Thursday, March 20, 2014

Redwood Cafe

Morning: at the Redwood Cafe in Montavilla, where I just had a grand breakfast: a “breakfast sandwich” of scrambled eggs and roast pork and arugula on ciabata. Just why one makes “sandwiches” that are too large to handle, I don't really understand: but you can eat the innards as breakfast and the outards as toast and it works fine. I was breakfasting in splendid isolation, but now a second customer has come in. My fear of crowds was apparently misplaced.

Of course, they don't open till nine – when the day is half over – so it's more like lunch to me than breakfast. But I was getting increasingly unhappy about driving all the way over to Tom's: it was the sort of deep nonsense that cheap fuel fossil fuel breeds. A twenty minute drive just to get breakfast? When there are cafes within walking distance? (That serve, I have to admit, food that's much tastier and much less processed.) There was a reluctance to really admit I live in the Outer East; a reluctance to let go of our old neighborhood.

Also a reluctance to let go of the cafes of my youth: Tom's is indistinguishable from the cafes I grew up with. Whereas this place has intentionally kitsch touches, walls painted a deep, saturated red, and music that one might actually want to listen to. And, of course, chairs rather than booths. The coffee is made with probably double the count of beans per fluid ounce: if I treat it as agreeably flavored water I'll be in for a case of the jitters.

And here, of course – this is perhaps the heart of it – here I am an old man. I've got thirty years on every other human being in this establishment. At Tom's, I'm average-aged and in magnificent physical condition: here I'm on the far side of the hill and distinctly shopworn. My white hair flares in the morning light, and signals my incongruity.

                                              . . . derided by
         A kind of battered kettle at the heel.

But. Good food, a candle struggling to stay alight in its lake of wax, and a cloth napkin that delights my fingertips. I actually like all these things. It's not so bad, sometimes, that the world changes.


Lucy said...

I often wonder if these trendy places which we're reluctant to accept as replacements, whatever their advantages, will in time become as established and shabby and nostalgic as the ones we miss. I'm not convinced they will, I think they'll just change or fold as the fashion moves on.

Dale said...

I'm curious about this too, and hoping I'll live long enough (and eat at enough restaurants) to find out. I don't think the qualities that mark a long-lived restaurateur change much, though. You have to make it happen for people every single time they come through the door, using only the labor and materials you have on hand that day. There are never all that many people who can do that year after year.

Nimble said...

I am amused as I get older to realize how I recognize and gravitate towards those in my tribe (age bracket). When I was younger all those old people looked alike!

Zhoen said...

Everything transmutes. Holding to the old thing is not the same as staying the same.

Marly Youmans said...

What shall I do with this absurdity-
O heart, O troubled heart-this caricature,
Decrepit age that has been tied to me
As to a dog's tail?

Although we all know that I adore Yeats, occasionally it's time for somebody else who is really quite good:

"To me, fair friend, you never can be old."

Just remember, you're not just "an old man." You're "a grand old man" of poems and good work and an expert body thumper.

Anonymous said...

Loved this post. I love all your posts. Reading "Mole" is like time with a best friend. Delighted to the point of hysterics with "outards."

Dale said...