Breakfast Quest I

(Trivium, Devildriver, After The Burial, Sylosis Leg 1 North American Tour, 3rd/4th Quarter 2013)

When I think back in the years, I don’t ever recall being a huge American breakfast fan. Since I always had the option of Japanese breakfast growing up, I don’t think I appreciated the greatness that is the American breakfast. Lately, Paolo and I’s thing has been nabbing up as much amazing breakfast in the USA as possible. America does several things very well in food, and breakfast (now that I am of the converted) in America is pretty damn amazing sometimes.

When it comes to narrowing specifics, anything in the range of the diner realm is something I gravitate towards. Whether it’s a greasy spoon, old school diner; or something like a New American diner doing familiar dishes with impeccably sourced local ingredients, having fun and taking liberties with adding in the unexpected – America has something darn fine going on (Canada does a good diner sometimes too).

This best-of-the-best list takes you to the spots I stuffed my face at first thing in the (touring band dudes’) morning (typically 11:45am/noon).

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1. Albuquerque, NM. The Grove.

This is the cafe that Walter White in Breaking Bad frequented. This is where the Stevia packet was poured. This New American-style diner does modern and classic favorites alike; it has cookbooks and kitchen utensils and such for safe; the orders are done at the counters, and man is everything fantastic here. Paolo and I shared breakfast with Chris and John from Devildriver, I had: coffee, croque madame (toast with ham, cheese, and an egg on top), a side of thick back bacon, and macaroons. I am a sucker for French food, and The Grove nailed it. Best breakfast of the tour in a sacred location of television.

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2. Asheville, NC. Early Girl Eatery.

Asheville’s Early Girl Eatery has the charm of an old diner, mixed in with being something run by cool local kids. We had lots of the Trivium band and crew in tow here for our feast. The meal included: Local sausage and sweet potato scramble, multigrain pancakes, and fried green tomatoes. The fried green tomatoes here are a show-stopper.

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IMG_16983. Chicago, IL. Little Goat.

Little Goat is in my mental notes of the sort of place I would open if I ever owned a restaurant. A modern, sleekly, yet warmly designed spot with the traditional diner as the backbone and inspiration upon what is built up here. Little Goat in Chicago and Skillet in Seattle are my favorite vibes of the “modern” diner as I call ‘em. Chicago is a beast when it comes to having an endless supply of mind-blowing food, and Little Goat follows suit. I went for their corned beef hash and a coffee. It was familiar, but done in that New American way that I love so much in the USA.

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4. Minneapolis, MN. Moose And Sadie’s.

Moose And Sadie’s like everything previously mentioned has become our tradition every time we hit the city. Moose And Sadie’s is setup like a local coffee shop with a counter you order at which slings out some really delicious stuff. I went for the huevos rancheros and a side of potatoes. Really impeccably done in it’s simplicity and freshness of ingredients.

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5. Boise, ID. Goldy’ Breakfast Bistro.

Great local diner run by younger folks. Beautifully done diner classics. I went for the omelette with spinach and gruyere, Goldy’s peps potatoes, maple house-made sausage, and wheat toast.

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6. Spokane, WA. Frank’s Diner.

Of the list, this is the first truly old school diner that is still hanging around sending out fantastically done breakfast and diner classics. I went for the hobo scramble here. I am a big fan of eggs, potatoes, cheese, and a meat all being paired up. As a kid, my dad would always mash all those components up in his breakfast and him and my sister would call it “mush”. It took me a few decade – but now all I want is “mush”.

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7. Charlotte, NC. Mattie’s Diner.

P90 Omelette.

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8. Boston, MA. Eastern Standard.

Scrambled Eggs, French Toast.

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9. Thunder Bay, Ontario. Niva’s.

The Big Finn

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10. Denver, CO. Syrup.

The Remedy.

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11. Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. The Poached Egg.

Breakfast Plate.

Dishonorable Mention:

Toronto, Ontario. The Senator.

I had the senator omelette. It was vastly overpriced, the potatoes were sad and obviously from a frozen bag, the eggs were burnt, the waitress very rude to Paolo, Chris (Devildriver), and myself. I don’t normally pick out spots to call out – but we walked far as heck to get there, were treated badly, fed badly, and ripped off as far as I’m concerned. Don’t go there.

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Chin Chin

Melbourne, Australia

Melbourne is the food capitol of Australia. Melbourne is a food capitol of the world. And Chin Chin is one of the best damn examples Melbourne can prove of these points. 

Years back, on a different tour of Australia, Paolo and I tried getting in to Chin Chin; our efforts were fruitless. This last trip on Sound Wave 2014, we had 3 days off in Melbourne, we attempted once again to get in on the first day off only to find the restaurants exactly as we left it: bursting with people. We asked one of the servers “If you don’t do reservations, how and when can we ever get in?” They gave us two options of times that would work (I’m not listing those times to keep those around for me when I get back); we tried the earlier option the following day and magically had a table.  Continue reading

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The Return Of Kiichi-kun III

In our epic conclusion to the trio that is “The Return Of Kiichi-kun III,” Ashely and I were finally able to venture into Tokyo and begin our exploration of all things Japan.

The first expedition found us wandering the back streets of Shibuya to head towards Harajuku. At first, we felt as if we were completely lost, attempting to utilize my phone maps (which for a USA phone in Japan, it doesn’t quite work right). Eventually we found the shops getting cooler, the food stalls becoming far more interesting looking. We popped in and out of punk-clothing shops, a baby clothes store that featured graffiti-style printed clothes for toddlers, some thrift shops, then gradually made our way towards Kiddy Land; the king of all toy stores. I’ve hit Kiddy Land each time in Japan, collecting my Final Fantasy toys, but this time they had none! We stocked up on omiyage for our friends and family, then went for food. Continue reading

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The Return Of The Kiichi-kun II

It was a short van ride to Saitama from the Tokyu Excel for Loud Park; when we finally arrived, we all grabbed our bags and stage clothes and headed to the dressing rooms. 

Like pretty much everything else in this country, Japan really has the dressing room situation figured out; not only figured out, but basically has all things hospitality, nailed down better than any other country could even fathom. Each band has their own large private space, a decent rider in their room, temperature controls for your room (you’d be surprised how rare this feature is typically), a clean bathroom and showers nearby (a rarity in some countries to even have a shower or toilet), world-class catering (with Japanese food), and really pro backstage crew (including stage crew, caterers, hospitality, security, press, etc.). Japan, just like in everything else, does the backstage world better than anyone else. Continue reading

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The Return Of The Kiichi-Kun I

There’s no place on Earth that I strive to be in more than Japan; no where I feel more at home (outside of my own home); no where that when I’m away from it, I miss like one misses loved ones on a trip far away in some remote part of the planet.

I was born in the Yamaguchi prefecture (Iwakuni) January 26, 1986. I consider myself to be half-Japanese (my mother’s side), half-Marine (thanks to my military father). My family relocated to the USA when I was about 1, so I have zero recollection of ever being in Japan as a child. 

Thankfully – due to the band I am in, I am able to return once every year and a half or so. Lately – and unfortunately – Trivium only comes back for either a brief press run or one show in Tokyo. One show? That’s torture! I’d prefer to have a year long tour there than one measly show. Either way, one is better than none. Trivium returned for Loud Park 2013 and we had the greatest Japanese show ever, and one of the greatest shows of our career even. But if you live in Japan, you probably already heard about that show. Let’s go behind the scenes of everything else that happened on my visit. Continue reading

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Montreal, Quebec

There’s no question that I am one lucky son-of-a-gun; I get to play guitar and scream at people for a living (and they enjoy it), and my favorite hobby is eating the best food I can find everywhere on Earth. 

I am very fortunately able to investigate and chow down on some of the top bites on the globe, and if speaking in terms of: “what’s the best thing I’ve ever eaten in North America?” I can finally quickly and confidently answer that in one restaurant name: Le Bremner. 

Le Bremner is owned by chef Chuck Hughes, a badass chef who has multiple T.V. shows, several cookbooks, two wonderful restaurants (Le Bremner, Garde Manger), and has catered what I consider to be the best damn catering of any festival in music: Heavy MTL. I first met Chuck when we played Heavy MTL for the second time; we all were talking about how amazing it was the first time, and I wanted to merely thank the chef. When I was introduced to Chuck, I realized that this was the same Chuck whose show I watch all the time when I’m home. Chuck was a super cool dude; we chatted a bit, he checked out the show, we traded contacts, then we were off to another city. Continue reading

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Paris, France

When Trivium first started touring internationally, it was quite a concept to me that people from foreign countries and cities I’d never heard of would want to come see us play live. Now – to imagine that later in our career, our record label would be buying us plane tickets and putting us up in pretty decent hotels in foreign countries just for press outlets and people to hear us talk and not play… well, that just seems plain crazy. 

France is where it all came from, my friends; the pioneers of cooking back in the day here created many, if not most of the techniques we see used in all world styles of cooking. The blueprint and archetype of both elaborate and simple methods, the pairing of ingredients, the guidelines of it all – it was all fleshed out and perfected in France. 

If the classic ways of the world of cooking were set up here, what’s going on now?

The next evolutionary step. Continue reading

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Vancouver, Canada

Food-freaks in the know, know that Canada has some of the best food you can find in North America. Don’t believe me? Check out just a few of the restaurants recommended by people who know good food in Montreal, Quebec City, Toronto and Vancouver. Sure – French Canada is known to have some great bites, but Vancouver can seriously contend in the good-food arena. I believe I heard from a native Vancouver-an that Vancouver has one of the highest Asian populations in North America, and you know what that means: great freakin’ Asian food!

Vancouver has one of my personal favorite sandwich restaurants in all North America: Meat and Bread. We had a late arrival into Vancouver, but I was lacing up my boots as soon as we hit the city – my mission was to sprint to MaB as quickly as possible and just take it all in. A couple of us suited up and made the trek; the whole time I could be heard repeating to my gang about “how amazing this place is.” Long story short: we showed up and it was closed. It was like being a child who finally coerced their parents to take them to Toys R Us and it was closed for the day. I was heart broken. Defeated. Continue reading

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New Orleans, Louisiana 

It was on the In Flames, Trivium, Veil Of Maya, Kyng North American tour, where we had aday off in New Orleans. I’ve never had a proper food experience in NOLA, so it was time we straightened that out. On this tour, we had quite the all-star line-up as far as food-friends go for me: Joey B (Trivium’s tour manager), Rob Suchan (now ex-Trivium merch) and Paolo. Amazingly, pretty much most of our band and crew wanted to hang and chow during the day, so we all headed out to our first spot, Cochon Butcher. 

Cochon I believe has two restaurants: a sit-down, and a sandwich spot (sort of a deli); we wanted to hit Butcher so we could eat and drink, then repeat throughout the day in multiple locations. Everyone grabbed beers and placed their orders. The place is a very cool, contemporary take on the deli; you can see the meats curing, a chalkboard displays all their specials and regulars; sleekly modernized little renovated old-place (I assume for the last part). 

I was stoked. Anytime I walk into a place that comes this highly recommended from my friends and Rob’s friends alike – I know I’m in for a treat. My only bummer experience was when I was asking the girl at the register what she recommended, alongside a few other questions about the place, she very shitty-ly responded “man. You ask a lot of questions don’t you?” I won’t hold it against the place, since bitchiness is typically inherent before a vocational choice. Continue reading

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I Love New York City. Oh Yeah. New York City II. III.

NYC, NY

The mission of the day was to hit one of my now-favorite diners in Brooklyn: Diner. I initially saw this place on one of Bourdain’s shows, and from the first moment I saw this new-school interpretation of the traditional greasy spoon, I knew I had to chow down there. I’m not appropriately acquainted with the true history of Diner, but you can tell this place has stories to tell in its architecture; the floors look old, real old, the entryway is just a tiny little door – hardly even a logo on its facade. Inside, Diner feels like a mini-metallic hanger, you feel the commonalities with your average diner, only you feel a different air about the place: interesting looking kids run the place, with the same sort populating the tables and barstools.

This was the first introduction for each of us at Diner, and initially, when I saw the menu I was a little worried that I picked the wrong Diner; it had very simple selections with hardly a description: “sandwich,” “salad,” “burger” (at least I think it said burger on there). My lunch guests were Ashley and Darren (from 5B management) – I recall Darren looking at me and saying something along the lines of “are we at the right place? Should we maybe head somewhere else?” The location sure looked amazing, but were we possibly led astray into a different diner that wasn’t Diner? Continue reading