Photo from Malabarista Lunar's Flickr page.
I've just taken my brekkie at a local caffeine-hawkery called the Boiler Room, and I have come up with a new rule for myself: never eat in a cafe, or if you do end up eating in a cafe - you'd better have a good excuse. Cafes are for coffee, and flirting, and flirting over coffee, and maybe wifi access, and even perhaps flirting about wifi. But they are not places to have lunch, if you want anything more substantial than a stale bran muffin.
I ordered a ham and cheese sandwich and a large coffee. The sandwich amounted to three or four slices of ham, a little cheese, and some spicy mustard melted together all quirkily on a waffle iron. A waffle iron! That's all fine and dandy. But with a price-tag over five dollars, the place should really throw some bougie thing on there to fool me that I might possibly be getting my money's worth - like a sprig of fucking parsley, maybe, or a side-dish that's a little more interesting than stale potato chips. Hasn't the Boiler Room ever heard of goat's cheese? Or arugula? I think that if you're going to rip me off, you can at least put in a good-faith-effort to gussy the dish up so I don't feel like a complete chump. All up my breakfast came to over seven dollars. For that price, if I went to a decent greasy spoon, I could have ordered enough eggs to send me into a coma. I've had better food cooked by hungover high-school students.
The menu at the Boiler Room is less focused on food and more an assholey attempt at twee gimmickry. Their specialty is eggspresso! It's eggs cooked on an espresso machine! (Geddit?) And instead of bacon or ham they offer - get this! - they have spam! How hilarious! Everyone knows that spam is not even legally classifiable as food and nobody would ever want to eat it who's in their right mind! This cafe is so fucking ironic and cool for serving it!
Look, irony might be a cool conceit when you're hanging out at your indie art openings oggling the pretty girls or when you're thinking about what to get your latest face tattoo ("A celtic symbol? Or maybe a 1980s pixelated video-game character?"). But I don't want ironic food. I want something that tastes good. Preferably, I want a dish that surprises me, that overcomes my expectations, that is served with creativity and flash. Whatever you do, don't make my food cool. Or if you make it cool, at least make it taste good, or look good, or have some quality to it above-and-beyond coolness.
But don't give me spam and then charge me over five dollars for that spam because you're creative and edgy. Bad food - even when it preciously admits that it's bad food - is still bad food.