It’s often been said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. While I’m sure that particular statement could be put up for debate, I have to admit that I’ve never been all that good at the whole breakfast thing. Most of the time I end up not eating until I make it into the office, and given the inherent limitations, that doesn’t leave a lot of options. My previous employer provided milk in the drink fridge and bowls were readily available in the kitchen, so cereal was usually a viable option, and if that didn’t work there happened to be a pretty decent bagel shop next door. When I was over at Microsoft, the cafeterias actually made a pretty reasonable breakfast (which was just about the only thing the cafeterias over there did well to be honest,) but given their limited hours I usually reserved it for the days when I got into the office really early (as in around 7am or so.)
Unfortunately, my current employment situation has limited my breakfast choices somewhat. Basically, unless I want to deal with whatever overpriced food-like substances happen to be peddled by the various coffee shops in the neighborhood (If you count the ones inside Amazon buildings I think there’s 9 of them within a 3-block radius of my office, and shockingly only two of them are Starbucks) I pretty much have to bring my own stuff. I’ve already tried cereal, but it requires bringing my own milk and my own bowl, and I’ve found that the milk has a tendency to disappear from the fridge. Somewhere along the line I’ve also picked up the apparently odd habit of bringing Cup ‘O Noodles to work and eating those for breakfast, and experiments with packets of oatmeal have provided reasonably satisfactory results as well. For the time being this seems to be the way to go, but ultimately I find that most days I’ll just skip breakfast and grab an early lunch. This isn’t a particularly good solution to the problem either, since an early lunch break seems to make the afternoon drag on for longer than it should. Ultimately I’m starting to get the sneaking suspicion that I’m just not doing this whole breakfast thing quite right.
I’m sure someone out there could cite all sorts of research studies that would tell me that my lack of proper breakfasting habits is going to cause all sorts of bad things to happen at some unspecified point in the future, but for the most part there just doesn’t seem to be time for it, and options for a proper breakfast (which would presumably be something like the toast, juice and milk that you see put next to the bowl of Frosted Killer Cocoa Bombs in the TV commercials to somehow turn it into a “balanced” breakfast) are few and far between. Somehow I manage to get by on my questionable breakfast habits, but I do have to admit that every so often it just gets to the point where I just feel the need to have a proper sit-down-and-eat breakfast.
Sure, there are the usual Denny’s and IHOP options for breakfast, but one of the best places I’ve found in Bellevue to go when you’re looking for some serious breakfast action would be the Lil’ Jon Restaurant just off I-90 in Eastgate. This diner and its Googie era building has been a fixture in this particular spot for nearly 45 years. Since it happens to be located next door to the Volkswagen dealership where I occasionally take my car for service, I usually find myself here while I’m waiting on an oil change or some other minor maintenance work, and it’s always worth the trip.
In stark contrast to the quiet solitude that I occasionally seek out with a late-night visit to one of the local Denny’s, on a typical Saturday morning Lil’ Jon is a beehive of activity, and you can get a front row seat to the action at the counter. Handwritten orders come into the kitchen on one of the old-school spinny carousel thingies (I’m pretty sure that’s the technical term) that have largely fallen by the wayside in favor of electronic ordering systems, and plates piled with food come out. I can barely read what’s written on the guest check, but somehow it all works out and the food manages to find its way to its proper place. And as you would expect with a place like this, there’s the usual crowd of regulars, some of whom I imagine have been coming here for longer than I’ve been alive.
On this particular visit I opted for what’s known as the 1-2-3 breakfast, which consists of a pancake, 2 eggs and 3 strips of bacon. As you can see, I couldn’t even fit the whole thing into the shot when I tried to take a picture of it. The pancake easily fills the entire plate, and seems to be roughly the size of one of the hubcaps off a ’73 Lincoln Continental. And they don’t mess around with their bacon here either. Unlike some of the slices of paper-thin disappointment with a flavor like it’s been rolled around in a campfire that seems to pass for bacon at a lot of the various chain places, these are nice crisp thick slices of bacon that can actually hold their own. Sure there’s nothing particularly fancy going on with this meal, but that’s not really the point of breakfast anyway, in spite of what the overpriced hipster bait places over in South Lake Union seem to think. After all, If you’re walking away from this place hungry then you’re clearly doing it wrong.
Although the prices at Lil’ Jon are quite reasonable compared to some of the other breakfast places around here, it is admittedly still a bit of a splurge, especially in the calorie department. Even so, every once in a while there just seems to be a need to quit messing around with cold cereal and sugary pastries of indeterminate origin, and just sit down to a proper full-fledged breakfast. And you’re going to find no shortage of it here at Lil’ Jon.