Sign of the Whale, Stamford, CT

Before the Bar (BTB) the Bedfellow and I really, really liked to go to late-afternoon brunch, early morning breakfast noshes, daylight bagels chewed after a few seconds under the broiler. Doesn’t matter. N’importe quoi. Breakfast, the cheap bastion of uniform awakening, is my preferred meal of choice. And all the better if there’s a little alcohol involved. Nowadays I wake up like a normal person, I grab whatever I had the night before. That’s not proper, that’s not where my heart lies. There’s no place in that palate-awakening moment for leftover sushi or a half-cold slice of pizza. 20160424_133025In those moments of need, I look back to my travels. We visited Sign of the Whale right after school ended, at the first break in the chilly April weather, and gorged to full distention. My kitchen may lack the glassware and surplus of popsicles to replicate it, it sends my mind, soaked with cortisol, to a strange and social resting place.20160424_123421When was the last time I had a breakfast shot that tasted like downing a mouthful of Aunt Jemima’s, hazy-mouthed and sweet, or dug into a seemingly endless bowl of lobster macaroni and cheese? These indulgences are spaced further, far enough between that my palate remembers what a pancake is but doesn’t long for it. The fond memory of sugar lies in a dark recess of my mind, waiting. Sign of the Whale is for those mornings when you creep out from the party before, but can’t bear for it to stop. The boisterous Sunday crowd rivals only the over-the-top dishes. Oreo pancakes made with Oreo cream, topped with cookie crumbs, firm, toppling stacks with a teenage doughiness that goes on forever. We acknowledged, comparing our MyFitnessPal counts, that these plates could not humanly be finished, nor could we reasonably account for our actions.20160424_123456Sign of the Whale is a cheat day wrapped in bacon. Sign of the Whale is billows of smoke and clouds settling across the table like we’re setting the stage for the death of our plates, attacking the far reaches of the table and compelling the people next to us to ask what we’re drinking. Goblets for two taste like candy at the bottom, masking the sheer volume of alcohol, and we fish our melted popsicle sticks from the bottom and read the jokes to each other. I can’t tell if we’re coming back to life or pushing ourselves further into another afternoon, belly-up.20160424_130303Highlights of the meal, understated, underadvertised brussels sprouts gently fried in duck fat and tossed with peppers and the yet-inexorable bacon, omnipresent like a benevolent, porky concept of god. Get two. Substitute them for the meek fries that most plates come with. Their flavor is rich and substantial, wholesome amidst the bacchanal. Ahi tuna tartare was easily divided between the tables, a perennial favorite though not typically enjoyed in the morning. Fresh vegetables and even fresher fish, dashed with a moderate, though tastefully applied splash of wasabi cream.20160424_132550Do not ignore the kale salad, though it may set you apart from your crowd as conservative. But you will need those leafy greens, your body will crave the salty tang of the grapefruit dressing, and you will find yourself far better off than going with the burger. Avocado, a pleasantly supremed grapefruit, sesame seeds, and a scattering of wonton chips lets the ingredients speak for themselves. 20160424_131119This trend is not limited to salad. Where the monolithic indulgence bleeds into itself over time, we found ourselves most revived with the more minimalist dishes. Steak and eggs was nourishing, the yolks cooked to an ideal medium, a self-basting sauce in lieu of plain hollandaise. We are getting back to basics.20160424_140953Brunch law is a never-ending cycle through the systems, where drinks lead to more drinks and plates lull you into a somnolence before you wake up for more. Any Buzzfeed auteur would relish the selection. I write from the gut and shoot from the hip. I eat another forkful of pancakes and loosen my belt a notch or three. The rooftop is the best place to digest and relax, though the party is even bigger from the skies. There’s another bar. There are more people. The cycle stays, deep in your belly and in the back of your throat. Order more pancakes. Spend Sunday watching the ocean from the roof, alone and surrounded by people.

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