14 October 2007

becky's diner

dining date: 10.14.07
eatery: becky's diner on commercial street
web: becky's diner
pricing category: sort of expensive for a plate of shit
guest critic: mamamimosa
overall grade: D+

the lowdown:
- becky's seems to be the most well-known breakfast establishment in portland, attracting everyone from lobstermen, to college students, to families…so prepare to wait when you go there.
- like cilantro, people either love the food at becky's or think it tastes like dish soap.
- the recent facelift might have provided more parking spaces, but it makes this wharf-side fisherman's hangout look a bit more like an insurance agency.
- this diner is somewhat lacking in atmosphere and personality…reminiscent of a hospital cafeteria
- the menu states multiple times that you get only one free refill of coffee…err what?
- speaking of the menu…this joint has more surcharges than bank of america. for example, tack on an additional:
• 10¢ for raisin toast
• 20¢ for an english muffin
• 25¢ for homefries
• 50¢ for two packets of honey
• $1.00 for each extra egg
• 50¢ for egg beaters
• $1.75 for real maple syrup
• 15¢ if you're a sucker for hazelnut coffee instead of regular
- there is a peculiar seating system. we have a hunch that the random seeming number that they give you is actually a table number, and that you are basically waiting for that particular table to leave. what happened to just seating people in order of when they arrived?

the food

the benny girl
- commercial street sandwich: egg, cheese, bacon, and tomato on an english muffin, homies, ½ a blueberry pancake, and tea
- grade: D

"let me start this review by saying that i effin hate becky's. but in the interest of unbiased journalism, we had to review it at some point. the experience actually turned out to be quite perfect – i was given plenty of material to write about, without having to actually eat the disgusting slop on my plate or pay for my meal. that's right folks – add another tally to the "free meals that benny girl's been given because of inferior quality" list! clearly, becky's is not the kind of establishment that would be classy enough to have eggs benedict (and actually, they state quite clearly on the menu that they won't poach eggs), so i had to go with the closest thing on the menu – an egg sandwich on an english muffin. as soon as it arrived in front of me, i threw up in my mouth a little at the mere sight of it. the homefries were a mushy pile of boiled and unseasoned potatoes. the yellow cheese was solidified on the egg under strips of greasy bacon. but it was the english muffin that really turned my stomach…it was an odd shade of gray and was literally spongy with grease from the grill (just ask the usual because i made her touch both halves). i love this column, but even juicy writing material wasn't enough of a motivator to actually put that muffin in my mouth. so i asked our server for a new one and she offered to give me one that's toasted instead of grilled. from my spot in the booth, i could see the toaster perfectly as i forced down homies drowned in ketchup. thousands of pieces of bread went through the toaster…but no english muffin. about 15 minutes later, my egg, bacon, and cheese had all turned hard and cold, and the server brought the check – NOT the muffin! about 2 minutes later she realized that she had forgotten it and brought it over, but i told her that the sandwich innards were way too cold to eat at that point. she took the item off the bill (BOOYAH!) and let me keep the new english muffin. so i left becky's with only tea, potatoes, and half a pancake in my belly. but that's okay, because if i'd eaten the sandwich, i'd probably have left with nothing in my belly because i'd have puked in the parking lot. i would have aimed my vomit at the annoying PDA couple in the parking lot, who "middle school slow-danced" for about 40 minutes, unable to let go of each other. i will say, however, that the tea and the pancake were both good. that's what kept becky's from getting an F from me. so there you have it. i am so glad that that review is behind us so i never have to set foot in that overly-hyped diner ever again."

the usual
- 2 eggs, toast, add homefries for extra, coffee and ½ a blueberry pancake
- grade: C

"okay, so i didn't go into this place with an open mind. well, i did the first 2-3 times i went in, but by this time, my mind was fairly well made up that becky's is the most overrated breakfast spot in portland. reading that statement will probably promote one of two reactions: a) elation: you are pumped because someone has finally given becky's the smackdown it deserves or b) rage: you are boiling mad at the very thought of someone disparaging the diner of your dreams. if you fall into the "b" category, you are wrong. after 40 minutes of waiting around outside, (becky's is awfully popular) we made our way through the blindingly white room to our table. the walls glistened beneath the florescent lights, and a lone flat screen tv served as the only decoration. i perused the menu, only to find myself instantly distracted by the first paragraph listing becky's rules and regulations regarding substitutions (see "the lowdown" section). i felt the net of conformity tighten as i realized that becky's is not about what you CAN do, it's all about what you CAN'T. i placed my order with our friendly server, but my mind continued to wander. would she wait until i reached to bottom of my mug to give me my one and only free refill? would a top-off/warm-up go down in my chart as a full refill? only time would tell. despite the busy-ness of becky's, i will say that the food arrived very quickly. i dug in, not expecting greatness, but hoping (uselessly) that the food would be decently good, on par with portland's other diners. as you can probably imagine at this point it was not…my eggs were pretty mediocre and definitely cold by the time they reached the table. The toast was dry, probably grilled and dashed with a tiny bit of butter or grease, but certainly not enough to make it delectable as toast should be. it didn't come with any extra butter and there was none on the table. i would guess that there is at least a 50 cent surcharge on any butter beyond the initial skimpy amount, so i made due with what i was given. the potatoes were a sorry excuse for homefries in a country with decent stockpiles of salt, pepper, and most other spices. i've heard rumors that they come from a can, and though i find that hard to believe, i think potatoes from a can would probably taste an awful lot like them. these homies taste like boiled starch blobs that crumble away tastelessly in your mouth leaving you alone with the ketchup and the taste of your own bitterness. none of it was very good. i couldn't finish it. i will say the pancake was tasty, it had plenty of butter and was a nice consistency. yippee. so to those of you who love to hit up becky's for those lazy sunday mornings, climb out of your rut. reward yourself with a new experience at one of portland's many superior breakfast spots. you won't be disappointed.

wild toast
-spinach omelet with cheese, rye toast, homefries, coffee
-grade: D+ (there's nothing plus about this)

"becky's, becky's, becky's… so here we go, let us all hold hands, toss salt over our shoulders, and throw caution to the wind. we arrived with one thing on our minds. is this "new and improved" becky's (who is becky?) going to be better than the poor excuse for the eggs and toast of yesteryear? or is it going to live up to the sub-par, inexcusable existence of its last carnation. friends, let me be the first to say, tie your laces together and hopscotch away, and by that i mean spend your hard earned moola somewhere else. i am begging, pleading, exfoliating my triumphant and eclectic regards, i implore you, as you are self-respecting, conscientious, able minded/bodied souls, DO NOT GO TO BECKY'S. it's not worth the crappy food, it is not worth the free bumper sticker, or the 40 minute wait you are destined to suffer in the purgatory of the line. anyway, our waitress, let's call her candace for the moment, was nice. candy didn't charge us for the refills of joe, which i believe is the new standard (ridiculous) and she also brought a local hot sauce when asked, and overall, (aside from benny girl's fiasco) was quite pleasant. my terrible cup of coffee arrived and a short time later our meals appeared. this, i am willing to admit, is one good thing, the food arrives very quickly. however, this doesn't mean much. if when you receive your food you expect some marvelous, seasoned, inspired morsels of food-bits, then you should jog down to the local save-a-lot, and peruse the shelves of canned beans, cajun fungal creams, red hot whisker wads, and swiss-made-ham-jellies. my spinach and cheese (whiz) omelet was truly a depressing meal. watery, yellow, and bland, the powdery pepper couldn't punch up the ego of this eggy mire. the homefries were not really even worth mentioning, but for my fans i'll note that they were bad. if you'll go for a walk down memory lane with me, let us arrive at 3rd grade when we all got to try dehydrated ice-cream sandwiches. do you recall the excitement, the caged and hyper stomach pangs of yearning? then you sink your teeth into the styrofoam card of disappointment and cringe back as you feel ashamed and deformed and realize that you are actually sitting in becky's paying for a pile of dismay. so…my toast wasn't very good either. i would urge my dear friends (that's you) not to go becky's.

-3 eggs over medium, homies with chedda, tomato and broccoli, wheat toast, coffee & H2O
-grade: D+

"first off, mimosas were not on the menu. ugh. but I WANT ONE! i could have had a bud, miller, or even a shipyard, but no mimosa. so i opted for a water and coffee. the water came large and cold but the coffee left me slightly on the sleepy side. however, i was pleasantly surprised when the waitress provided no hesitation as i ordered my homies with chedda, tomato and broccoli. "that sounds good!" she chirped. my hopes were dashed when the meal arrived a little too quickly. if they had left my eggs on the griddle just a dite longer, they would have shown up over-medium as opposed to barely over easy…..the yoke broke on the way to the table spilling onto my toast……i want to apply the yoke to the toast…...gag me with a boiled potato covered spoon! about those potatoes. the formerly beautiful little irish bundles of starchy goodness were boiled giving them a slimy texture. bad news. the broccoli was cooked well but the tomato was diced so small it may as well not have been there at all. if i ever am looking for a breakfast monkeys could cook, i will head back to this fine establishment. no offense to the monkeys."


pwaitkun said...

bout time someone else has had portland's own come up through their throats before getting in their cars to drive home and change their shirt and pants. Back in the day Becky got her start by convincing the city council to open. The catch was originally the business"Becky's Provisions" was to supply commercial boats with food and provisions for their fishing trips. Hmmmm the business never seemed to get this off the ground and soon all was forgotten concerning the provisioning aspect while the establishment began to carve itself a name in the town. Right from the get go this bowery class eatery has pretended to be an establishnent which provided an niche in Portlands breakfast eatery business. Make no mistake you will get robbed by eating the dog chow that comes out through the back window. That is in case your server can think to pick it up!

hammer said...

Sorry you had a bad experience at Beckys. I have eaten there a dozen times over the years and I agree with some of your comments. My experience is that parking is still a big problem, the food is expensive, the service is very good and the food can be incononsistent but never at the level that you described.

james said...

glad to see someone finally making an accurate assessment of this overpriced "portland staple." i went there one time, and while perhaps that is not enough to form a truly informed opinion, how can one forgive a diner that can't cook an egg correctly? isn't that their basic item? their "bread and butter" if you will? how many eggs do they put out a day? a year?

anyhow, marcy's rules becky's droolz.

mitch said...

All i have to say is i haven't had breakfast at Becky's but they have a killer cheeseburger. i am a burger fanatic and for me they come in two styles, gourmet style and diner style. Becky's is sort of in between cause they're cooked to order but it is really delicious. I have had about 4 of them and every one was spot on.

And the waitresses are always so sweet ... it's hard to believe the breakfast is sooo bad ... i will have to go try for myself