I have to apologize for having been so remiss about posting lately. I haven’t been cooking as much as usual in the last week or so, mostly because I’ve been doing a lot of my eating this week at egg, the little restaurant-that-could. I am again somewhat reluctant to write anything that could be construed as a restaurant review (and is indeed categorized as such), but egg is such a phenomenon — and so much the kind of phenomenon that is just up my alley — that I just have to write something about it.
And egg truly is a phenomenon. It is the kind of restaurant that inspires reveries. It is the kind of restaurant I didn’t even know I was missing until one magical day about six months ago when the clouds parted and led me to this sliver of down-home paradise, smack in the middle of Williamsburg. I think I might have heard angels singing. Oh, humble egg, with your all lower-case letters, your warehouse-bare interior, and your delicious, simple Southern food. Where have you been all my life?
Too many restaurants try to be too many things all at once. Not egg. It is unadorned, unpretentious. There are no gimmicks here, unless, of course, you consider the absolute lack of a gimmick as a gimmick itself. The first time I went, last summer, it was only serving breakfast, and I had a plate of scrambled eggs, cheese grits, broiled tomatoes, and a biscuit with fig jam. The next time I went, they had added lunch, and I got an enormous burger, rarer than most places will even consider serving it. The next time, I again went for breakfast (albeit at 2 pm on a Friday), where I more or less had a glorified (in the best, most glorious way) toad-in-the-hole, again served with broiled tomatoes. And this last time, dinner (a newish addition to the menu), I had duck and dirty rice for my entree, after splitting a starter plate composed of deviled eggs, beet-pickled eggs, country ham, and pimiento toasts and before ending with a slice of toasted pound cake with lemon custard and cream.
But if egg just had amazing food (which it does, and consistently), I wouldn’t feel the need to write about it. What is so interesting to me is how excited everyone I know is about it. People love egg. It has a cult following, and that following is fervent in its adoration. It is the kind of place that you feel is yours, the kind of place that allows everyone to feel that it is his or hers. Eating brunch at egg, with its paper tablecloths and crayons, you feel like you just rolled out of bed and came to the kitchen. You even get your own individual French press for your coffee, which — as many issues as I have with the limited quantity — is certainly a nice touch. Even the slow and sparse service isn’t a problem, instead just adding to the leisurely, at-home feel.
I love egg because it’s (relatively) cheap, consistently good, easy, and simple. Those latter two are aspects that I think people are appreciating more and more in restaurants, as we realize that a restaurant meal doesn’t have to be a production. Sometimes we go to a restaurant just because we don’t feel like cooking the same food (perhaps not quite as scrumptious, but the same dishes) ourselves. And that is okay.
The thing I like most about egg, though, is that eating there feels personal. Leaving out all the bells and whistles encourages you to concentrate on your food and, most importantly, your company. With food that tastes like the best version of food you could have made, a meal at egg feels like a meal at home, if home were a wonderful utopia filled with broiled tomatoes and biscuits and all other manner of goodies and good people and good conversations. Plus, I am told that the lunch menu has scrapple on it. Will the wonders never cease?