(Edit 02/02/2014: I believe this venerable institution has closed after nearly four decades in downtown Saratoga. Just dropped by Little Amsterdam for breakfast and found an empty shell. If I'm wrong, or if they've just moved, please tell me in the comments below.)
Traditions are built when the repetition of a specific acts take on meanings larger than the acts themselves. Each family has ones that are unique to that family. For my father and I, a breakfast of eggs scrambled with Thai basil before a big test or event became a tradition, a little something special that my dad did just for me. For my family, celebrating victories or achievements over noodles, usually pho, was another tradition. Now that my siblings and I have all moved away from home, a morning walk and breakfast are fast shaping up to be a new tradition for us when we're back in town.
(I miss the crisp mountain air.)
Our walks tend to be long, meandering through the side streets by our parents' house and taking us past childhood landmarks. As we stroll through the quiet streets early in the morning, we catch up with what's going on in each other's lives. While my little brother, little sister, and I are all very close, we're also quite independent. So, although we stay in touch, we rarely feel the need to call each other up and talk about our lives. These walks are how we reconnect with one another and share family news.
(It's not big, but it's home.)
We inevitably head towards downtown Saratoga, which is a small, cozy area known in Silicon Valley for its fine dining. It's another childhood landmark that I always want to revisit.
("Main Street" Saratoga)
Big Basin Way is the heart of downtown Saratoga, where most of the shops and restaurants are located. When I was in high school, I worked at Marjolaine French Pastries. It was practically my second home and located right down this street. After Margaret and Joe sold it, it was eventually replaced by a Tapioca Express. I still visit the old storefront every time I'm there. Lots of good memories.
(Good grease here.)
Our usual destination is the only restaurant on Big Basin Way where you can get a casual, sit-down breakfast. Cute and kitsch, Little Amsterdam is a classic American diner brazenly offering simple, tasty fare on a street dominated by haute cuisine. I've tried every restaurant in Saratoga. This is my favorite spot to grab a bite.
(Can you spot the gnome?)
The decor is singing milkmaids meets the Sound of Music, with a nice bit of traditional greasy spoon mixed in. Service can be a little brusque if you're not a regular, but the waitresses are efficient and get the job done.
(Straight, with cream and two sugars. Manly.)
Of course, it wouldn't be a diner without the bottomless cup of coffee. The java at Little Amsterdam is actually pretty good. Then again, if it's early in the morning I could be drinking caffeinated motor oil and I wouldn't know the difference.
(Mmmm... Heart attack tastes good.)
This particular visit only included my brother, Terragnome, and I. My sister was still sleeping off a late night outing with friends. Terragnome and I both ordered our usual, the Regular Breakfast, which comes with two eggs made to order, hash browns, toast, and a choice of ham, bacon, sausage, or hamburger. Since we were feeling particularly kosher that morning, we got one breakfast with bacon and one with sausage so that we could share the meats. What you see up there is my plate, with eggs over easy, two pieces of buttered rye toast, hash browns, two strips of bacon, and two sausage links.
The eggs were perfectly done, with thick, runny yolks inside. The bacon was nice and crunchy, without any fat. The sausage links were plump and juicy and the hash browns were crunchy on the outside, but soft and mealy on the inside. I like to eat this plate by making little fried egg and bacon sandwiches. The sausage I enjoy by itself, and the hash browns just need a little ketchup and Tabasco to make them delectable. My idea of a good time.
(Mattresses should be this fluffy.)
We also decided to split a Short Stack of pancakes. It was absolutely the right decision, although we had to roll each other home afterwards. Each order comes with two huuuuge pancakes that are so light and airy, you need to pin them to the plate with your fork to keep them from floating away.
All those little pockets are perfect for soaking up butter and maple syrup. Each piece is a little bite of heaven. A sweet ending to our morning.
Well, that's what it felt like until the walk back, which was a lot more painful.
Little Amsterdam - For hearty breakfasts or burgers at good prices. Bring cash, since they don't take cards or checks. If you're not in particularly good shape, you'll definitely want to drive there. You might even want to consider a wheelbarrow to get you from the restaurant back to your car.
Bill (for two):
Regular Breakfast w/Bacon - 8.95
Regular Breakfast w/sausage - 8.95
Short Stack - 3.75 (I think. Receipt got smudged.)
Tax - 1.68
Tip - 3.67
Total - 27.00
14490 Big Basin Way
Saratoga, CA 95070