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Tom’s – Plate 16
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Tom’s – Plate 16

A fatter version of Matt Armendariz just walked into the Starbucks at which I’m trying to break my writer’s block at. This is not a good month to get any kind of writer’s block. I figure I will be writing about 50,000 words. Fifty thousand. That’s an entire book this month alone. I talked to Steve from Waiter Rant and he said that if I was going to get a book deal, I’d need to have original material. In order to help me out with this requirement, I’m recording all of my conversations with each of the writers on the project. The 8GB memory card on my HTC hero has 2,253 hours of recording time left on it – but I can’t figure out how to transfer the files to the computer, so I have to keep this thing from falling into the toilet for the next month. Wish me luck.

Holy crap; I don’t know if the “Slap that Bass” song from Ella Fitzgerald or this syrupy Postal Service tune is more annoying. Starbucks changes their CDs once a month and it’s usually a five-hour rotation, so it doesn’t get too draining, but there’s this one stretch of show tunes that’s about 20 minutes long; I believe it’s meant to drive people like me out of the shop. There’s gotta be a psychology behind this.

Fat Armendariz just asked me to take some pictures of him with his friend. God, I need to start talking about this restaurant!

I asked Billy what he liked on the menu, and he starts rattling off dishes; Pumpkin walnut pancakes, Crab Cakes Florentine, Lemon Ricotta Pancakes, Western Omelet, Pumpkin Walnut waffles with cinnamon butter … Is there anything on the menu he doesn’t like? Billy is a younger Italian guy with old guard sensibilities; loves his neighborhood, loves his food, loves his restaurant. I don’t know long he’s been at Tom’s, but he’s a great ambassador to the shop and makes Steve and I feel right at home here. It’s 10AM and it’s slowed down a bit so he takes our order personally.

My Pumpkin Walnut Waffle (above) comes out plain, which should be enough because there’s a smorgasbord of butter and maple syrup on the table, but for a food blogger, this doesn’t really offer me any camera fodder. I get the attention of a server and the waffle is transformed to something a bit more food-porny and delicious. I can never have enough whipped cream on my waffles anyway.

I drizzle syrup onto the waffle and completely forget the whipped butters that were on the table (big mistake). Steve slices me off a section of his Huevos Rancheros (top) and I do the same for him with my waffle. The Huevos – I take a bite and immediately want to switch plates with him. Refried beans, rice, cheese, and salsa (with meat or no, I forget exactly), all in exactly the right proportions. Sometimes you get this dish and it’s got too much salsa; makes the whole thing run soupy with salsa mess, but this one held its character without getting wet.

I thought that one was the winner of the breakfast until my last bite of waffle. I hadn’t followed Billy’s instructions about the butters (right) until just now when I remembered they were supposed to be a huge upgrade. I slathered my remaining waffle in the cinnamon butter, and behold; it transformed the ordinary into true waffley delectability. Delectability is an actual word, by the way. The spice and sweetness brought out the pumpkin in the waffle and balanced well with the moist walnuts

Tom’s was a great pick. Steve’s comment at the end of the meal: “Best Diner in NYC.” After my pumpkiny-walnutty-cinnamon-buttery deliciousness, I am inclined to agree.

The show tunes just came on …

Guest Writer: Steve Shaw

The IRL Arts Foundation and The Wandering Foodie thank Tom’s for providing this meal.

782 Washington Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11238
(718) 636-9738

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