(continued from Of Costa Mesa and Far Too Much Coffee, Part One)
The next day broke blissfully late at 9 a.m. The only thing that propelled me from that quiet, comfortable hotel room was my need for caffeine and The Husband’s need for nourishment. We fired up the trusty Google again, looking for a breakfast place, and found one, strangely enough, across the street from the Antimall. Apparently our need for gluten and dairy-free fare puts us right in the middle of all things young and hipster, because we ended up at another place our kids would love.
This restaurant, Rooster Cafe, has a counter for ordering, just a few tables inside and four more outside, and serves a breakfast menu that consists of a handful of ways one can mix and match 15 basic ingredients. Sounds unimpressive? Oh, no. Not when you consider that 96.3% of their produce comes from local farmers markets, and all plates are made to order (“Patience, grasshopper, patience,” the sign says). Plus they have lattes, cappuccinos and Mexican hot cocoa. As well as a lunch menu.
At any rate, despite the fact that we got there just before 10 on a Monday morning, which is generally not the breakfast-rush time of the week, the place was hopping. We had to park down the street. We got the last outdoor table. The staff was cheerful, friendly and on the ball, the music was blasting the same alternative rock mix that Habana had offered the night before (hence the necessity for taking our middle-aged ears outside), and despite the sign’s warning to have patience, the food was ready in record time.
I had the breakfast tacos; he had the huevos rancheros. Both were served with a generous helping of homemade salsa, which was just spicy enough, and fried red potatoes, which were done to perfection and seasoned with a dash of cayenne. The coffee was strong and fresh-brewed, and the orange juice looked freshly-squeezed.
We shared the outside patio with a pair of fellow Late-Period-Baby-Boomers who were swapping the sober-for-X-years stories that are popular among our generation, and a younger couple with a two-year-old Sheltie and differing views in acceptable breakfast attire: he was clad in t-shirt, basketball shorts, crew socks and cross-trainers, while she wore flowing palazzo pants, contrasting rayon tank, beribboned straw hat and bright red lipstick.
While we ate, I resumed my commentary on what was going on behind The Husband’s back. “APPARENTLY,” I said. “that guy was afraid of parallel parking, because while there are three different spots I can see that he could fit that car into, he just hovered next to each of them and then took off down the street.”
We continued eating.
“No, wait,” I said. “He’s back!” The driver had flipped a u-turn, checked the parking on the other side of the street and had come to the conclusion that the spots across the street were the only ones available. He lined his car up just past the largest spot and cautiously backed into it.
“He’s on a first date with a very beautiful woman,” I predicted. “Parallel parking was not something he anticipated having to do.”
To his credit, he nailed the parking job, hitting it perfectly on the first try. He got out of the car and swaggered around to the other side to open the door for his passenger, who turned out, sure enough, to be a tall, beautiful red-haired woman. As he escorted her across the street toward Rooster Cafe, she patted him on the back, congratulating him on his parking job, then hung on his arm while the two of them paused in the middle of the street to look back and admire his handiwork.
The mixture of pride and relief on his face was a sight to behold. He looked a little like someone who has just won the lottery. A little bit like he was afraid he might awaken at any minute and discover the whole thing was a dream.
We finished our meal, but before we left, I went back inside and asked for a business card. The server behind the counter gave me a deer-in-the-headlights look and then said he would look for one in the back. He appeared back a few minutes later and said apologetically that the owner would bring one out. Thus ensued an agonizing two minutes in which I tried desperately not to block access to the tiny counter, the condiment station and the trashcan while the servers behind the counter tried not to stare at me as they wondered why I would ask for a business card. By the time the owner appeared with one, I wanted to apologize for all the fuss, but instead, I thanked her graciously and tried to appear business-like as I sauntered out the door. For all she knew, I was a professional food critic, not just a middle-aged Mom who simply wanted to recommend the place to her adult son and his friends.
Back in the car, we set off on the rest of our adventure. The rest of Monday beckoned.
–to be continued–