Tom's Restaurant has been in Prospect Heights since 1936. Due to its age and specialness, it was recommended as a place to have breakfast--where I could brave the crowds before braving the even larger crowds at the nearby Brooklyn Botanic Garden.
At Tom's, on a Saturday morning, you wait in line. Which I generally don't do. But here, it was about as pleasant as waiting in line can be. While you stand, the waitstaff brings you coffee, strawberries, ice water, and cookies. You're sweating and pressed, but you feel taken care of.
Inside is a cacophony of chintz, fabric floral explosions, and hand-lettered neon signage. Through this packed dining room you are efficiently shuttled, at times physically maneuvered, to the front of the line until seated. Tom's is a well-oiled machine--they keep you moving. You surrender to the process.
About the food, New York writes, "While the 70-year-old diner retains its old-fashioned, soda-fountain sensibility and hours (they're open only for breakfast and lunch), the recipes are updated to appease the increasingly yuppified Prospect Heights population."
I had the Supreme Pancakes, loaded with nuts and mangoes, while I shared a table in close quarters with a melancholy, middle-agey, hipsterish couple who were trying to negotiate their future--she wanted marriage and a baby, he didn't want to "completely forfeit life," she cried, he comforted her.
In the middle of breakfast, I started feeling headachey and stressed out. Maybe it was the intense emotions going on at my table, but most likely it was the crowd and its din.
I like to see a multi-generation mom-and-pop being successful, but it's probably best to visit Tom's on a weekday. If you do go on a Saturday, and you're not the sort who thrives on high-volume, close communal dining, I recommend you take half a Valium before your meal.