email that too. In a future issue we’ll report what you and other readers say.
To prime your thinking, here are some of my local favorites:
• The Breakfast Shop in Severna Park: I’ve never been anything but delighted in my overall favorite place. It’s conveniently located just off Richie Highway with plenty of parking and a good number of tables. But during prime time expect a wait. Nine out of the last 10 times, I didn’t make it past the daily specials sheet; there’s always a winner on it. All the food is top notch.
• Grumps in Annapolis: Good quality, lots of interesting things on the menu, a bustling atmosphere. If it’s time for your calorie fix, try the chicken-fried steak. It comes smothered in sausage gravy with eggs and grits or potatoes.
• Chick and Ruth’s in Annapolis: The only one of my favorites to have been on TV (Man vs Food on the Travel Channel). It’s crowded and frenetic. Most people love it or hate it. There’s a large menu with something to please everyone. The corned beef hash and eggs is my favorite.
• The Frying Pan in Lusby: As down-home as you can get, serving big, old-fashioned breakfasts straight out of the 1950s packed with calories and nostalgia. Nothing fancy; don’t expect a breadbasket of brioche. But if you happen to like steak (or pork chops) and eggs with potatoes or grits on the side, you’ve come to the right place.
Email your breakfast place favorite(s) to Bob Melamud at [email protected].
If you missed my Trivia, Ice Breaker or Oyster stories, find them at www.bayweekly.com/articles/author/