No, its not called Al's Super Assss Friday, as promised, at least not yet. Though he does promise that it's coming.
In the meantime, infinitely quotable Anderson, restaurateur, raconteur, punk rocker, has adopted a quaint little Cathedral Hill breakfast and lunch joint called the French Hen, and he's hand-whisking hollandaise all morning. Which might just be the most punk rock thing you've heard all day.
He gets going at 5:30 a.m, "mostly so I don't have to hear anyone else talk."
"We're doing everything we should. That's it. It's really good. But it's not fabulous. There aren't enough places that are just good. It's a diner, it's a breakfast place, what else do you need to know?"
The menu is my favorite kind of menu: a study in minimalism, fewer than a dozen items at each meal, a couple of salads, a few sandwiches, properly made eggs, a "real reuben." The ham and the corned beef and barbacoa are all house-cured, the hollandaise he learned from Jerimiah Tower and involves whole butter, and his most excellent pizzas are available, but ask for them by name. "And those are pretty damn good, too." There are a few reds and a few whites and they're all $6 and they come in juice glasses. "I might keep a couple of bottles under the counter."
He says he's re-collecting all of his weird friends "by accretion," and today a guy who looks like the guru from the Heaven's Gate people is coming in. "I can't wait." His son Joe and his daughter Dune and one of Tammy Wong's (of Rainbow Chinese) kids all work there.
"And they're all insane."
The place was a family-owned endeavor that needed a re-do. Robin, Maddie, and Jack Rivard, a mom and her two kids, are all still involved and working onsite, but the rest of the details are "nobody's fucking business."
Anderson has a serious soft spot for this family, how hardworking they are, and he says he has to staunch "every fucking instinct I have. These people are just too nice." So, no Al's Super Assss Friday here. Not right now. "They're too sweet. I couldn't do that to them."
But he does want to give it a new name. "I mean, don't you think?" And he's thinking "La Bas," which translates to "down there." Like down in the earth, down the street, and you know, that other down there. "Definitely that one, too."
He's loving St. Paul because it's so weird and so sleepy. "I think yeah, I could see myself doing this."
When I suggest he's growing up he says no, just old. "It's not better or more advanced, it's just old."
But don't drag out the wheelchair just yet.
"I think about how punk rock my kitchen really is. There are no quenelles here, there are no tweezers here. There are no overweight white guys with beards and knuckle tattoos with initials for names who think they belong to an allegiance. This is a neighborhood place, and it's what a neighborhood place should be."
They're serving breakfast and lunch only right now, dinner in a couple of weeks.
Look for Al's Super Assss Friday sometime in the fall, serving burritos, pizza, a bunch of ice creams, and other "stoner food."
518 Selby Ave., St. Paul 651-222-6201 frenchhencafe.com
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