Sunday morning is an ideal time for breakfast with friends. Sometimes we travel together and sometimes we all meet at a particular restaurant. Texts and phone messages and had been relayed and conveyed. I set out slightly early and arrived at the Pine Cone in University Place about a quarter to nine . . . fifteen minutes early. Judging from the parking lot it looked like there were quite a few people already there. I thought to myself, “Perhaps, I can still claim an open table for me and my friends.”
The second dining room was virtually full, but the big dining room by the entrance was completely empty. I looked around and chose a table that would accommodate six people, although Peg was still in bed and not joining me. We only needed five seats. The table was right in the middle of the dining room. I talked with one male waiter and two female waitresses. I explained that I was the lead scout. I wanted to claim a table before the “churchy people” arrived. “The churchy people, don’t come until after eleven,” was the reply. All three were friendly and helpful. Soon I was drinking coffee and waiting. No one showed up. I texted a query and a second later my friend Donn queried me asking if I was going to join the group. After a few more texts it became clear we had a little mis-communication. I had suggested Pacific Southern on Pine Street by the Tacoma Mall. When I got the official word from everyone I heard “Pine Cone.” I told my friends just to enjoy themselves. I would stay at the Pine Cone and then stop over at my daughter’s home and visit. She and my son-in-law only live about four blocks away.
I already knew what I wanted: Chicken Fried Steak with hash browns . . . burnt, burnt, burnt. I explained this carefully to Autumn. She said, “Well, I could ask for them to be spread out so they all get brown.” I said, “Sounds good . . . just so they’re about the color you hair. (brown with a little gold).
There were no trumpets and the heavens didn’t open, but Autumn the Angel brought me the best hash browns I have ever eaten. I’ve ordered hash browns at the Pine Cone before and had decent hash browns, but these were seasoned just right and brown and crispy with just a little white peeking out from beneath a ton of gravy covering both my chicken fried steam AND my hash browns. This was twice in one week that a waitress had done her best for me. I was sooooooo pleased. Autumn set my plate down in front of me.
Laid out before me was a veritable breakfast feast. I still had several glasses of water around me, empty creamer containers, and an excellent cup of coffee. The sourdough toast was perfectly toasted with enough butter to keep it interesting and two containers for jam (raspberry and marionberry). I sprinkled pepper over my eggs and the gravy. I took a deep breath and dived in.
I had asked about the gravy initially. I asked for it on top of both my chicken friend steak AND my hash browns. Everything was perfect. It was all more than I could eat. I left one egg and two toast halves. The hash browns underneath the gravy were in little clumps where they have been separated to brown. The steak was almost as good as the hash browns. Almost. I will return. Maybe really soon.