At Jeffrey's, creativity is on the menu.
Thursday, November 2, 2000
God has funny ways of punishing us. One of the most efficient is the assignment of names to individuals. Jeffrey is the type of name that curses a small child. It sounds goofy. Other kids will pick on you if you have that name. You''ll pick on yourself if you have that name. It''s kind of like Raymond. Or Ralph. Margaret for girls. Mary--you''re either plain Jane (that''s another one) or the Blessed Virgin. You know what I mean. Names can be a bitch.
Somehow though, out there in Mid-Valley--surrounded by the wilderness of Big Sur/Santa Lucia, the suburbanness of PG, the fairy-taleness of Carmel, the down-to-earthiness of Monterey, the quirkiness of Cachagua, the quaintness of Carmel Valley Village, in the Mid-Valley Shopping Center, a few doors down from that quaint little Safeway we all know and love--Jeffrey''s works. The name is charming in this not quite country, almost small town setting.
Me and Sweet Thing took a nice morning drive out there the other day, on one of those "it rained the night before and now it''s fresh and clean with scattered clouds and beautiful long shadows and dew drops on everything, and the birds are splashing around and happy" kinds of mornings before work. We pulled into the parking lot, negotiated the &*#@** speed bumps and slid into a lovely parking place right in front of a wall of magnificent purpley flowers (I called Martha Stewart to get their name but she''s still mad at me). There was a happy little hummer feverishly hovering, trying to drink the whole bush. A million birds ruffled the leaves on the trees lining the lot.
Strolling we began (who am I, Yoda?) to do. The way to do this place is to stroll. Don''t be in a hurry coming, don''t be in a hurry going, just stroll. As we approached Jeffrey''s--it''s set back a bit--it looked kinda plain, kinda country. Inside, it could be a breakfast and lunch (that''s what they do) spot for folks in any part of these great and fine United States (it is an election year). The decor is middle America, down-home cooking, "Alice, how''s the meatloaf, my lumbago is acting up again, little Jeffrey got sent home from school again for fighting" chic. There''s an L-shaped eating counter that seats eight. The kitchen and wait station are straight ahead as you''re standing in the doorway, then there are tables along the windows, with total seating about 40 to 50. Cute pastel curtains hang at about chin level when you''re sitting down (unless you''re Willie Shoemaker or Shaquille O''Neal).
They use cloth napkins. Simple table settings; wooden tables and chairs; cloth napkins. Irrespective of the practical need to control costs, since laundering bills stockpile quickly, there is no more welcoming sight in a casual dining spot than cloth napkins.
A friendly gentleman with warm eyes and heart seated us and offered coffee or any other beverage. Precious noticed the saying on the menu: "Our menu is only a guide, feel free to be creative." That''s pretty cool.
When the waitress, who was surprisingly calm even though she was taking care of a table of 20 cackling humans who asked for separate checks, came by to take our order, we opted for three things; regular egg dishes for our main course and the apple fritters with homemade sausage for the middle of the table. I believe I''m a good ways down the path to gluttony, ordering two-course breakfasts, but the middle of the table looks so vacant without the extra dish.
There were about five fritters fried, stuffed with small pieces of apple and dusted with confectioner''s sugar. The dish was accompanied by a couple of plump homemade sausage patties that were pleasantly not greasy and had a nice anise flavor.
Sweet Thing had your basic scrambled eggs with Swiss cheese. The cheese could have been melted into the eggs more, but I''ll be easy here seeing that they were pumping orders out for the oversized table. Home fries made up the remainder of the plate. I went with scrambled eggs and bacon, potatoes and toast, an American classic. The breakfast was satisfying and improved by Jeffrey''s use of top quality ingredients. Assuming correct preparation, which is the key to it all, this is a great, homey spot for breakfast.
I also flew a solo mission in for lunch on a Sunday afternoon. My grilled eggplant sandwich, interestingly thought out with Japanese eggplant, tomato, Jarlsburg, hummus, marinated onion and curry aioli, and served open-faced on wheat, proved to be light and flavorful.
Prices here are competitive and the menu, along with its adaptability, allows for a wide range of choices. Jeffrey''s also offers a full catering menu which, like the restaurant menu, encourages creativity. Ted Walter, chef/owner of Passionfish and a long time patron of Jeffrey''s, tells me that it''s one of the best places around for breakfast, and has been for some time.
112 Mid-Valley Center, Carmel Valley, 624-2029. Open 7am-3pm, Tuesday through Saturday; 7:30am-2:30pm, Sunday. Closed Mondays.