We’re driving ’round downtown Tampa. There’s some down-right lovely things to see, if you just look up.
We’re groovin’ to our old hometown buddy Tom. (We don’t actually know him personally, but if we did we’d buy him breakfast!) I bought Mojo at Vinyl Fever. It feels like an old friend is dying. We already lost Unique Video a couple years back and now this.
We’re driving by the old Tampa Theater.
We’ve got Marek.
We’ve got Ivo. (Bet you’re wondering how everyone fits in the Pancake Race Car!)
We’re parking in the vast construction site that is downtown Tampa.
They’ve some opening hours that defy the laws of physics. It’s not possible to be open 8 days out of 7. Is it? Think there’s some quantum funkytown going on here? I’m sure we’ll find out.
Inside is long and lovely and aesthetically pleasing. I’m curious why they’d have such a fine minimalist space and then resort to such a hyperbolitic word as “Emporium.” (We’re aware of the irony of calling them out on “Emporium” by using a word we just made up like “hyperbolitic.” Marek thinks that’s funny.)
Also, this morning, no people. But it’s early. Not everyone gets up at the crack-o-pancake like we do!
Here’s what brought us to Fresh. We’d heard that there was this mythical treasure mountain of cereal, and they do custom mixes just for you. That’s a lot of cereal. For our most loyal of readers, I hope you are not disillusioned to find that Marek actually has Fruit Loops 6 days a week.
Marek found us a spot. For some reason he found the table the longest distance away from the cereal towers. Spiteful, this kid is. And always with the ketchup these days. I don’t even know where he found that.
Remember that issue with the physics, the 8-days, and the suspected space-time-continuum problem? Let’s do an experiment. This is Quantum Duck.
Whoah. This place IS freaky. It appears that there are TWO Quantum Ducks. The one on the left is peering back at us from … The Eighth Day of the Week!
Ivo’ll take care of that pesky Quantum Duck and its fabric-of-time paradox. Errr, pair-a-ducks? He learned how to handle this sort of problem from Stephen Hawking.
But on to the breakfast.
Marek was going to have a pancake, but they only sold pancakes in stacks of three and wouldn’t break the set for us. More on this at the end of our review.
I had the Fruity mixed cereal, which was a lush mashup of Fruit Loops, Apple Jacks, and fresh fruit cut up. All served in this pseudo-Chinese-Takeout carton, which was interesting in its own right. Marek, for reasons related to him being three and sometimes very difficult, had actually already eaten this morning so he wasn’t really hungry, he just decided he wanted a pancake after he saw I had cereal. Then he just eyeballed me for a while.
Here’s a closeup.
Ivo moves in. He’s making a play for my breakfast! Ivo, by the way, is not actually drunk on cheap liquor in this picture.
Four months old, and already he’s eating my breakfast. I don’t know how he did that … he doesn’t even have teeth!
Marek says to me, he says, hey long chops, I’ve been doing this for going on two years now, so let’s give me the camera already, old man. I told him I’d only do it for a kiss. I’m that kind of mushy-love-my-kids-dad.
But, take a look at the hands around my neck. Is this some sort of mafia boss kiss of death?
So I hand Marek the camera, which double-duties as my mobile phone so now he’s going to answer if Mayor Iorio calls to ask our advice about what to serve for breakfast at her next Mayoral function (pancakes, ma’am).
And whuddyaknow? Kid took a good picture. How do you know he took it? You can see both my hands!
And he got a good snap of me and Ivo walking, too. Kid’s got skillz!
The bill was very mild. We didn’t have much, really, so I’d hope it’d be mild. Really neat and delishus cereal, a nice tall coffee, and an orange juice, all weighing in at $5.76.
On our way out we talked to Brian, who appeared to be the proprietor or manager. We were talking and chatting and he asks how it all was and I told him it was fine, except that I wasn’t really keen that we couldn’t get a singleton pancake for the boy. Apologetically, he admitted that today was the Very First Day that they were doing all this “real” breakfast stuff, and that, honestly, they did not have everything together in terms of pricing or portioning.
So he gave Marek a cookie. Please note that this cookie, if this photograph is to be believed, is approximately the size of Ole Mater Marek’s head.
I gave Brian our card and explained our Breakfast Mission. He suggested that maybe we ought come back to do a real review when they have it all smoothed out. That, and the cookie, flipped my attitude right around from the south side of neutral to the positive side of let’s-come-back. Also, Brian, while we were talking I left my to-go coffee cup on the counter by the register — sorry about that! We at Tampa Bay Breakfasts pride ourselves on being neat.
We walked back to the car. It’s a beautiful morning. While we were in Fresh a nice couple came in and were talking about a stair-climbing race. Turns out the American Lung Association has a fund-raiser that involves climbing the stairs to the top of the Bank of America building. I mentioned this to Favorite Guest Reviewer Mom and she said that sounded fun enough to sign up for. Also, good luck mystery girl we talked to at Fresh! The AIM Team (Andy, Ivo, Marek, natch), will cheer all y’all on from the pancake wagon downstairs.
Marek asked for that cookie when we got to the car. I handed it to him. Put the car in gear. Look over my shoulder. And it’s gone. That cookie was like two pounds, at least 37 inches in diameter, four inches thick. Well, maybe not, but it was a Big Cookie. Another physics mystery here.
We got home and rode bikes with the neighbors across the street. They’re all pretty numb to our Breakfast Celebrity status, so it’s normal stuff like “hey” and “whutzup” and “your kid just walks in my house to use the toilet all the time.” I’m sure J-Lo and her neighbors are the same way.
For our loyal readers in Canada, Europe, and Up North, it’s 8 January and about 70 degrees this afternoon. Don’t hate us because we’re beautiful.
Turns out our neighbors had chow at Fresh for supper last night. Their comment, which I agree with enough to repeat, is that the place is visually appealing and the food is quite good, but the flow of experience for the customer doesn’t make any sense. Thinking back, I spent a lot of time standing and walking back and forth, trying to figure out if I was supposed to order at the table or at the counter, and if at the counter, at what point (it’s a lot of counter). It wasn’t clear where to pay, as the register is tucked in behind a column and I didn’t notice it until we were leaving. I assumed we were supposed to bus our own table as there were trash bins by the door, but that wasn’t clear. I like to leave good Tampa Bay Breakfasts tips, but I walked out without doing so because it never seemed like there was a place or point or purpose to leave a tip. Our neighbors had the same feeling last night: good food, nice folks, lovely setting, yet I feel lost.
Our Tampa Bay Breakfast formal review of Fresh is: Deferred. Brian, we’ll cheerfully take your suggestion and come back in a few months to give a real review and rating once your breakfasts get in the groove.