The way you measure the "true grit" of a restaurant, particularly if you're planning on enjoying breakfast, is to ask yourself a couple of simple questions:
Does the restaurant cater to the tastes of locals?
Photo: Knotty Pine Café is located just north of the airport, in a building that reminds you of home. Cheek out the pine tree growing out of the roof, in the middle of the photo.
On December 26, 2010, I blew into Bakersfield on a whirlwind trip to visit my son, Matthew, and since he's lived in Bakersfield for most of his life, he knows the local restaurant scene very well. Like me, his father, he's a HUGE fan of breakfast, so we arranged to meet at Cope's Knotty Pine Café for breakfast, at the somewhat-late hour of 0900. But what the heck? ... not only was it the day after Christmas, but it was Sunday as well, which made it the perfect excuse to enjoy a later-than-usual breakfast. But the aforementioned statement couldn't be said about me, as I had to leave the Sacramento area around 0400 - yawn!!!! - to be at Matthew's place at 0900 or so.
Photo: All seats are full on this busy Sunday morning, the day after Christmas, 2010.
Photo: The place is packed on this Sunday morning, but the photos gives you a good idea of the comfortable dining that Knotty Pine offers.
Knotty Pine Café is worth the long drive from Sacramento... how many breakfast restaurants factor into that statement? I can see how the place got its name, as it's very rustic on the inside, as the walls are paneled with real knotty pine, tongue and groove boards, and decorated with vintage tools, musical instruments, and kitchen gadgets. I was especially impressed with the many painted hand saws hung on the wall - they would make Paul Bunyon very proud, and he would probably wish Michigan sported a restaurant such as Knotty Pine Café. Moving outside, they have a veranda where you can relax before you're seated for a table, as was the case on this busy Sunday morning. As you relax and take in the fine Bakersfield sunshine, and the view of nearby Meadow's Field, which is the municipal airport, and you can marvel at the pine tree planted next to the restaurant, and the fact that it's actually growing through the roof of the veranda, which compliments the very rustic atmosphere of Knotty Pine Café.
There were quite a few hungry diners waiting outside on this busy Sunday morning, so while I took outside photos of the restaurant, Matthew went inside and made reservations for us. We sat on the veranda, and our names were called within a couple of minutes, as seating just the two of us was a synch. We were introduced to our charming server, Debbie, who presented us with menus and drinks, and I proceeded to give her the "rundown" of what we were about to do, mainly:
Enjoy a delicious breakfast (duh????)
Debbie was extremely interested in the whole process, so I presented her with the url of this web site... with the caveat that it would take me some time to publish this article, as I was a long ways behind in my web site activities.
Photo: Debbie places my order of catfist and eggs on the table, as she holds Matthew's order of chicken fried steak and eggs, as I snap the photo and Matthew gives a grin of anticipation for a truly delicious breakfast.
Photo: Just a split second later after taking the previous photo, Debbie places Matthew's huge chicken fried steak entreé on the table. The chicken fried steak was plated all by it's lonesome... it was so big, that Matthew brought half of his breakfast home in a box to enjoy later.
Knotty Pine's menu has everything that a breakfast lover would crave, including all of the classic American comfort food items that most of us crave. Actually it could be said that Knotty Pine Café is a true piece of "Americana..." what more could you expect from a town where two major streets are named after native sons, Buck Owens and Merle Haggard. I'ts almost like getting to dance the Pecos Prominade with Tanya Tucker... I'm a HUGE country music fan, but that's another story... Matthew ordered his favorite entreé of chicken fried steak and eggs, and I decided to take a walk on the wild side by ordering fried catfish, homestyle potatoes and eggs. Both of us ordered biscuits and gravy, with is a de facto standard for father and son.
Photo: Matthew's breakfast of chicken fried steak, hash browns and eggs over easy. The biscuits and gravy hadn't arrived as this photo was taken, but check out the next photo...
Photo: My breakfast of a plate of biscuits and gravy, two eggs over easy, fried catfish and tarter sauce. Matthew's biscuits and gravy are just barely visable in the photos. Fried fish for breakfast is a tradition in Bakersfield, so when in Bakersfield, do as the Bakerfieldsonians do! Cutise-poo sayings aside, Matthew and I both agreed that our breakfasts were delicious. Any way you look at it, Knotty Pine Café is a keeper!
Matthew has enjoyed breakfast at Knotty Pine Café many times before, since he's a Bakersfield local, but for me, this was my first time. So I'll just make a few comments about the place:
The food is good... no... it's GREAT!!!!
Matthew pointed out to me that the waitresses seemed to know many of the customers by name, as the place is a local hang-out, and enjoys many repeat customers.
Photo: Matthew, to the left of the photo, and me, his dad, have Debbie take our photo, as we're about to enjoy a delicious breakfast, on this Sunday morning in Bakersfield. Check out how much food we have at the table!
What isn't there to love about Knotty Pine Café? My former spouse, Robbin, who has lived in Bakersfield for nearly three decades and has been dining at Knotty Pine Café for almost as long highly recommended it to me, and my son Matthew endorsed it as well. Knotty Pine Café is everything you can hope to find in a good ol', down-home, diner, classic American restaurant.
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