Hallelujah for Tallulah!

Tuesday, April 6th, 2004

Brighton has an incredibly high turnover of businesses: shops and cafes come and go at the blink of an eye, and just as soon as you’ve gotten used to something being in a particular place, it changes hands or shuts down or turns into something else, and you have to start getting used to it all over again.

In a way this is good, I suppose; the town certainly isn’t stagnating. However, when something comes along that you really like, you find yourself hoping and praying that it does well enough to stick around for a while.

Something lovely and new has come along in Brighton recently, and luckily it’s just down the street from where I live. And judging by the number of people I’ve spotted there, I should think it will be around for a while. It’s called Tallulah’s Tearooms, and while the name makes it sound a bit frumpy and old-fashioned, it’s actually a bright, fresh and friendly cafe with a clientele as eclectic as its menu. It’s only been open for four weeks - and in the past two weeks, Jeremy and I have been there three times.

We tried it out for the first time the Sunday before last. We passed on the traditional Sunday roast and went for a club sandwich (for me) and stuffed mushrooms (for Jeremy) instead. The club sandwich had real roast chicken and homemade mayonnaise on it; the stuffed mushrooms were laden with tangy goat’s cheese and accompanied by the type of salad that I make at home (this is a Good Thing - I’m rather fond of my own salad dressing). We were mightily impressed with the quality of the food and the friendliness of the atmosphere, so we headed back again the following Friday for a late lunch/early dinner. This time we went for a salad with pan-fried salmon (for Jeremy) and a homemade hamburger (for me). Again, it was absolutely delicious, so when yet another Sunday rolled around and we found ourselves hankering for a spot of brunch, we knew where to head.

The first time we were there, I had seen on the menu that they served an "American breakfast", complete with "American-style pancakes". Now, I don’t have a particularly sweet tooth, and I don’t usually partake of really large breakfasts, but I still have a massive weakness for pancakes. I love pancakes - big, fluffy, tender pancakes (buttermilk, sourdough, blueberry, chocolate chip, whatever) slathered in melty butter and absolutely swimming in maple syrup, like the kind you can get in any diner, anywhere in the USA. I always feel ill after eating them, but I love them nonetheless, and in all my years of living away from the States, I have never - that is, never - found someplace that served proper American pancakes (if I could just make good pancakes myself, this wouldn’t be such an issue - but for some reason, I am pancake-impaired). So I eyed this menu item at Tallulah’s with some suspicion, but I ordered the American breakfast anyway, hoping beyond hope that someone on this side of the Atlantic had finally gotten it right.

Tallulah’s got it right. The pancakes were perfect. They were not crepes masquerading as American pancakes. They were not Pfannkuchen. They were not the thin little pancakes that everyone here supposedly eats on Shrove Tuesday. They were fluffy and tender, warm and golden, served up in a stack and accompanied by two eggs sunny-side up and two pieces of salty bacon that got all drenched in maple syrup, just the way I like it. Those pancakes absolutely made my day. I was so delighted I just wanted to shout, "Hallelujah for Tallulah!" - but I restricted myself to doing a surreptitious little happy-dance at the table and giving my compliments to the chef.

Now, if someone could just get me some decent Mexican food and some saltines, my culinary life here would be nearly complete.

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