A Simple Breakfast at Pearl Street Diner

The weekend before Christmas and downtown Burlington was buzzing. Shoppers laden with bulky bags tromped up and down Church Street, and lines outside some of the hip breakfast/brunch places snaked onto sidewalks. But J and I didn’t want fancy crepes or artisan French toast. We wanted an honest omelet, filled with meat and veggies, with just the right amount of cheese–more than a sprinkle, but not so much that it oozed all over the plate.


The Pearl Street Diner, introduced to us a couple of months ago by my stepson, was exactly what we were seeking. Its simple decor, complete with red vinyl-uphostered booths, allows customers to focus on what’s important: the food.

With my first cup of coffee in hand–in a mismatched mug, which is the general theme with the dinnerware here–I perused the menu. The kitchen offers nothing fancy, nothing expected, just the basic eggs, pancakes, and morning meats: bacon, sausage, and hash. Breakfast comes too early in the day to work hard at deciphering an avant-garde menu, in my opinion.

I went with the Philly cheesesteak three-egg omelet with a side of rye toast; J ordered the corned beef hash, house-made, of course.

We didn’t have to wait long for the food to arrive. Mine was just what I wanted: filling without being too much. The steak was tender, with just the right among of cheese–no oozing here. The hash browns are covered in a spice mix that was too salty for my taste, but J enjoyed his.

If the food doesn’t bring diner back to the Pearl Street Diner, the friendly, prompt staff will, for sure.

 

New Friends

On our regular four-mile loop through Burlington’s Hill Section yesterday, Archie and I encountered several of the regulars: Charley, the feisty puggle; the border collies who twirl and spin into each other as we pass by; the delicate toy poodle who squeaks ferociously at us from his window seat perch. We see these canine neighbors several times a week, year after year. Occasionally, I’ll realize that I haven’t seen one of our furry friends recently—the elderly golden retriever who had a cancerous tumor removed from his head land was last seen with a drainage tube sprouting behind his ear, or the rickety greyhound, still searching high and low for his rabbit—and wonder if they’re still with us.

IMG_0164

Last spring, we crossed paths with a woman who shared her life with one our regulars, an uncharacteristically docile fox terrier. On that afternoon, she was alone. As we neared each other, I recognized the red, raw eyes, drooping shoulders, and slow, shuffling walk. I too have experienced that pain.

She stopped walking as tears flowed uncontrollably. Through her sob-interrupted explanation, I understood that the still-young terrier had become suddenly ill and did not survive. That day she was taking a final walk with only his memory to accompany her. Like many in the aftermath of a dog’s death, she avowed to never have a pet again—it’s too hard to say goodbye, I don’t want to be tied down.

The summer has come and gone, and though I was hoping she’d welcome a new dog into her world, I hadn’t seen her… until yesterday.

The petite terrier jerked his owner from tree to hydrant to mailbox post and back again. But the woman didn’t care. Her head held high, her jaunty stride, and her laughter as she nearly hogtied herself with the retractable leash told me she had returned from the empty-souled land we enter after loss.

“I’m so happy for you,” I said, giving her frisky new companion a wide berth to avoid having my shepherd ensnared in his leash.

She looked down at the bundle of energy she was connected to and grinned. “I am, too.”