Brealu Cafe - Portland, ME

One summer’s morn we Good Gentlemen endeavored to erect a den in which to consume copious illegal drugs. It was Tim Tam’s plan — he being the one who procured for us our intoxicants. In compensation for Tim Tam’s underwriting of our risk, the rest of us provided payment for both our future drug den’s raw materials and the various uppers, downers, hallucinogens and barbiturates to be enjoyed therein.

Hot Suppa! - Portland, ME

I met Nick at Hot Suppa! about eight months ago. I was completely new to Portland and the biting chill was in the process of being baked out by the high April sun.

Good morning, Portland.

I was perched at their stout bar, reading The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann. A guy about my age with wild brown hair – the kind that perpetually looks as if it just came from under a hat – sat down next to me. He situated himself and pulled out the same book I was reading. His version was older; its pages yellowed and corners creased with use. That was Nick.


He turned to me and we struck up a predictable conversation about the book. Soon, our conversation’s predictability vanished.


Our discourse flowed naturally and powerfully; dialogue went back and forth, building upon itself. Most conversations can feel as if both parties are carrying their separate points to their pre-conceived conclusions, as if the other party is simply a necessity to airing out opinions. My conversation with Nick, however, was an improvised duet. We played off of each other, coming to realizations on the fly, inspiring the other to think more deeply at each turn. It was the kind of conversation that, no matter how long it actually was, could never have been long enough. He impressed me quite thoroughly.


At the end of our meal– I had the waffles with Maine maple syrup, he the benedict – we exchanged numbers and made plans to meet up again. 

Nick, I found during our second meal at Hot Suppa!, was both a published author and semi-professional speed climber. He only told me after I asked him what he did as we waited for a booth to open up.  The word bragging would be about the exact opposite of how he described his daily activities; he tried, in fact, to downplay them, which of course ended up impressing me more.


Once again, our meal and conversation were superb.


At home that night I looked up videos of speed climbing online. Nicke assured me that he was well below championship level. I searched him out nonetheless. After scrolling through a couple pages of results, I found a poorly-captured video featuring Nick on one side in red and a young man in blue on the other. Both were hooked up to minimal harnesses and faced a sheer, blue climbing wall.


At the sound of the gun, both young men shot up the wall, climbing as if the surface were horizontal, rather than vertical. The video was named “NCAA Speed Climbing Men’s Semi-Final 2006”. Nick lost. I could tell which contender he was without any trouble: his hair hadn’t changed.  But his immense skill was evident.


And though he lost, his mastery of climbing was dumbfounding. I’m athletic enough, but nowhere near competition-level in any sport. That sort of skill, where one is talented enough to rival every other driven young person in America, is unattainably difficult. It requires not only innate ability but an almost absolute dedication. Nick had impressed me again.

My feelings can be summed up here.

The next week, we met on a Thursday morning at Hot Suppa! and he brought his girlfriend along.  She was a petit woman, named Erica, with brown hair and luxuriously large green eyes: pleasant, smart, beautiful. She had actually just been hired off of an internship at an in-demand interior design firm. Not that Nick needed the money, his writing supported him well enough.


Again, our meal went by too fast and Nick continued to cement his status as someone truly to be admired. He was so put-together, self-assured and confident with the physical and mental substance back it up. I had never met a person so superior to me in every single way.


I thought about it quite a bit. How superior he was to me in so many ways. Nearly the perfect person – at least as far as my estimation went.


Another couple weeks passed after that meal without us seeing each other. Nick and I had both gotten busy: he, writing an article for an outdoors magazine and me with work.


One steamy, mid-spring night in the Old Port, I was out with my girlfriend, Katie. She was ready to go – she had an early start planned the next day – I was not. She left me among the tourists, trying not to stumble on the frost-heaved cobblestones. I wandered into some dive or other, I can’t remember the name but it had low lights, pool and darts. Ordering a drink from the packed bar, I heard my name. The voice was excited, slurred.


It was Nick.


He was visibly drunk. The collar of his shirt was turned up at one side. He motioned to the open seat next to him. I made my way through the crowd and sat down. I was a bit drunk myself, so his drunkenness seemed another feather in his cap from my perspective: a guy who has everything so much together that he even has time to go out and let loose.


We talked for a bit, though not about much since the noise of the place precluded any meaningful conversation. It was more an intoxicated exchange of admiration, talking about how excellent our chats had been.


Then a girl appeared behind Nick and reached over him to a half-empty cocktail on the bar. She put her arm around Nick’s shoulder and he leaned back and kissed her neck.


She was a brunette, tall and voluptuous. Her make-up was a bit smeared, though it made her look perhaps even more licentious than had it been perfectly situated. Nick didn’t introduce her so she introduced herself. Her name was Hannah and, by her voice, had drank equally as much as Nick.


Looking at Nick’s collar, I now noticed her red lipstick was there. Maybe he’d broken up with Erica? But in the time we talked after Hannah showed up, there was no mention of anything concerning Erica. No explanation from Nick as to this change in women. It was almost as if he was acting completely serene to test what kind of a friend I was. Would I ask about Erica and destroy their mood? Would I simply judge him without knowing the details? Or would I let it slide and assume that whatever he was doing was probably appropriate?


I chose the last option. I chatted as best I could until my drink was gone and announced that it was time to head home. Despite their protestations I nodded my way out. It was only three days before I ate with Nick again.

It took until three quarters of the way through our meal before I found an opening to ask about Erica.

I am the Alpha and the Omega. 

“She’s good,” Nick said. “She just got a big assignment designing a new rec-room for some young couple up in Falmouth.” I nodded, allowing him to go on. “So, she’s been busy.”


Nothing more than that. We had already acknowledged that it was fun to see each other out and I hadn’t had the audacity to ask about Hannah. The majority of my hesitation came from a reticence to delve too deeply into Nick’s personal affairs. It seemed that our friendship had started off so perfectly that any outside factors could only serve to sully the clean and well-defined picture I had of him. He was a perfect person. I didn’t want to believe he was any less than that.


I tried to bury my disappointment over Nick’s complete lack of remorse concerning Hannah. I didn’t succeed. But still, we continued to meet and talk.

About three weeks later, Nick brought Erica again. When we all had been seated, I couldn’t find an inkling of unrest. Not within Nick, nor between him and Erica. This could have meant two things: either they’d made up completely for Nick’s transgressions or Erica was completely oblivious. As the meal went on, there was no doubting that she didn’t know.


That realization sparked in me an electric tension. The sort of tension that increases with prolonged inaction; like when a teenage me was dared to go ask a girl out. It was the the type of dread that made the task impossible to complete, yet more excruciating not to the longer you waited.


As we ate each extended pause felt like a challenge. Nick’s gaze intensified as if daring me to bring up Hannah or somehow hint at her. But I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t bring it up because I genuinely liked Nick and wanted to think the best of him. But I am also a coward when it comes to confrontation. So I kept silent on the matter through until we said our goodbyes. I vowed to bring her up at our next meal alone.


I never did.


Two weeks later Nick told me that he and Erica had broken up. That completed the talk of girls. The matter was dropped for good and all, no resolution. But, unfortunately, that’s the way so many relationship-centric matters tend to end. Both parties unfulfilled, nobody happy.


The very next day, at the dentist, I was flipping through Down East Magazine. Its feature article was called “Depths of Flavor,” about a struggling fisherman who’d found a flourishing new market in deep-sea fish. It was by Nick.


After reading it three times, to make sure I wasn’t missing something, I realized that it was simply an adequate article. It felt like just another let-down, concerning Nick. Given our conversations, the article seemed well below his level of thought and humor. Not that it was a terrible piece of writing. It just wasn't what I would have considered worthy of him.


Nick and I didn’t talk for nearly five months. And this, coming after we had not gone an entire week without some sort of friendly meet-up, was a surprise. But so it goes.


In that time I thought about him a little. Mostly about how impressive he’d seemed in the beginning and how he’d eventually let me down. Though he hadn’t let me down, I realized, not really. He’d merely gone from the realm of the extraordinary into the mildly-above-ordinary. He still was a fantastically talented athlete. He still wrote professionally. He just wasn’t the “overman” I’d convinced myself he was. It was more my own fault for expecting to find someone who was perfect. My own selfish hope that there was an ideal person living an ideal life out there. That perfection – as a quality – was attainable. But of course, perfection is only really reserved for the imagination, and only poor ones at that.


It was getting to be the end of shorts weather when I reached out to Nick again. I texted him, suggesting we grab some food that weekend. He responded quickly and with enthusiasm, even throwing out a couple times that worked for him.

The topography of deliciousness.

Being back at Hot Suppa! with Nick was excellent. We talked and laughed and it was like next to no time had passed between our last meeting. The meal flew by. After shaking hands and waving our goodbyes, I left smiling.


Sure, I’d wished that Nick was perfect. I’d wished it for him – because I liked him – and I’d wished it selfishly because I wanted to believe that I could be perfect too. But he wasn’t and neither was I.


Nick may be a little loose and inconsiderate with women. He might not be as groundbreaking a writer as I had, naively, expected. And I could revile him for those traits. I could build a boiling dislike for him and never speak with him again. But what good would that do? He wouldn’t change as a person. I wouldn’t have a chance to possibly help him improve (and he, me). And I would be deprived of a great conversation partner and friend. The world would continue as it was, with two people less happy than they could have been.


In the end, we build the strongest connections around what we have in common and imperfection is the only universal trait.




4.4 Stars

I have visited Hot Suppa! vastly more times than any other brunch spot in Portland. They simply understand eggs better than basically every other brunch I’ve ever been to (their omelet is straight out of France). In overall food, they’re close to equal with Caiola’s brunch, but at a lower price point. It’s both excellent and consistent.


Reasonably Reasonable

Every item on the menu “proper” is well priced. In fact, the Waffle (which comes with breakfast meat, two eggs, and a sliver of grapefruit) is a damn steal. Their only downfall is that their specials tend to be both too little (in terms of portion sizes) and too much (in terms of price).


Boutique Art Show

Its intimate booths and art-smattered walls make for great conversation and a cozy atmosphere. However, it’s slight size means wait times can hit the hour mark any day of the week. And with its popularity ever rising, wait times may well rise commensurate. Go early. Go late. But be aware that it’s worth the wait.


Busy Bee

Overall, great service. Coffee stays full 95% of the time. Peak hours tend to be when it gets the diciest.



I tend to be critical of Hot Suppa! because I love it so much. Like a father to a child, I want to see it improve for its own sake. Meaning, I tend to internally gripe about stuff like the sometimes so-so service, long waits and underwhelming specials. That all being said, in Portland, there is no more consistently fantastic brunch than Hot Suppa!

Toast - Ferndale, MI


Two young men are fighting to the death. One is from one place and the other is from another place. These two young men have decided its OK to kill each other because that’s the whole point of why they’re where they are. Currently, they’re both doing their best not to be the one who gets killed.


About these two men locked in mortal struggle: one man is named Paul Johnson and the other is named Feda Noorzai. Paul, oddly enough, is thinking about how all he really wants is the banana coffee at Toast, a diner in his hometown of Ferndale, Michigan. Sure it’s a weird thing to think about when trying to kill another man, but it popped into his mind and that’s that. He’s thinking about how a sip of that coffee, maybe with a mountainous plate of chocolate chip pancakes, would be just about his version of heaven. He’s thinking how much he’s going to miss that if he dies (among many other things) and so he’s trying to kill Feda. Feda, though, is pretty much trying to do the opposite. In a more typical turn, Feda is thinking about his son and wife. Feda is trying to kill Paul because he wants to protect his family from things like military occupation and drone strikes. Above all, though, he hopes that if he dies his wife and son will actually get the stipend they were promised by the militia and won’t have to wait too long for it as other militiamen’s widows have had to.


Image ℅ Metro Alive


So, when you zoom into the scenario, with the two dudes thinking about stuff as they try to kill the other, it all gets pretty specific and sad. So let’s zoom out.


The reason why these two guys are even allowed to kill each other – without having to worry about getting charged for murder and all – are the people in charge back home that want things to stay the same. And while everyone (big “E” Everyone) back home may be kinda split on whether anyone should be getting out there and killing other people, ultimately it’s the decision of the people who decided, long before, that they want to convince everyone that they’re the right people to make decisions like that.


That’s all a bit confusing though. So, let’s boil it down.


It’s really about Toast Diner.

Image ℅ Google Street view or something creepy


See, Paul thinks that more people should be able to live the way he’s lived, including stuff like being able to get a group of guys and girls together, maybe smoke a joint, and go to a diner like Toast. Feda, however, has a different view and thinks that people should live the way he’s lived. And, in Feda’s way of doing things, Paul might be able to go to Toast but he def couldn’t go there with girls or eat certain things or smoke weed because Feda’s God says that’s a no-no. Paul believes in God too but it’s a different one with different rules that are a little more lenient on the whole girls and eating scenarios (the rules are kinda fuzzy on drugs). So both these men believe that their particular way of doing things is, ultimately, better. Enough so that they’re willing to kill each other for it.


In reality though, the people who’re really responsible for Paul and Feda being where they are, are the people who make the rules on what’s the right way to do stuff. So, those people who can currently tell people what to do want to keep things going the same way they’ve been going, so they’re sending a bunch of people to kill other people in the hopes that they win and get more people to do stuff the way they want them to do it.


Image ℅ Metro Alive


The tricky part though is that those higher-up people on both sides figured out that sending other people to go kill and die is easier than going out and killing and dying  themselves. It would probably have changed their decision-making process if, when they wanted to go out and kill some other people, they actually had to go out and do it too. It would certainly help to show that they wanted things to stay the same for everyone back home and not just for them.


So the honchos back home on both sides said to their respective home-people, “These other people want us to do things their way so let’s kill them until they agree that our way of doing things is better,” but what they meant was “we need a lot of young people to go out and do the mind-changing/killing. They’re the ones who need to prove that our way of doing stuff is better.”


And the great part is that what you want to do depends on where you are. Feda, because he grew up around people who wore what he wears and worshipped who he worships, naturally wants to keep doing those things. The same way that Paul grew up eating at Toast and wearing jeans and so knows that the way he dresses and does things is better. Though of course if you had switched the two guys at birth, Feda would probably be in Paul‘s same shoes and Paul in Feda’s.


Image ℅ Metro Alive


These two young men believe what they believe because other people they grew up around believed it too – people like their parents and family. Except that means, from Paul’s perspective, Feda is wrong and vice versa. Luckily, they’re both right! Since both their (kinda) different Gods say they’re right. They just have to kill the other person to make them agree.


But here’s the difficulty of the situation: one way of doing things may be better. In fact, I can hear you saying now, “we know our way is better.” But that’s where you ask yourself, “Hey, me. If some other group of people right now with an actually better way of doing things tried to force their better way of doing things on me, would I be OK with changing?”


And even if that way of doing things you were trying to convert people to was simply, say, freedom. Wouldn’t forcing your version of freedom onto other people essentially be a violation of those other people’s freedom?


But back to Toast.


Paul likes eating pancakes at Toast just as much as Feda likes his mother’s homemade Korma Pulao. So now they have to try to kill each other, rather than enjoying their respective meals, because both heard from other people that the other guy wanted to stop him from enjoying what he’d become accustomed to enjoying. Whether that's the exact situation is kinda fuzzy and harder to parse.


See, the point isn’t who ends up ending the other person’s life. The point isn’t even that it’s not so good that two guys have ended up in this situation. The point is something amorphous and gray and difficult to entirely pin down. It’s somewhere between Paul’s love of Toast’s delicious cuisine and Feda’s love of comforting, home cooked Afghani meals.


Only when you draw your own conclusion can you really be certain what it is.




3.8 Stars

Don’t get me wrong. Toast is damn delicious. However, there are quite a few leaps they make in their fare that don’t hit the mark squarely. Order what you think sounds good. If something sounds a little “out there” it probably is.


A leetle more

More expensive than other, equal-if-not-better breakfast establishments in the area. But not by any significant amount.



Newly renovated, always cozy. Toast (Ferndale) doesn’t have a bad seat in the house. However, the house is often packed. Luckily you can chill in the back with a coffee.


Workin’ women

At least when I dined it was all women. Sure, they may act a little beleaguered at times, but that’s what people do. Treat ‘em right, they’ll treat you right.



It’s not my top spot in Ferndale (which, I concede, is obscenely rich in diner fare). But it can hang with the best anywhere.

The Art Cliff Diner - Vineyard Haven, MA

 June 1, 1883

My Dearest Denise,

It’s perfect, by fuddy! I’ve procured a dining cart off of an old coot and his noisome hound.  Soon, I plan on moving the cozy nook to a convenient lot by the Edgartown docks. By gum and spittlewhippets what a fine affair! I plan on calling it Captain Brown’s. Don’t you think that droll? I trust you will keep the photograph I’ve included in a dear place despite the fact that my eyes do appear cross’d.

All my love,



June 4, 1883

My Dearest Denise,

I’ve transported the dining car to its lot by the docks and jim-junipers is it fine. Of course, there was one small nugget of a detail I couldn’t have foreseen. Nothing to worry about of course, but something I will have to deal with before the patrons start flooding our welcoming doors: an elephant. He’s quite small at the moment, but something has to be done about him. I found him in the back room, sitting and not causing any trouble. Of course I’ll have it sorted before the grand opening, tomorrow. I trust the chickdaws have quieted for the spring and allowed you some, if any, slumber.

All my love,



"A plafe what woos ye palette of men and weomen bothe." - Elmer Horseman, The New Tisbury Old Tymes

Picture c/o Hungry Native

June 7, 1883

My Dearest Denise

Boy-dippy, what a fine yester. Patrons came from all over the island. A rousing success for a burgeoning eatery. What a feeling! To satiate your fellow man and have them shake your hand and give you their hard-earned cash in thanks for the sup! Willickers and baldergrump I feel fine! Not concerned at all am I that this pachyderm issue hasn’t been sorted just yet. Oh indeed, I’m a bit cross that I couldn’t shoo the little beast successfully (what a stubborn one, just lazing in the corner). I resorted, in a fit of panic, to throwing a table cloth over him and sticking a “Reservée” sign on top. Can’t have people eating off the back of a wild grey-snooter! It’s a problem that will have to wait until I’ve a full sleep upon which to contemplate it! Then I know I’ll sort it with a clear head and open eye. Fig-and-nut-butters that I will! Hope you are well.

All my love,



July 15, 1883

My Dearest Denise,

My very own Captain Brown’s was recently written up in the Vineyard Gazette! Here I note a particularly poignant passage: “How indeed our strain-ed belly’s yearn for another wrestle with the thick vittles apportioned by Messier Brown.” Vack-wattle, a rousing review! Of the celestial nomenclature with which they rate, Captain Brown’s was given a hearty four and one half of five. Though, somewhat distressing, is the half-star that went un-awarded. This they chalked up to, and I quote, “… some unknown quality in the environs of the cafeteria which burdened us [the reviewer and his charge] with undue pause. In reverence to decorum, this humble reviewer will spare you the particulars of the matter. Suffice it to say: there is an undeniably large, be-trunk’d obstacle, haranguing a space that we found otherwise to be, in a word, outstanding.” That elephant! It must be dealt with! I hope your feet are less swollen this week.

All my love,



July 18, 1883

My Dearest Denise,

He’s not budging. And he has grown too massive for one simple cloth to cover. I’m talking about this elephant of course. Though, as you suggested, I’ve tried every manner of ruse to drive him from the place. Like clockwork, I shoo him from the cart; I beat him about the head and neck with a long-handle broom. Surely he trumpets and expresses his blowsy discontent, but out he goes. Then, upon my return, there he looms, snooting and flapping his ears withal! Shippy, our negro cook, resigned himself to the elephant’s presence, leaving the situation entirely up to me. Most disappointing behavior from such an, otherwise, stalwart partner. A solution must be found! A solution will be found! I hope the rhododendrons you spoke of survived the recent plague of stink-bugs.

All my love,



"On the melding of cornèd-meat and potahto -- its moniker being "Hash" -- a single taste did elicit a tightness in my breeches." - P.F. Shemp, The Edgartown Soapbox 

Picture C/O Cooking With Books

July 22, 1883

My Dearest Denise,

Hum-boge! The past fortnight has been upsetting.  Though I have done all in my power to shew this silent monstrosity the outside of our establishment, he does not budge.  Indeed, in a further downward turn, a child unraveled my most recent ruse; the little rug-sniffer pulled the flowers we had adhered to the elephant’s feet (in imitation of a grand flower arrangement) at the height of morning-rush. Thus was the non-literal buzzard of my worry revealed for good and all. Though naught can be done about it now! Stack-piggle and hooch! Surely, the only answer is to humanely end the animal’s life as you have suggested from the beginning. I realize now the truth of your steely wisdom. Upon that, I will call the authorities in the morning. I trust the symptoms of your rheumy nostril have been cured by the chemist’s potions.

All my love,



 August 27, 1883

My Dearest Denise,

The crowds continue to grow! It seems our repast has piqued the interest of those from as far as Gay Head: the opposite side of the isle! Unfortunately, as the clientele grows, indeed so does the bane of our location: the elephant! Attempts at his life were thwarted at every turn. After the authorities came and went (carrying a large, clothed cadaver), assuring me the animal had been assisted, gently, in his ascent to heaven, I returned inside to find him snuffling merrily about the kitchen. Indeed I took a knife myself and slashed the beast until his pulse was no more! By fuddly, I chopped his massive limbs to pieces, laboriously transported them to the sea by skiff, at which time I dumped them into the brine and saw to it that marine-life did indeed feast upon his depart’d flesh! I thought – upon my blood! – that mother nature would brook no more skullduggery by that fleshy brute. But on my return to the diner, there he sat! Silent and peaceful, bashfully batting his long lashes at me. Oh how he galls me! But! BUT! His presence seems not to deter our many diners from their gormandizing of our vittles. A conundrum, indeed! I am sorry that the moist air has not helped your grippe.

All my love,



December 18, 1883

My Dearest Denise,

The elephant cannot be moved. As Captain Brown’s grows in popularity, so does he! And as he does, my despondence grows commensurate. Surely, an ulcer is brewing within my nethers. I am sorry, I can write no more until he is gone. And I fear that he can only be truly gone when Brown’s Diner is gone as well. Wish me luck. No, do not wish me luck; wish me courage.

All my love,


"'The Bayou Bundle,' proves that what these Americans lack in (natural) sexual freedom, they compensate for in their quaint cuisine." - Jacques Louis-Cromes, The Menemsha Erudite

Picture C/O Cooking With Books

December 20, 1883

My Dearest Denise,

I almost burnt it to the ground. Punting cricklesticks, the shame! There I crouched in the dark of night, cap pulled low over my eyes like a lackaday crook, nearly setting flint and tinder to the source of my life and livelihood! Surely, if my beloved Captain Brown’s were reduced to ashes, I surmised, so would be the elephant inside! Without a Brown’s to occupy, would he not go back to the demonic jungle of his nascence? Against the dark of my heart the flame flickered. Yet as a match to strong wind, so my wherewithal did flag. In the end I allowed the flame in my hand to extinguish itself and chucked the vile tinder into the gorse. My love for my diner trumped my hatred of the beast. Perhaps, I, like Shippy, will learn to ignore this elephant (maybe even care for him?). Anguish of this kind can only be dissolved by the inexorable therapy of time. I appreciate your concern.

All my love,



June 6, 1884

My Dearest Denise,

Two years and hum-dogle what success! I’ll be the first one to say, the fact that this elephant now occupies one third of our space has ceased to alarm me. The patrons, though the new ones certainly comment, seem not to be deterred by him. He sits lazily in the corner, sometimes nosing around the salt shakers of the tables nearest him, but often satiated and quiet, his eyes scanning the assembled masses in paternal approval. He is a necessary evil, like the chill of rain or the itch of the thistle. Without him, my little Captain Brown’s would be… well, not Captain Brown’s. We are an establishment dedicated to the enjoyment of foodstuffs and potent brew. We are not attempting to cater to everyone all of the time. Those who dislike humongous, exotic creatures may not be enticed by what we have on offer. But certainly, those who do not mind a certain, unavoidable, grey inconvenience will find their repast no less satisfying! Surely, Denise, it might even become a badge of honor for my beloved diner. Captain Brown’s: home to world-class treats, thick camaraderie, and an unthinkably cumbrous house-pet. Indeed, it’s a possibility, only time may tell. But, if it’s any indication, we have done naught but fine business these first two years. I hope the heat wave we’ve been experiencing has not disrupted your vapors.

All my love,



"A treat this fine is scarce below the heavens and therefore is an affront to G-d." - Samuel Boothbutton, The Gay-Head Goode-Christian Snooper

Picture C/O Serious Eats


June 6, 1943

My Dearest Denise,

Sixty years ago today, as a young man, I opened Captain Brown’s. Now I am old and the wind stirs nothing as it passes over my head. Indeed, looking back upon it, I’d dare say that Brown’s started as a part of my life and ended as my life entire. And, as it so happened, so did the elephant within its walls. Never changing, never aging, only a mild inconvenience from start to end. Oddly enough, I find his consistency to be one of the only comforts afforded me in this terrifying new century. In happier news, I’ve found two young men who seek to appropriate my shop and take it from its longstanding spot by the harbor. Indeed the messieurs Art and Cliff plan to move it up near Tisbury to a fine lot on Beach Road. Though I am sad, I know that eventually we must pass everything along, especially that which is most dear to us. For if not – if we hold on too tight – it would be lost forever. Though oddly enough, they bought my little dining cart on spec, taking a look at the outside and deeming it fit. By squittly, I think it’s something more than coincidence that they too will have the surprise of finding the elephant inside. I hope they find it in themselves to treat the little snooter well. Alas, they are young and bold and are bound to find their haste and ambition leading, often, to folly. I will not begrudge them that. But I will implore them, above all, to preserve one tenet I found always to keep Captain Brown’s on even tack:  No inconvenience can negate a well-prepared meal.

All my love,





4.6 Stars

Art Cliff opened in 1943 and changed owners in 2000. What has not changed is the quality of fare; If anything, it’s been raised to obscenely toothsome levels.


Split the check

The price fits the fare. Plus, the portions allow for hearty leftovers.



Simply one room with tables and a bar. Herein lies the rub of Art Cliff: it’s small. Whereas the demand for Art Cliff? Quite large. Unless you show up before the cock’s crow, or on some deadly off-season day, you will find Art Cliff packed to the veritable gills. Wait-times during the summer are consistently at the ~1 hour mark. But rest assured, it is worth it. Oh dear is it.



These waitresses know how to turn a table without making you feel rushed. A fine balancing act to be sure.



On Martha’s Vineyard (and dare I say in the greater New England area), Art Cliff looms large.




Marcy's Diner - Portland, ME

Man A: Are you ready to go?

Man B: If you’ll lend us an ear.

Man 2: As we review Marcy’s.

Man 3: …

Man 2: Um, Man 3 isn’t here. 

Man A: Hmm, the timing is right.

Man B: Wednesday morn on the dot.

Man 2: I’m really sorry guys, but here he is not.

Man 3: …

Man A: Man 2 that was your duty!

Man B: Your call and your charge!

Man 2: I really am sorry, I feel like an ass that’s quite large.

Man 3: …

Man A: Well this is a boot in the jeans.

Man B: A tap to the jewels.

Man 2: Where the hell could he be?

Man 3: Yo, what up fools!

Man A: Finally, good goodness.

Man B: You’ve decided to show.

Man 2: What took you so long?

Man 3: Um, some stuff... Look, let’s go.

They gawt a sense a hume-a!

Picture C/O Tripadvisor

A-5, 6, 7, 8!

Man A: Well haven’t you heard?

Man B: Rave reviews did you see?

Man 2: For a diner in Portland by the name of?

Man 3: Man 3?

Man A: Already, you cooked it.

Man B: Straight into the pot!

Man 2: Dude, we’re rhyming about Marcy’s.

Man 3: That’s not what I thought.

Man A: We absolutely are.

Man B: Marcy’s Diner you know?

Man 2: Open for breakfast + brunch,

Man 3: I don’t know that place, yo.

Man A: What the hell, man?

Man B: Seriously, what the hay?

Man 2: We’re only here to review it.

Man 3: Well why didn’t you say?

Man A: It was on the invite.

Man B: yeah seriously Man 3.

Man 2: Ohhhh, I forgot to give it to him.

Man 3: Haha! Boom!… See?!

Man A: Well we’re doing it now.

Man B: This is taking too long.

Man 2: Alright, we’re reviewing Marcy’s Diner.

Man 3: Yo check out this song.

Man A: Jesus in God’s heaven!

Man B: Poo out a brick!

Man 2: I vouched for you Man 3.

Man 3: What? Why are you being a dick?

Man A: Hey! No more profanity!

Man B: We’re here for Marcy’s, see?

Man 2: Didn’t you eat there yesterday?

Man 3: Is it right on Oak St. and Free?

Man A: That corner precisely.

Man B: Green front, hard to miss.

Man 2: It’s the one with the flag.

Man 3: Wait. Crap. Looks like this? 

Man A: So, have you been then?

Man B: Yeah, you really did go?

Man 2: He was most likely baked.

Man 3: hahahahahahahaha right? Y’know?

Man A: Cease this talk about drugs!

Man B: We’re child-friendly: PG.

Man 2: Oh right, Man 3, play along.

Man 3: That’s one lame-ass strategy.

Man A: Well, gentlefolks love it.

Man B: “peeps” all kinds, you know.

Man 2: We’re doing this mainstream.

Man 3: Shi... I mean, fu.. Whatever, let’s go.

Man A: …OK, so we’re ready?

Man B: Seriously, all set?

Man 2: I know that I am.

Man 3: Yeah, sure. You bet!

Man A: Alright, Marcy’s is fine.

Man B: For breakfast in a pinch.

Man 2: Hash browns that are solid.

Man 3: Though cash only’s a bitch.

Man A: Hey! Though that is quite true.

Man B: And no ATM nearby.

Man 2: Means it’s less than convenient.

Man 3: Like c’mon Marcy’s, try.

Man A: The Hobo Hash is indicative.

Man B: Of the whole place.

Man 2: Home fries, chili, cheese, eggs

Man 3: Straight to the face.

No, that’s not my finger in the side of the picture! IGNORE IT!

Man A: The proportion’s humongous.

Man B: Made with love not finesse.

Man 2: And the end result, while tasty.

Man 3: Is kind of a mess.

Man A: Flavors sink into flavors 

Man B: Meld to form a gut bomb

Man 2: Enough food for a family.

Man 3: Even ur mom.

Man A: ...The best part’s the muffins

Man B: Heated straight off the grill.

Man 2: Though the coffee is standard

Man 3: ...I shouldn’t have taken that pill.

Man A: Seriously? What did he say?

Man B: We were doing so well…

Man 2: Man 3 what’s the deal?

Man 3: What if our skin was a shell?

Man A: Please tell me this isn’t happening.

Man B: Seriously, what did he take?

Man 2: I dunno he’s f-ing out-there

Man 3: Hee! That’s no hat for a snake!

Man A: So he’s tripping now, right?

Man B: Look, he’s crawling around.

Man 2: He’ll be fine in a minute…

Man 3: Sergeant Hissy just frowned.

Man A: Can we do this without him?

Man B: Yeah it’s pretty simple to do.

Man 2: Ummm. *Looks over at Man 3*

Man 3: A plus B equals… moo!

Hello, old friend.

Picture C/O Jemura42

Man A: Forget it, let’s try.

Man B: Yeah we were talking about coffee.

Man 2: So should we move to the service?

Man 3: Yebdo qhi ni Pon Mofee.

Man A: Oh now he’s talking in tongues!

Man B: This is really distracting...

Man 2: I knew I shouldn’t have invited him! 

Man 3: Haha, boom bitches! Acting!

Man A: Wait, you were fine all along?

Man B: You son of a bitch!

Man 2: Jesus dude, I was worried.

Man 3: Chill out y’all, what’s the sitch?

Man A: The “sitch” is you’ve sunk us .

Man B: An abject disaster.

Man 2: Yeah man, I doubt anyone’s still reading.

Man 3: Whatever, you’re lame and I’m plastered.

Man A: Plastered or not... 

Man B: Let’s just finish this thing.

Man 2: *whispering* actually it was pretty funny.

Man 3: *whispering back* Man A’s eyes were all *p-ting!*

Man A: Alright, Marcy’s: their service.

Man B: Been fast and courteous to me.

Man 2: Though the owner has a slight ‘tude.

Man 3: Hey, courtesy ain’t free.

Man A: Her personality is strong, I’ll concede.

Man B: But the food is the point.

Man 2: It’s fine enough for a diner.

Man 3: After a big fatty j… appoint… ment.

Killer selection of SOUCE, though.

Man A: I’ve had the corned beef hash.

Man B: The litmus test of a diner.

Man 2: Yeah we both had that too.

Man 3: And I have had finer.

Man A: That’s precisely the key.

Man B: It seems no matter what you get.

Man 2: It’s stick to your ribs tasty.

Man 3: But it’s never the best bet.

Man A: Yes, indeed it is good.

Man B: But for the rave reviews we've heard.

Man 2: After Caiola’s and Hot Suppa,

Man 3: this ain’t even third.

Man A: Indeed an adequate summation.

Man B: It’s the truth there’s no doubt.

Man 2: The best brunch in Portland?

Man 3: This is not, yo. Peace OUT.


3.0 Stars

The type of meal where the first bite is great, and the last one is a labor.



Nothing to break the bank. You’ll get more than stuffed for $14. Or just take it easy and you can skate out for under $10.



Lots of kitsch and “Kiss the cook... OR ELSE” type fridge stickers. Def cozy tho.



Again, like at home, they’re warm and know your name, but they won’t hesitate to give you some good-natured guff.



Sure, there’s a lot that Marcy’s does really right. It’s just that in Portland, the brunch options abound. For minimally more, and in some cases less money, you can find a brunch that’s about 4x better.