Much to my girlfriend’s dismay, in recent days I’ve begun agitating against eggs. “I just don’t like ’em anymore,” I said one morning. I rifled through the fridge and retrieved a pink grapefruit, using a fingernail to send citrus spraying across the room.
Her blue eyes bugged, as if I were Christopher Columbus telling her that the world was not lasagna-flat. “What do you mean you don’t like eggs?” To her, the egg is edible perfection. She devours them poached, hard-boiled, soft-boiled and scrambled and served between a buttered English muffin.
“It’s a great protein,” she said, with the conviction of a bodybuilder preaching the power of human growth hormone.
“Look,” I told her, “I think of eggs the same way as I do tomatoes: aces as an ingredient, terrifying as a main event.” Want to see me squirm like a hooked worm? Serve me bruschetta.
“But you love making breakfast,” she said. That is certifiable. Ever since I was wee, I’ve enjoyed flipping Bisquick-powered pancakes and doctoring scrambled eggs with onions and garlic. I still savor a.m. cooking; I’ve just ceased to enjoy eating eggs. That’s OK. People change, tastes change: this is a good thing.
Though I relished attending raves at age 19, I shudder at the thought of me still wearing baggy pants, staying up till sunrise smoking menthol cigarettes, chomping candy necklaces and giving strangers pharmaceutically aided hugs.
In lieu of eggs, I began favoring smoothies made with yogurt and bananas bought for a song in Chinatown. (Around 8 p.m., hit the northwest corner of Grand and Eldridge streets, where $1 buys enough bruised, dented bananas to feed an orphanage. Peel and freeze the decaying fruit as soon as you get home, and it’s smoothie sailing.) My girlfriend adored the smoothies, but sometimes I’d catch her wistfully staring at an egg carton in the fridge as if it were an old lover. Come back, sweet yolks, come back.
But a few weeks back, my breakfast routine was broken by the beautiful news of M. Wells (21-17 49th Ave. at 21st St., Queens, 718-425-6917). Located in a vintage Long Island City diner, M. Wells is helmed by wife-hubby team Sarah Obraitis and hugue Dufour, a former toque at Montreal’s Au Pied de Cochon—paradise for fans of foie gras and pig. Currently, M. Wells is open 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays, hours that only appeal to early-risers and the pseudo-employed. Like me.
On a recent Friday morning, my alarm beeped at 6:15.
“Why are you getting up so early?” my girlfriend asked, her eyelids heavy with sleep.
“Julie”—who awakens pre-dawn to bike—“and I are going to Queens for breakfast.
“I thought you didn’t like eggs?” she said. her tone insinuated that perhaps I was a liar.
“This is different,” I told her. “This is M. Wells.” I gave her cheek a peck, pulled on my black skintight cycling shorts and pedaled to Queens for my Québécois fix.
When Julie and I arrived, we were sweat-slicked and beet-faced. Sensing our imminent heat stroke, an angelic waitress fluttered over and delivered a carafe of cooling water. I wanted to smooch her, but such behavior is unbecoming for a taken man.
Once our core temperatures sank several degrees, Julie and I surveyed the menu. It ran from greasy-spoon staples such as egg sandwiches, doughnuts and biscuits (all homemade!) to a.m. curiosities such as beef tartar and pickled pork tongue. “I want everything,” said Julie, who’s never met a meat or sweet she didn’t want to eat.
Restraint was exercised. Strong Oslo iced coffee was ordered, as were several courses that made me rethink my stance on chicken embryos.
The scrambled-egg sandwich rose above its hot-griddle roots, thanks to a fluffy, house-baked English muffin, fat slab of sage sausage, smoked cheddar and several slices of pickled jalapeños. (I tossed the tomato to the side.)
This sandwich was transcendent, the everyday made exemplary, as was the crispy hash with a plank of crunchy bacon. On top, a slow-poached egg sat like a tiara. I punctured it, releasing yolk like a runaway river across the potatoes and contrasting bites of peas and mint.
Even the yogurt was tangy bliss, swimming with granola and a smattering of bright, fresh berries that were most certainly not Chinatown-bought. This was the best breakfast grub I’d devoured in months, a guaranteed way to start any day with a contented stomach and a smile.
“That was goooooooood,” Julie said, spearing an errant pea. “What did you think?” “I think,” I said, running my finger through a yellow dab of yolk, “I love eggs again.”