CHEAP EATS "Did you hear about the barn swallows in Minnesota?" Earl Butter said, while we were waiting for our waffles.
"This reminds me," I replied. "This idea that there are more alive people now than dead ones — where did you get it?"
"Late Night," he said.
"Actually," he said, "I heard it somewhere else too. Why?"
"No reason," I said. "Fact-checking." I checked myself. "After-the-fact fact-checking."
"Well, about the barn swallows — ”
"What are your sources?" I said, before-the-fact fact-checking, for a change.
"I don't know," he said. "Some nature show."
Our waffles came. On paper plates with plastic forks and knives. They came with two eggs apiece, over-easied into neat little triangles, and meat. Sausage for me of course, and Spam for Earl. You can also get bacon, or some kind of veggie patty ($4.75).
There was butter already melting into the waffles, and, to my amazement and delight, and surprise, given the paper and plastic and overall fluorescent lighting of the little joint, the butter looked like butter. "Can I get more butter?" I asked the guy. Partly this was a fact-checking maneuver, and partly I wanted more butter. I knew I did, without tasting, because I always want more butter.
He smiled and went to get it for me. Sweet guy. Great place. New favorite restaurant. I already knew that, but maybe you want hard evidence.
"About the barn swallows," Earl Butter said, halfway done eating, and I hadn't even started.
On the radio: Forum, with Michael Krasny and a panel of tweedy-sounding indie rock "experts" boring the world to death with Noise Pop blah, blah, blah, making it, blah, blah, sincerity, blah, passion. Get off the radio and dance, dudes.
Guy comes back with a little paper bowl full of real butter, and I could of kissed him, speaking of rock ’n' roll. This was all I needed to know, and knowing it, little plastic knife in hand, I buttered and buttered my golden, crispy waffle, which was starting to get cold. Which is perfect because then the butter really sets there. Speaking of cold, hard facts. It doesn't disappear into the waffle. It globulates. Waits, looks back at you, existingly. Then, finally, melts into your tongue. Hot damn!
"Can I try a piece of your Spam?" I said.
He gave me a whole slice. It was pretty good, a lot better than I expected. Would you believe I'd never eaten Spam before? Well, I have now eaten Spam. It's pretty good.
The sausage was chicken apple sausage and this is my only bone to pick with the place. What's up with the fancy-pants sausage? The name of the joint is the Little Piglet Café, you got pork this and pig that all over the menu, little piggy visual touches all over the walls and all around the paper-hearts-in-the-shape-of-a-heart in the window in the door . . .
The big sign outside over the window, which drew me to the place in the first place, Ninth Street between Bryant and Harrison: Waffles, Soups, Boxed Lunches, Daily Specials, Hot & Cold, Little Piglet Café, real cute picture of a pig. I don't get it. What's up with the chicken sausage?
"Barn swallows," said Earl Butter.
It's still my new favorite restaurant. I mean, waffles, eggs, and meat for under five bucks, and with real butter, are you kidding me? Plus the coffee is coffeehouse quality, and there are enough other good-looking things on the menu to keep me coming back for weeks and weeks without even repeating myself: Cajun meatloaf sandwich, barbecued pork with "pig sambal" (whatever that might mean), roasted peppers and avocado salad with pineapple vinaigrette.
Is this a Hawaiian theme I'm picking up on?
"Home Depot," said Earl Butter.
There's a Spam can dispensing candy canes, and a picture of Jessica Simpson setting on a can of tuna fish.
"They figured out how to open the automatic doors and get inside," he said.
Little Piglet Café
Mon.–Fri., 8 a.m.–4 p.m.
451 Ninth St., SF