Since my first winter down south, we have been going (often) to John G's. While it may be a new location (they moved into Manalapan plaza following a big renovation over at the old Lake Worth Casino), one thing remains the same- the line up. Oy vey. It doesn't matter what day of the week it is, there is always at least a bit of wait to get in the place. And to be honest, I never really understood why, but I suppose I chalked it up to nostalgia and tradition. We always go to John G's. Everyone goes there!
In the new Manalapan location, the room is bright and spacious, but packed with hungry families in every corner none-the-less. While it may not be nearly as "country cozy" as the original, they managed to preserve a lot of the same paraphernalia and decor to fill the walls.
So this year, we made our annual trip and I gotta say, we were both a tad bit disappointed. While we only had to wait for 5 minutes (it was a Monday, and we are only two of us), the rest of the experience was a little unmemorable.
Service was very friendly, attentive, and snappy (in and out in under 30 minutes), but lacked the personable you're-in-your-mammas-kitchen kind of feel that I remember from previous visits to the Lake Worth location. While no fault of my server, I was given a coffee mug with peanut butter smeared on it, which was later replaced by another with lip stick marks. Luckily, three times a charm and I eventually got my hands on some Joe.
Food wise, we both ventured on the sweet side of breakfast, going with:
Raisin Cream Cheese Stuffed French Toast with side of Bacon
I was really impressed with the level of crispy exterior they managed to accomplish with this one, and because it was essentially two thick pieces glued together, the inside was in contrast, really moist and soft. I did think that the cream cheese could have used a bit of seasoning (cinnamon, maybe a pinch of sugar) to balance out its inherent tart savoury flavour because it otherwise required a lot of syrup to make it work. Bacon was good, rendered out but not overcooked.
Short Stack of Banana Pancakes
I was pleased that they would honour my off-the-menu request to add bananas (and they were generous with them too), but I found the pancakes gloopy and underdone. All good- I just ate the banana bits :)
If you're a lover of fresh Florida citrus, then this is your kind of fruit cup. I'm not crazy about it myself (I find the grapefruit overwhelms everything else in the dish and makes it all taste of bitter pith), but the man adores the stuff.
So for $30 and a brief wait, we landed ourselves a nod to tradition, a lot of decaf coffee and an pretty okay breakfast. We miss the old JG, but as tradition dictates, we will surely be back next year (on a Monday preferably where we can avoid the line). See you for french toast in 2014!
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Abbey Sharp is a Registered Dietitian (RD), an avid food and recipe writer and blogger, a passionate home chef, a food event hostess and the founder of Abbey’s Kitchen food media brand. Learn more about Abbey’s background, food philosophy and the diverse series of gastronomic adventures that she’s got on the go!
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For date-night dinners that are easier on your waistline and your wallet, keep checking back for more information about the release of Abbey’s first full-length cookbook, Kitchen Foreplay!
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