Sunday, September 6, 2009

Sam's Morning Glory Diner

For almost as long as I’ve lived in the Philadelphia area, Morning Glory Diner has served me well – a reliable, favorite go-to for weekend brunch or a random weekday breakfast. It’s been years since Morning Glory – Sam’s Morning Glory Diner is its full name but no one ever seems to call it that – carried any real buzz around town. But even though the hype has quieted, the Saturday/Sunday crowds don’t seem to have diminished in the least. What keeps it going strong after more than a decade in business?

It would be easy enough to say it’s not the wait for a table, which easily runs into the hour-plus range on weekends. But on a nice day, when patience is more likely in supply, the wait can actually be a pleasant way to catch up with friends and make breakfast seem like an event. One might say it’s not the service, which can be surly at times – thought that’s never really bothered me. It’s definitely not the grits (taste like instant to me) or the coffee, served in tin cups that I really can’t stand. But, aside from those grits, it might just be the food, most of which is consistently good and far outperforms any expectations one might form around the “diner” designation. All in all, though, I think it’s the experience. The food, the location, the hipster/crunchy vibe, fair prices and, yes, the long wait all add up to an overall experience that exceeds the sum of its parts.

A long wait on a sunny day provides plenty of time to deconstruct the city’s single-speed stylings.

They may fit well with the table-top décor but I can’t imagine I’m the only one that doesn’t like drinking hot coffee out of stainless steel mugs.

Serving vessel and grit quibbles aside, the quality of the food is more than high enough to warrant the long waits. The individual, made-to-order frittatas will add to the wait time once you’ve ordered but are worth the wait, time permitting – tasty and more than ample enough to warrant a doggy bag. Southern cooking purists might find fault with the sheet-pan cooked, crumb topped “biscuits” but they’re a delicious base for seasonal house made preserves, both of which, along with homemade ketchup, are Morning Glory signatures.

Counter seating, an open kitchen and bemused, t-shirt-and-ink-clad wait staff are all integral parts of the MGD experience.

I never seem to have room for dessert after brunch. But if the pies as good as the preserves, pancakes and French toast suggest they should be, I’ll have to pay a mid-afternoon snack visit one of these days, Agent Cooper style.

Sam's Morning Glory Diner
735 S. 10th Street
(10th & Fitzwater)
Philadelphia, PA 19147
Morning Glory Diner on Urbanspoon

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