Originally, I planned to write this review before the holidays. That means that I had to have eaten at restaurant before the holidays, which I did, but then I got distracted and lazy and never wrote the review. Now here I am
two six months later, and I can’t remember where I ate. As far as reviews go, that should probably be all you need to know. Don’t have any idea what I’m talking about? Read this. You can find my previous reviews here and here.
For any of you who happen to be soap opera fans, this post is the equivalent of my amnesia subplot. It usually comes sometime around the seventh season; after all the best characters have been killed off or married each other and the writers are reaaaaallly struggling to find plausible story lines (Cousin Oliver, I’m looking at you). Having my own amnesia episode is a pretty bad sign, because I still have, like, a BUNCH of other restaurants to visit. Bare with me as I struggle to put the pieces of this brunch back together.
Before I look through my photos and the list of restaurants to jog my memory, let me recount the few fragments I can remember.
1) M and I ate there after going on a long walk
2) We ate wherever we did because Food:Table was closed, so that probably means that we didn’t eat at Food:Table
3) M, my dining companion, told me that I “had better be taking notes” in regards to what she thought about the food. M has been getting really uppity lately. Obviously, I didn’t take notes, which is why I can’t remember where we ate. Notes might have been helpful, but still M needs to remember her place.
So maybe I didn’t take any notes, but I did take one picture, which was of what we ate. Here it is:
That looks pretty good, right? albeit in a sort of generic brunch-y way. By the way, I remember the name now. It was John’s Ocean Beach Cafe. The hard plastic tabletop with that “Meet George Jetson/Tomorrowland/1950s-vision-of-the-future” was the giveaway.
John’s was pretty grungy. Maybe “ramshackle” is a better word. It’s closest neighbor is a Norman Bates-esque vacant motel, which, for those aspiring real estate moguls with severe mommy issues among us, is FOR SALE. It’s, as the name suggests, near the beach, in a corner of the city that’s perpetually shrouded in fog, so bring a sweater.
Since John’s is about as fancy as the Salvation Army, it’s cash only and the ATM is broken — a crucial detail I wasn’t able to discern until midway through my transaction. I asked the waitress about it, and gleaned that this a long established fact. It’s entirely possible the ATM has NEVER worked. It may just be a relic that washed ashore one day many years ago. I like to believe that John intentionally keeps that broken ATM as a harbinger to those who dare to bring modernity into his restaurant. “You can take your PayPals, and your eBays, and your ACH transactions with their associated interchange fees and go jump in a lake,” I image John saying to anyone who asks about it. You see, John’s still pretty bitter about the end of the Bretton Woods system.
“What was so bad about a fixed rate of gold convertibility,” he’ll ask anyone who lingers at the counter too long. “What’s a fiat currency ever done for you? Nuthin. That’s what!”
Still, my imaginary belief about John’s firm stance on monetary policy notwithstanding, it would’ve been nice if someone told me about the ATM before I stood there fruitlessly willing it to dispense cash. Or, better yet, if someone had affixed a sign to the front informing patrons about its out-of-order-ness, I could have avoided the whole ordeal. I would have suggested it, but I didn’t have time to listen to another diatribe about the Nixon Shock of ’71 (Legal tender? HARUMPH! More like BARELY legal tender).
“Where might the closest ATM be?” I asked. “Well, that one’s broken,” the waitress informed me, now in my 12th minute of standing in front of the broken ATM, “Maybe at the liquor store down the road?”
It’s hard to believe that I could be the first person to ask this question, but her uncertainty underscored the fact that John’s OBC exists in a time and place before such fancy modern contraptions. If you happened to be sitting with your therapist and he asked you to do a word association based on the ethos of John’s OBC it would probably be something like Happy Days Rerun/driftwood/Hair Club for Men.
But guys, the food was pretty tasty and CHEAP as heck. I wish I could remember what I paid, but I’m pretty sure my BLT with feta and fries was like six bucks. M got poached eggs with hollandaise on biscuits, which was similarly priced. I can’t check the prices because John’s doesn’t have a website. Don’t get me wrong, both items were DE-LISH. The coffee was good too. John obviously took his entire tablecloth budget and his entire website budget and used them both on butter, avocado and cheese. A decision with which I can’t really take issue.
This place is clearly for locals. It’s in a part of town where there isn’t much, and probably provides the area residents a decent place to get a meal. But if you don’t know the protocol, no one is going to help you. This restaurant was chosen by Supervisor Katy Tang. I don’t have a ton of opinions about Katy Tang. She’s pretty in the same way as the co-anchor of your local nightly news.
If she weren’t representing District 4, you could easily see Katy Tang saying things like, “… reporting live from the scene. Officials are not making any comment at this time. The grandmother of the alleged perpetrator is saying that he would never decapitate a neighbor intentionally. Back to you, Bill.”
None of this has anything to do with why she decided to bestow John’s Ocean Beach Cafe with her public appreciation, but it sort of feels important anyway. She probably picked John’s as a way to reach out to that crucial “Guy who lives in a Winnebago” voting bloc.
Eat there if you happen to be in the neighborhood. Unless you don’t have cash. Also it closes at 3pm. Lunch or nothing. That’s just how John rolls.
That’s my “You don’t know where the closest ATM is?” face