I submit that one of the greatest losses suffered by parents is the hangover.
That’s right. The hangover.
Before those adorable 6am alarm clocks in footed pajamas came along, a mild hangover could feel kind of luxurious: an excuse to lounge around in a dim room, stay in your sweatpants, watch a little mindless television, eat heavy breakfasts at noon, say very little to those around you, and indulge in your hangover cure of choice — I liked coffee with indecent amounts of cream. Time slowed down — because you simply couldn’t move any faster. While I certainly don’t miss waking up with a headache — and who’s got time for shenanigans like that, anyway — I do miss the enforced slowness of a Sunday morning hangover.
While parenting and lazy hangovers no longer fit together in my world, there is one place where they go together like jam and toast, or, like whiskey and a chaser: the Suburban World Theatre. No longer showing Hollywood hits, the Suburban World now projects old-time cartoons — Looney Tunes, Betty Boop, extraordinarily un-PC early Mickey Mouse — and serves up a diner-style brunch every Saturday and Sunday. Parents with kids who have been up since the crack of dawn open the place at 9am; the hangover crowd tends to take over in the late morning.
This is not the bustle of a typical breakfast spot: The lights are low (“dark” is another good word for it) and rather than the clank of silverware and the buzz of cheery conversation, the only noise is the familiar “Buh-buh-BUH-buh, th-th-th-that’s all folks!” Cabaret tables and a couple of low bars — perfect for kids — fill in where the theater seats once were and they’re all separate enough from one another that it’s easy to ignore your fellow diners, enjoy your family’s company (but the kids are too distracted to chatter), and get ready to face the day. Otherwise, the theater’s interior is almost unchanged, with the lights twinkling in the starry sky above and faux evergreens growing next to even-faux-er Roman columns.
The breakfast menu is straight from your favorite diner. (In fact, if the late, lamented Uptown Diner was your favorite diner, this is literally true, as the chef hopped next door to the Suburban World after that landmark was razed.) Eggs, hash browns, sausage, bacon, and toast and, to spice things up, gyro meat and tzatziki sauce. I now choose the two-egg skillets ($9) over the four-egg omelets ($7.75–$9.75) because, well, a body’s not so young any more. If it’s been a rough week, breaking the yolk of a fried egg over a pile of hot chilaquiles ($9, below) — still-crunchy tortilla chips cooked in red or green salsa — can make all your troubles go away, for at least a few minutes. And the huevos rancheros ($9) will fuel a couple of circuits around Lake Calhoun and then some.
You can choose breakfast or lunch items no matter what time you come in, but the lunch side of the menu? Never tried it. I just can’t bring myself to order a BLT, a tuna melt, gyros, or a burger (everything in the $8–9 range) at 9am. That’s a terrible admission for a reviewer to make, but I defy anyone to plop down in front of classic childhood cartoons and maintain that what they’re really craving is chicken wings or nachos.
This isn’t award-winning, local-seasonal-organic, or my-body-is-a-temple fare. I’m pretty sure both the vegetables and the hash browns came out of the freezer. Those “scrambled” eggs for my skillet are awful flat. And ordering blueberries or chocolate chips in your pancakes is recommended — there isn’t a lot of flavor in the “maple” syrup. But for anybody who’s ever spent a late night at a Denny’s or a Friendly’s, this is like coming home.
The coffee however, is another story. There’s no other way to say this — and it comes from a place of love — so I’ll just say it: The coffee sucks. It tastes like it came straight from a church basement percolator. On a day when they were running a little low on coffee grounds. Or forgot to put them in altogether. So I’m not saying you should bring in your own coffee from somewhere else — that would be beyond rude — but I am saying that I myself have been sorely tempted.
But I forgive the Suburban World and make a note to caffeine-up beforehand next time, because my belly is full of good eggs and my kids are sitting in front of me, with their forks dangling above chocolate chip pancakes, absolutely convulsed because Bugs Bunny just said “Albakoykee” and they keep repeating it too each other, the younger one almost nailing the accent. And then Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner come on and the kids beg to watch just one more and we say, Sure, why not, it’s Sunday morning and time can stand still for a while.
Nursing a hangover? Nah. I don’t actually miss it that much. This is so much better.
Suburban World Theatre
Cartoon breakfast in Uptown Minneapolis
3022 Hennepin Ave
BAR: Full bar
RESERVATIONS / RECOMMENDED?: No / No
VEGETARIAN / VEGAN: Yes / No
ENTREE RANGE: $8-9