I love weekend brunches. I love them so much that when I've placed an order I feel sad-because that means I've made a choice and I don't get to eat all the *other* breakfasts-yes the Spanish Omelette is wonderful, but because I've ordered it I can't get the Eggs Florentine, or the carrot-cake pancakes. I am also happy to eat these things for dinner. This might be because I'm a vegetarian or it might be because I really like omelettes and home fries.
All of this makes me a big fan of breakfast joints and diners. And I have to say that the North Shore selection kicks the Cambridge/Somerville selection's ass. Sugar Magnolia's in Gloucester is better than all the brunches in Cambridge combined. I would happily get up at 6:30 AM on a Saturday to go eat there. A foodie friend of mine admitted "I come here to overeat" on one visit and really-who wouldn't want to order pineapple fritters and dropped eggs?
However much I love Sugar Mags, part of my heart belongs to the Cityside diner on Cabot Street in Beverly. I have been there for dinner when it's been empty and for brunch when it's been full and never have I ever gotten less than wonderful, friendly service and cheap and tasty food.
When I go there on the weekends they have both grills going-one full of hash browns and bacon and one for pancakes and eggs. I think a grill full of fresh bacon is beautiful-even though I'm a vegetarian. It is wonderful to watch the two fry cooks work together and slide the eggs or pancakes onto the plate while respectfully (!) telling the waitress that one of her orders is up. Really, I wish the place I worked ran so well. In spite of the fact that it's they're busting their asses the cooks are happy to talk with you if you sit at the counter. They brew good coffee and the friendly waitresses keep your cup topped off. Even at the busiest they have a cheerful word for you even if it's just "Take care dear and have a nice day."
In the evenings on weeknights it's quieter and there are different people working but it's still awesome. The evening staff remembers me from previous visits and the fry-cook (instead of insisting on waiting for the waitress to take my order) will ask me what I want tonight. If they are out of home fries she will cook me fresh ones instead of making me french fries. And one of the waitresses has (more than once) noticed that I was reading and muted the TV (which at least is not showing Fox.)
Tonight I went there for dinner because I'd stayed at work late and it was cheap so I could justify eating out instead of coming home and waiting longer to have dinner. As well as an affordable that someone else cooked I got smiling, intelligent dinner conversation. This last is something I couldn't get at my own table in Cambridge-let alone at The Friendly Toast in Kendall Square.