Wednesday, May 1, 2013

let's talk about Perkins.

I shouldn’t have to tell you that I’m not a very classy person. I shop at Goodwill, I watch trashy TV (more on that some other time), and I drink Mountain Dew (embarrassing, I know). As the Mountain Dew suggests, my non-classy tendencies extend to my choices of food and restaurants. That’s probably why I love Perkins.
After I got my driver’s license, I would take my brother and sister into Brookings on Tuesdays and Thursdays for their after school Tae Kwon Do. While I was waiting for them, I would usually go to one of three places: the library, WalMart, or Grandma Lorraine’s house.

On the days I visited Grandma Lorraine, we would go out for supper. Grandma Lorraine has been hard of hearing for as long as I can remember, so we would usually go to the quietest restaurant we could think of: Perkins.

Grandma and I went to Perkins time and time again, and we almost always got the same thing: the appetizer platter. That thing had more than enough food for the two of us, and Perkins’ honey mustard is to die for. To this day, I can’t eat a mozzarella stick without thinking of those appetizer platters with Grandma Lorraine.

My visits to the Brookings Perkins were not limited to nights out with my grandma. When I was tooling around Brookings with my friends and my Buick Park Avenue circa the early to mid 2000s, Perkins was the only restaurant in Brookings that was open extra-late on the weekends. My friends and I would go to a late movie or a play, and where do you go afterwards if you’re too young to go the bar? Why, Perkins, of course!

While I always enjoyed a good appetizer platter, I feel that Perkins’ strong point is most certainly its breakfast menu. (Any restaurant that serves breakfast all day gets major points in my book.) I’ve always been a breakfast person, so I can always find something delicious when there are eggs and pancakes involved. Personally, I like the build-your-own omelette: sausage and American cheese, baby. Perkins has the BEST hash browns: they’re crispy and salty, just as good hash browns should be. The build-your-own omelette meal also comes with your choice of pancakes, toast, or a muffin, which is a HUGE meal. For years, I got toast… until I wised up. Now, I always get the muffin and take it home for breakfast the next day (or, two breakfasts, as the muffins are monstrous).
Look at those things.
My Perkins days did not end in Brookings; no sir. I went to college in Morris, Minnesota, which was not fortunate enough to have a Perkins. The nearest town boasting any kind of civilization was Alexandria: about a 45-minute drive. During my freshman year especially, it was not unusual for a bunch of us to caravan to Perkins at 2am (and believe it or not, we were totally sober).

On New Year’s Eve 2008, my then-boyfriend-now-fiancée James had conned his brother Jesse, our friend Nate, and me into coming to see his band (Funky Gumbo, which catered primarily to drunk 50-somethings) play for New Year’s. When we showed up, we found that we were the youngest people there by at least a generation. This was in Glenwood, Minnesota: a mere 15-ish minutes from Alexandria. Jesse, Nate, and I left James and his drunk cougar fan club and headed to Perkins for a pre-2009 meal. We had a thousand times more fun there than we would’ve in Glenwood.
We're only this happy because our bellies are full of Perkins.
I had a Perkins dry spell in Denver, New Orleans, and for most of my tenure in Minneapolis. After all, with so many other restaurants to try, why spend too much time at Perkins? James and I lived four-ish hours away from each other when I was in Minneapolis, which totally sucked. From time to time, we’d try and meet halfway, which was somewhere around New Ulm. I remember eating at the New Ulm Perkins after at least a year without Perkins, and I’d forgotten how good it was. I felt like an old person, getting all excited over Perkins (it didn’t help that we were eating at 5pm, thanks to James and his weird internal clock).
The coffee adds to the old man factor.
Upon moving to Sioux Falls and discovering that it holds nothing but chain restaurants, I made a triumphant return to my Perkins roots. After all, they’re cheap and reliable: as long as I don’t stray too far from the breakfast menu (I once ordered salmon at Perkins, which was a huge mistake), I’m golden. Perkins even emails me coupons now, and the best part? I get a free meal during my birthday week. Three cheers for Perkins!
Matt over there is cheering on the inside.

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