Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Lazy Jane's Morning

Photography by Amanda Manteufel
There are few things that I'll wake up before 7:45 a.m. for. I'm simply not an early morning person, and I'll choose sunset over sunrise most any day. But breakfast with a friend, especially when I know I won't get to see that friend for a length of time, is one thing that I make exceptions for. Recently, Amanda drove me to the airport to catch a flight to Philly, and so we breakfasted at Lazy Jane's Cafe and Bakery, a haunt so well-traveled to in Madison and such an East-side staple that it needs little advertisement.

Lazy Jane's' food is good, not great. But I appreciate a restaurant's ability do at least one thing exceptionally well, one thing that you'll consistently crave and return for, and that thing, at Lazy Jane's, is the scone.

Pictured here is the cherry, though I always struggle with the decision between the cherry and the lemon cream. Both are glazed in sugar and heavy with ingredients no one could call light. The fruit is always tart and fresh. What is nice is that if you just want to pick up scones from Lazy Jane's, you can walk into the restaurant (there's generally a line from the front door to the register), pick up a foam glove expressly there for this purpose, and signal to the counter staff that you'd like bakery to go.

I am also a sucker for cream cheese used well in breakfast food, and the cafe's SCC delivers a simple, yet well-balanced plate of eggs, scallions, and cream cheese.

Lazy Jane's potatoes are not my favorite; I usually leave them behind. There are thickly-cut and fairly greasy. The toast is fine; it's hard to go bad with Rye, and the cafe provides various jams, jellies, and butter to adorn the toast.

After I saw Amanda's BLT, I felt a little jealous, though . . .

Many in Madison love Lazy Jane's kitschy, homey decor and establishment in a two-story house, with many odd objects scattered around. It is kid and family-friendly, and children have not only books and toys available to them, but space to sprawl in the upstairs room.

What I enjoy about the decor is that it is like looking into a person's home; you learn a little bit about that person and what (objects) she or he finds significant. I like how most people I eat with at Lazy Jane's have a preference for which room or nook they like to eat in.

Some downsides to Lazy Jane's: the chefs call out loudly when your food is ready, and you pick it up in the window pictured in the first picture above. When you sit upstairs, it is hard to hear your name being called (I've begun in recent years to rely on the pseudonym Angelica, which, due to its four syllables, makes hearing it much easier). Sometimes, the jarring repetition of people's names adds to an unpleasant cacophony in the restaurant (and when people don't come down to retrieve their food, the chef yells louder and louder until you almost want to take someone's else's food to make it stop). The wait is often also a minus, so if you need to be somewhere in a hurry, Lazy Jane's is not your pitstop.

It is a perfect choice, however, when you have a lazy day ahead of you and want to stay on the East side. My friend David recently bought a house, and in his search, he said that it was important that the neighborhood he lived in have a neighborhood bar, by which he meant the street life and community that would foster such as enterprise. I feel similarly about restaurants; each neighborhood should have a walkable brunch joint, and Lazy Jane's fits the bill. This winter, on the one snow day I've ever had the luxury of experiencing in Madison, a few friends and I spontaneously brunched at Lazy Jane's (I took the opportunity to wear my snowboarding overalls, the adult version of the onesie, and something every adult should own), and it was a beautiful afternoon of conversation, coffee, and food. It was a special gathering of people whom I don't often get to brunch with and on a day when I'd ordinarily be working.

On this morning that I brunched with Amanda, I reveled in the early morning conversation that only two close girlfriends can share. We traded thoughts on books, and her description of Cormac McCarthy's The Road prompted me to buy it in the airport and devour it in one sitting, as I generally do with my cherry scone.


  1. Argh. Tried to leave a comment and then the site timed out on me...anyway, all I wrote was that I never made it to Lazy Jane's that frequently but I do remember passing some very pleasant "too cold to be anywhere except indoors" winter mornings upstairs at Lazy Jane's with Sam & Oliver. And yes, their scones are delish!

  2. I recently came under CONTRACT, missy. No jinxes.

    I always liked Lazy Jane, though not until I saw the upstairs, which I love.

    Also, where's the second Philly post? I demand more love for Philadelphia!