620 South Presa Street
(in just south of the Alamo Street crossing)
Between the hammered-metal ceiling and the painted-concrete floor is a restaurant that successfully emphasizes its down-home Last-Frontier philosophy. The breakfast food available here is largely simple fare, properly done. Eggs, pancakes, biscuits: these things are hard to screw up (I can say that, despite recent experience?), but also hard to really excel at. Still, everything we tried at Mr Tim's was as we expected, and a little more.
|Last city inspection: August 2011; 16 demerits|
On arrival, my first thought was that I would not be happy with any place that not only offers liver and onions (all viscera being Number Two on my personal list of Five Foods I Will Not Eat Under Any Circumstances), but brags about it with a large sign on the front window. I was relieved to find that no one in the place had ordered liver, which has, to me, a distinct and revolting aroma.
Not that there were many people in the dining room; at 10AM on a Monday, with school back in session, I suppose all the parents in town were at home reveling in the restored privacy, or at work. They weren't out having a late breakfast. Mr Tim's has, effectively, two dining areas: the original one, and a closed-in former patio (I'm guessing) out front. (A small outdoor seating area right between building and sidewalk remains, but only large enough for a couple of tables.) We were almost alone among the 18 tables. We apparently snuck in below the radar of the staff, as it was a short while before anyone came to greet us with menus and utensils, but once they knew we were there, the service improved to a level that could be described as better than average, without doing violence to the words.
The breakfast menu is full of run-of-the-mill offerings: you've got your eggs, your pancakes, your breakfast meats, your bread choices ... the kind of stuff you can get anywhere breakfast is served. This is, first of all, a traditional place, and those are the things Americans traditionally eat. But there are a few indications, too, that Mr Tim's is just a little out of the ordinary: "Texas Style French Toast," for example (not on the online menu, but on the card), and bragging-rights cinnamon rolls. These things stake Mr Tim's claim to excellence, and we mainly found that a claim worth considering.
We agreed to split one of those cinnamon rolls. I haven't had an oversized cinnamon roll since the height of the fashion passed in, oh, 1986. The steroidal offerings I've seen in various pastry cases around the country have never been much of a temptation to me, but I thought, in the interest of science (let's call it), I should at least try one; so we agreed to split one. We should have brought at least four more people for that. Most of it now rests in my refrigerator, in a Styrofoam go-box, where it will prove the devil's plaything until I've destroyed it. It was, to quote the man across the table from me, "a biiiiiig-ass cinnamon roll."
It is huge. I'd say it's probably eleven inches square, and about two and a half inches high; not so high as those monsters you see as you walk in to Lulu's (which, I believe, is Mr Tim's main competition for the local Cinnamon-Roll Crown), but surely as filling. The rolls at Lulu's are made from strips of dough turned on edge and wound around many times; Mr Tim's makes theirs with thick ropes of dough wound less tightly. While I'm sure each style has its partisans, I'm of the opinion that the lightly-wound ropes make for a lighter, less-dense roll, with a texture more like cake than biscuit. Certainly the cinnamon roll we sampled is a light, almost spongy creation, with a hint of almond extract and healthy doses of cinnamon and a full, but not excessive, slathering of sugary glaze, sufficient to cover the entire plate-sized roll with the stuff, and to form glaciers in the creases of the dough.
We made the mistake of ordering a regular breakfast, too: eggs, hash-browns, and biscuits, plus my table-mate had bacon. The eggs were cooked perfectly to order, which just goes to show that it can be done. The hashbrowns were the most unremarkable part of the meal: not bad, just not worth getting excited about. They were just like the hashbrowns you get at, oh, The Waffle House: shipped in dehydrated form, rehydrated in the kitchen. Ho, hum.
Rick and I part company over the biscuits. He likes his biscuits flaky, in the Southern style; I like those, too, but am just as happy with the chuck-wagon style biscuit served at Mr Tim's: heavy but not dense, with enough structural integrity to stay intact when you use it to clean your plate. In fact, as I think on it now, I'll say I prefer that type of biscuit, as being more utilitarian than the flaky variety. I might not serve it to the Ambassador, but it's what you need when you're eatin' under the stars out on the range.
And it's hard to beat Mr Tim's for value. Whether a giant cinnamon roll is worth $5, I can't say, but laying that to one side, the rest of the prices are certainly on the low side. Any regular reader of this blog knows how important that aspect is to me, and if anything will prompt me to recommend a place to others, it's the feeling that you get a good deal when you go there. You get a good deal at Mr Tim's.