HE ATE: Hash tagged

By Mark Nixon

The problem with “seat yourself” places is that, once you’ve seated yourself, nobody knows that you’re there. On a Sunday afternoon a few weeks ago I ran into this problem when I went to Edmund’s with two friends for brunch. We sat, talked about all the town gossip, and read the Constitution of the United States of America aloud. When a server finally came to our table, we were so famished that our motley order reflected how frantic we were to get some food into ourselves.

We started with the Yo-Mickey, which can best be described as a mess of chicken chunks and tater tots. There was nothing flashy about this dish, which is exactly how the boyfriend wanted it. Another dish we ordered was the Hound Dog pancakes: two dinner plate-sized, golden pancakes layered with sliced banana, peanut butter, crumbled Oreos and whipped cream. I love a sweet breakfast, and I’ve indulged in these pancakes more times than I care to admit. 

The boyfriend ordered the Pitts-Burger, a patty topped with American cheese, bacon, hot mustard and fries. It had been a while since he’d had the burger, which used to be one of his favorites, and he was disappointed in the quality of the ingredients. Our tabletop was rounded out by the corned beef hash, which came with herbed potatoes, toast and two eggs. I love corned beef hash, but only managed about three bites of this dish. Our waitress offered a box, but once she cleared the plates the leftovers were never seen again.

A few weeks later my dad ordered the corned beef hash — the affinity for anything Irish runs in the family. He liked the herby potatoes, as did I, but complained that there just wasn’t enough corned beef in the hash. When he requested his eggs poached, our waitress was quick to demur — sorry, they don’t do poached eggs. 

On that same visit I ordered the meatloaf sandwich, which knocked me out. A big chunk of juicy, slightly spicy meatloaf, topped with cheese, on a crusty bun. I chuckled at the chicken Caesar wrap and chef’s salad that my other companions ordered and gloated at my good luck in ordering the best thing on the menu.

The boyfriend and I returned for dinner on a recent Monday night. The two of us and one other couple were the only diners in the entire restaurant, and I was disappointed when we walked by a row of three tables that hadn’t been bussed. He tried to order the Yo-Mickey again, which I put the kibosh on in favor of trying something new. The chicken quesadilla was bland and the shredded iceberg lettuce alongside was wilted and translucent. His burger, the Cowboy burger this time around, was topped with cheddar, barbeque sauce, bacon and onion rings. He was satisfied with it, although he was disappointed that the burger was well done and not the medium that he requested.

My taco salad was sized to feed an army. It came in a crispy taco shell bowl, which was loaded with ground beef, beans, lettuce, onions and a healthy scoop of guacamole. I liked that it wasn’t completely covered in cheese, which I find to be the downfall of so many salads. I ate a quarter of the behemoth and asked our waitress for a box. “I’ll see if we have one,” she said. “But I think we’re out.” 

My mouth got the better of me before I could bite my tongue and I asked her if she couldn’t run to one of the other three restaurants owned by the same company and grab a box for me. I honestly couldn’t believe that that had come out of her mouth. Troppo, also owned by Urban Feast — the parent company that owns Edmund’s, Tavern on the Square and the Black Rose — is across the street from Edmund’s. Edmund’s and the Black Rose share a bathroom. For her to suggest that I leave the better portion of an entre behind because she couldn’t find a box was utterly ridiculous and insulting. 

Downtown Lansing is hungry for a Sunday brunch spot. And some items, like the Hound Dog pancakes and the meatloaf sandwich, make a trip downtown worth your time. But until restaurants start providing better service, poaching eggs when that’s what the customer wants and greeting them when they walk in, then my weekend mornings are better spent firing up my own griddle.