DAWN DEALS

I'll be honest with you. Normally, I don't eat breakfast. I get up, drink something hot, and when my stomach starts interfering with my work or fun, I give it something just large enough to keep it quiet until its next meal. Sometimes that's lunch. Sometimes that's dinner. This is not to say that I don't know all about breakfast being the most important meal of the day. I am in complete agreement, especially for growing children and anyone who does physical work for a living.

I don't. I eat and then I write about it. And if I consumed three big meals a day, I would soon have to toss out all my size sixes and replace them with twelves. If food is fuel, my body runs just fine on less, thank you.

Oddly enough, there was a time when breakfast was one of my favorite meals. Of course, I usually consumed it at three or four o'clock in the morning after a night of dancing to some skinny-tie pop band. But that's another life--and, needless to say, another story.

Now on the rare occasion when I eat breakfast out, I dine with the rest of humanity. Wholesome, goodhearted people who believe, "Early to bed, early to rise," "The early bird catches the worm" and other aphorisms using the word "early."

Yawn. Oh, excuse me.
For the past week or so, I've reorganized my daily eating schedule to include breakfast at five different restaurants around the Valley. Goat, my ever-faithful dining accomplice, accompanied me on this expedition. Here then, in descending order, best to worst, are brief synopses of our experiences. I do not discover the perfect breakfast on this outing. Thanks to the Spicery in Glendale, however, I do experience a very pleasant one. This Victorian restaurant and tearoom has relocated in the past year. Now housed in the historic Messinger home just around the corner from its previous abode, the Spicery's new digs are spacious, gracious, high-ceilinged and ultra-ultra feminine. "I feel like we're inside the pages of Victoria's Secret," Goat whispers. He's got a point. With its floral wallpaper, lace curtains, lace tablecloths, wood floors and fresh flowers on every table, this would make a perfect set for a lingerie shoot. I worry that Goat feels uncomfortable. He rubs his arms. "It is cold in here," he says.

We sample the ham and swiss on biscuit and the spinach-and-bacon quiche. I order the latter; Goat, of course, doesn't eat quiche. Both items come with a cup of fresh apple, strawberry, cantaloupe, watermelon and canned pineapple. The biscuit, the quiche and the cinnamon roll we order on the side are home-baked and, though slightly overcooked, quite good. Our orange juice is made from concentrate. My orange-spice tea is bitter, but I love that it's served in a teapot with a tea cozy.

We are seated at a table for two by the window. Classical music soothes our shattered nerves. The chairs are comfortable, the view of old Glendale serene. "I feel like we're on vacation," Goat says.

So will you.

Like the Spicery, Gilbert's Farm House offers dining in what was once somebody's home: in this case, a real live Arizona farmhouse. In fact, the barn and some working tractors are still out back.

The decor isn't as fancy or feminine as the Spicery. Tables are nestled in former bedrooms and in what used to be the parlor and the living room. I like the old-fashioned chairs, the jam jars on every table and the country music on the radio. The Farm House feels intimate and, well, downright homey.

Breakfast is the only meal served here, but business is good. Some folks come every morning. The food is large and cheap and the waitresses are good-natured. We watch as our waitress tolerates the old ice-cube-down-the-back prank from a regular customer. God bless her.

Goat tries an omelet of sausage, bacon and potato. "How many eggs do you think they used in this?" he asks me. My guess is, oh, five. It is a huge omelet that is slightly salty--thanks to the abundance of crisp bacon pieces. My two eggs over-medium come with giant slices of paprika-doused potato, rye toast and sausage links. I'm disappointed with the sausage. It's bland. Ditto for the biscuit with cream-colored sausage gravy.

A cinnamon roll at the Farm House is large and swirled and covered with frosting. It's tasty and sweet, but I like the Spicery's obviously hand-hewn version better.

Gilbert Road is a long haul from downtown Phoenix, but the trip might be worth it for anyone who's hankering for an old-fashioned, down-on-the-farm breakfast. Hit the road, Jack, and you might find yourself coming back for more and more and more and more.

At this point in our survey we get into shades of gray. I like the feminine ambiance of Aunt Pittypat's Pantry in Glendale, but the eats leave something major to be desired. Refresher course: Aunt Pittypat is a character in Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind. In case you've forgotten, photographs from the movie, dolls of the character and copies of the book are carefully displayed around the dining room, along with other antiques.

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