Cuisine With Claire: Breakfast, With a Wait
By Claire Jen '10, Staff Writer
11:30 a.m., Sunday: I wake up to pangs of hunger, ready to wolf down fried eggs and tater tots at Val. The roommates slowly creep out of hibernation one by one, and slowly it dawns on us: Val doesn’t open until dinner! Well, if the food does not come to us, then we must go to the food.

We decide to go to Stables, a staple breakfast establishment on Route 9 (on the right, before the Salvation Army) that serves generously portioned country style food. The owner, Roy, actually worked in the kitchen under the previous owner before purchasing the place three years ago. He still works in the kitchen now, cooking and baking all of their homemade breads.

12:30 p.m.: We arrive in record time, knowing that the popular place is generally stuffed to the brim with anxiously waiting customers. On my previous visits, I’ve been meekly herded into a line that sometimes snakes around the bar seating and even outside. This time however, I arrive to find that Juliet Silberstein ’10 and Katherine Black ’10 have been patiently waiting for 15 minutes without so much as a “Hi, welcome to Stables.” In fact, their valiant attempts to flag down busy waitress #1 (later identified as Kristen) and #2 (later identified as Betty) go obviously ignored.

12:40 p.m.: Not to be outdone (and suffering from low blood sugar, lack of caffeine and a seriously growling stomach), I stomp over to the small window where the cooks serve up the meals. “I’m so sorry to bother you,” I say sweetly, “but my friends and I have been here for a while, and we were just wondering how long the wait will be.” Kristen, the busy (too-busy-for-you) waitress, tries to ignore me, but I tap her on the shoulder. “Umm,” she says, looking surprised that we are expecting to sit down, “Five to ten more minutes probably.” Not to be outdone, Silberstein jumps in innocently: “Oh, were we supposed to tell you we were waiting for a table?” Kristen the waitress ignores her and walks away quickly. We approach Betty, an older waitress, full of experience dealing with hungry people, we think. She snaps, “People always have to wait. We’ll get to you, just stand in line.” We protest that we were just tired of being ignored, but to no avail: the rest of the wait staff had made the unanimous decision to ignore us too.

12:50 p.m.: After bargaining to sit at a small table designed for four (there were six of us, one with a torn ACL), we order our delicious, gargantuan meals. I remember my first visit to Stables a few years ago: massive, generously flavored potatoes, a giant lump of eggs and light, fluffy homemade bread. While the homemade bread is just as delicious (the honey wheat is my favorite, but Silberstein likes the cinnamon raisin for French toast), there were barely enough spices to cover the potatoes, and Black’s three scrambled eggs looked half the size of Maryam Khan ’10’s one. The oatmeal Caroline Yachan Smith ’11 had tasted great, but looked like poorly mixed recycled paper until she added milk and butter. Naike Savain ’10 comments that their coffee, while unlimited (although she had to flag down Kristen the busy waitress twice to get it), was only “slightly better than Val’s.”

Granted, Stables is generally reputed as one of the best breakfast places near Amherst, with tasty food and great prices (Stables is the cheapest breakfast place around—you can get a feast, like the “Farmer’s Daughter” or the “Starving College Boy” for six or seven bucks, and you can get a big bowl of oatmeal for $1.75) That much is true — but I felt that paying customers should be accorded with a welcoming attitude and good service, and we felt like unwanted guests.

1:45 p.m.: We leave. On the way out, after I mentioned wanting to write a review, Kristen and Tammy (busy waitress #3) sweetly comment that they like my hat, and to have a good day. Unable to decide whether their change of heart is a genuine salutation, or a purposeful attempt to placate my party, I add this detail so that the reader can formulate his or her own opinion.

Issue 19, Submitted 2010-03-25 08:43:59