Brunch at West Gray Cafe: A Comedy of Errors

There are three things I want out of Sunday brunch:

1) To get day-drunk, preferably off of mimosas. 2) To eat tasty food. 3) To temporarily forget by means of reasons 1 and 2 that I have to go to work the next day.

That's it.

Last Sunday, West Gray Cafe failed to accomplish one single item off of that short list, and in the process tarnished an otherwise wonderful weekend.

When we left the house on Sunday morning, we were originally headed to Barnaby's, one of my favorite places.

Barnaby's has kick-ass, big-ass mimosas, and its burgers are some of my favorite in town. I know that a burger isn't exactly a traditional brunch item, but so what? Brunch is about excess at early hours, whatever it is that suits your fancy.

But instead we decided to try someplace new, and what a disaster that idea turned out to be.


West Gray Cafe really has little good going for it.

There were cars out front and people on the patio when we pulled up at around 11 a.m., so I figured it couldn't be too bad. My mother always said that you never go into a place with no cars and no customers. That's just bad ju-ju, she says.

I take her advice more often than not. She also says it's always a safe bet to eat where you see cops eating. They know the good places.

I ordered a pitcher of mimosas to start. At $11, they didn't seem terribly priced, but what you get -- or at least what I got -- wasn't worth half that amount. When I first poured and drank one, all I could taste was too-sweet orange juice, the "from concentrate" variety.

Thinking it just needed some more bubbly, I figured asking for some extra would fix the lack of fizz.

After a spell, our waitress obliged me with a small extra cup, but it was as flat as the bit of sparkling wine that was already in my pitcher. Terrible. I can mix Andre and Sunkist for a more enjoyable mimosa. Such a simple thing done so very wrong.

Our food, a CFS for me and Greek Wrap for her, took more than 20 minutes, then came out cold. It was remarkably underwhelming. My chicken-fried steak was tough, overly breaded, greasy and floating in a thickly congealed, cooling mass of white gravy. The hash browns on the side were the one slightly redeeming part of the meal, but they were far overshadowed by the negatives.

My girlfriend summed up her Greek Wrap with two words: "'s food." It came with a bag of Lay's potato chips.

If we had only gone to Barnaby's, I could have had a great meal and skipped the anger that still plagues me days later.

I took the road less traveled, and I am all the worse off for it.

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Sam Brown