Imagine you’ve traveled with your spouse to his or her business meeting in another city. You’re staying in the chain hotel that has been booked for the meeting. And you don’t have to get up as early as your spouse.
Those microwave eggs down the hall in the little breakfast area don’t sound too appetizing, do they? Neither does drinking coffee from little Styrofoam cups when you know a real mug always makes it taste better. So what do you do?
Why not look around for a better breakfast? Mary the Photographer and I were working on the book and spending the night in Pittsburgh’s wonderful Shadyside neighborhood (read this for someone else’s take on it). Our hotel did not serve breakfast and so we had to find something on our own. I had a couple of recommendations for Pamela’s (raves about the pancakes) but because of my book research I knew that the Inn on Negley, a local bed-and-breakfast, serves breakfast, brunch, and high tea for anyone, not just their overnight guests. I decided to go for that and leave Pamela’s for another trip.
In the morning we took an easy stroll to the Inn, admiring the diverse architecture and gardens on the way. We walked in the front door of the Inn and waited in the large Victorian parlor before being seated in the breakfast room. We chose the table and overstuffed chairs by the windows—a little sunlight, a little garden view.
Dorothy, our server, presented us with a menu and the options of a breakfast or a brunch (the latter is served until 1). We chose breakfast. I ordered the French toast and Mary eggs with herbed potatoes, bacon, and toast. The Inn’s website says, “not an ordinary breakfast,” and that’s very accurate. We were first presented with a fruit cup—fresh chopped mango and strawberries with banana, blueberries, and blackberries. (Not a cantaloupe in sight!) And smooth, rich coffee in white china. Lovely.
My French toast was light and moist, infused with orange. I added a little syrup but it wasn’t necessary and I ate most of it plain. Mary enjoyed her breakfast as well (I was almost sorry I didn’t order what she did) and she had me sample the bacon as particularly good. As we were finishing our meal, the classically trained chef, Albert Cappuccio, came out to ask how everything was. We raved.
Something else people don’t know about local inns is that innkeepers are often more than willing to show potential guests a room or two. Some may even do formal tours. Knowing we were not overnight guests, Dorothy asked if we wanted to see a room and of course we did. She took us first to the handicapped-accessible suite on the first floor, the Braeburn, and then upstairs to the Arkansas Black (yes, they’re all named for apples). The rooms are beautifully decorated but not fussy, very comfortable and definitely more than just a bed.
As Mary and I walked back to our hotel to check out, we did what we always do after a good visit: answer the questions “who do we know who wants to stay here?” “Which friends do we make sure to tell about this place?” The list this time was pretty long. And now I’ve told you.