It’s tradition for Janna, Chooch and me to go out for lunch on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, if only doing this once prior counts as “tradition.” We’ve already started this tradition with a strangely volatile track record, because last year I chose a restaurant that was extremely crowded with awkward seating, so we left after being seated at a crowded counter, and then ended up having another awkward seating experience at the ramen place we chose as our fall-back.
But then we had a great time at a post-lunch cafe (Black Forge, holla!) so that made it seem, in our memories, that we should do it again this year. I guess kind of like how some women forget the horrors of pregnancy/child birth and do it again.
This time, it was Janna’s turn to choose an uncomfortable eating establishment!
First though, the day started on a high when Janna got yelled at in the parking lot across from my house for allegedly thieving Hot Naybor Chris’s wife’s parking spot. Janna had to swear that she’s not a weirdo after HNC’s wife ranted about all the weirdos in the neighborhood and swore she didn’t realize it was someone else’s spot (newsflash: none of us have our own assigned parking spots, so…).
“Wow, she’s very shrill,” Janna laughed when she walked into my house and Chooch and I were dying. We wanted her to get beaten, but verbal abuse is just as good!
We immediately set off for Ineffable Cà Phê which I’ve wanted to try for awhile, but anytime we’ve been in the area, it’s always looks very crowded. Well, today was no different and it didn’t help that we arrived right smack in the middle of noon.
Maybe I’m just FUCKING OLD, but I really dislike places that force you to order at a counter. I get that this is also a cafe, but perhaps separate the two areas, I dunno, because the menus were all split up in different spots and by the time it was our turn to order, I was teetering on the tip of a tantrum and blurted out, “I’LL HAVE THE SAME AS HIM” and nudged Chooch, even though I didn’t know what he ordered because every time I asked him, he ignored me.
Then the real fun began—looking for a place to sit. Again, this is a cafe that also serves food (and some of the food is pho, so…not exactly something you can casually eat while standing. I was having ANXIETY by this point because we were just standing there, lost, in everyone’s way, looking for a place that could seat three people, but because THIS IS ALSO A CAFE, 90% of the seats were occupied by people who were not eating, but staring at their laptops with dead eyes.
Booths? People working.
Shared tables? Full of lazy hipsters and surrounded by a moat of coiled laptop cords on the floor, which I almost tripped over numerous times.
It was absolutely trash as far as comfort levels went.
We finally settled on an armchair (which White Knight Jr, a/k/a Chooch, argued was “very comfortable” and he was “just fine”) and a couch in the corner, with some extremely enlarged spool-thing to use as a table. It was SO FUCKING UNCOMFORTABLE.
The couch was so low to the ground and I had to bend in half every time I took a bite of my tofu banh mi (good choice, Chooch), so I guess at least I was getting an ab workout, I dunno.
It was so bad that while we were waiting for our food, Janna could see Mt.Erinsuvius getting ready to erupt and suggested that we just get our food to go, save it for dinner, and then go somewhere for lunch.
NOT AFTER I JUST THREW DOWN $20 ON TWO SANDWICHES (AND NO DRINKS!!).
Luckily for this damn place, the banh mi was really good. It’s so hard to find GOOD TOFU on sandwiches, and theirs had a really great marinade to it. I approved. So did Chooch, who was blessedly silent while inhaling his lunch.
The worst part about this though was that I had to go to the counter and retrieve both sandwiches after my name was called, and it was a veritable slalom course of laptop cords and backpacks but I persevered all while muttering, “Don’t look at me. Don’t look at me.”
When Janna’s food was ready, the guy was like, “I will bring it to you” because she got pho, but she still walked over and kept trying to take it from him and he was like, “I WILL BRING IT TO YOU” – Chooch and I were dying. Finally, something good was happening!
Then the guy gave Janna a sauce recommendation but she of course didn’t pay attention, so when he left our table she was like, “What did he tell me to do?” and I was like, “Mix the sriracha and hoisin.” As she embarked on the treacherous journey to the counter to fetch said sauces, Chooch was like, “Oh, I thought you said sriracha and POISON and I was like ‘Yes, we’re killing Janna!'” Hahaha.
Actually, once we got our food and established ourselves in the corner which was DEFINITELY meant for relaxing with a book and coffee, not hunched over a lunch you’re trying not to spill, it was OK. Would I go back? I AM NOT SURE. Maybe I’d get it to go, but I can’t foresee myself ever attempting to dine in there again unless I get there immediately when it opens or like, right after a kitchen fire, idk.
However, there was one super positive aspect about this place, and that was when we stumbled on the adjacent boutique on the way out. It’s just a tiny little nook in the corner of the cafe but just secluded enough so you feel like you’re in another space altogether, and it’s run by a super lovely lady who chatted us up but not in the sense where I was trying to peel my skin off and lift it up over my head to form a nice bloody flesh tent under which to camp out with my social inadequacies.
She was SO LOVELY that Chooch was like, “I WANT ONE OF HER CANDLES.” They were all very earthly, masculine smells, er, scents, which I appreciate in a candle from time to time; one can only have so many pumpkin spices and clean cotton fragrances in the house, you know?
The special thing about her candles is that you can DIP YOUR FINGERS INTO THE HOT WAX, which is like every kids’ and my dream, and then RUB IT INTO YOUR SKIN BECAUSE IT DOUBLES AS ESSENTIAL OIL.
Brilliant. Yes, let me buy one of those.
It took Chooch forever to choose a scent (black currant is what he ultimately went for?!) and then Janna had to copy us and buy one too but when the lady asked her for her email address, Janna rattled off something I’ve never heard before, so I yelled, “HEY I DON’T KNOW ABOUT THAT EMAIL ADDRESS!” and it was quiet for a second while the lady’s eyeballs looked like they were watching a scary tennis match, but then Janna just nervously laughed it off so then the lady laughed too but I WASNT LAUGHING.
Meanwhile, there was a dog behind the counter but Chooch wasn’t able to reach it so he was terribly upset about that.
THEN WE WENT DOWNTOWN. I started laughing when I realized that it was exactly 2::00pm, which is what time I would normally be ambling about down there on a regular workday. First, we stopped at this art installation thing because Pittsburgh sometimes tries to hang with the Big City Kids by doing artsy things for people to either enjoy, scrutinize, or vandalize. I walk past this every day but have never bothered to stop and explore, so I was happy that we parked literally on the same block as it.
It was pretty cold that day but not as cold as it was last year when we did out MLK outing, because I think it was like 10 degrees that day. If you ask Mr. I Never Get Cold, he’ll tell you that both days weren’t cold at all. I hate him sometimes.
IF YOU LOOK, YOU CAN SEE ALL THREE OF US OMG.
I’m like way good at posing.
AnywaySSSS, the reason we were downtown is because Bae Bae’s Kitchen opened a brand new cafe down the street called, well, Bae Bae’s Cafe. I’ve been stalking it for months on my daily lunch break walks and was excited to get there on their second day! (I feel like the first opening day would have been stuffed to the gills with influencers and the like, so…no thanks.)
Chooch and I are both avid boba fans, so I got a taro and he chose earl gray which I thought was an odd choice for him and turns out he ended up thinking the same once he sipped it. He added some cane sugar to it after awhile and then deemed it drinkable.
This is DEFINITELY an Instagram-cafe. That’s not to take away from their drinks which are wonderful; they also serve lunch items but we had already done that so I ordered chocolate chip cookies for us to share and they were REALLY DELICIOUS. Like 진짜 맛있어요!
(Bae Bae’s is Korean, yo.)
So, the seating is pretty non-existent here, which was hilarious to us because all we wanted to do was be able to sit together today while eating and drinking?! Like, I can’t think of many more basic wants, you know? But this space is pretty small so probably prepare to pop in and pop out if you go on a busy day. As it turned out, Janna had to sit by herself and then when she left her seat to go to the counter to get her drink, some asshole stole her seat! AND THE GUY HE WAS WITH WHO WAS ALREADY SITTING ACROSS FROM WHERE JANNA HAD BEEN SAID NOTHING!
To be fair, either did Chooch or I. Chooch was just like, “LOL, Janna lost her seat” and then continued slurping up boba.
My bedroom is almost this same color and now I know that UMERELLA-ELLA-ELLAS ON THE CEILING is what it’s been missing. Get on that, Henry.
The guy on the couch is the d-bag who stole Janna’s seat, but then he moved to the couch once it became available, so Janna got her seat back. Damn. Anyway, these guys were v.annoying.
It’s a very elegant and, to use a word people hate, no not moist: WHIMSICAL.
I personally liked it because it gave off Wonderland vibes and that’s my jam. My favorite Alice In Wonderland is the version that as Carol Channing and Ann Jillian in it, in case you were wondering. I think it’s from the early 80s.
Seriously, the best. Followed by that weirdo Jan Svankmajer stop-motion film “Alice.” Horrifying.
Janna Sits Alone.
Anyway, the best part of the day was that the proprietor of the Bae Bae’s empire, Ashley, was there and she came over to talk to Chooch and me and she took our picture for the cafe’s Instagram story! She also said I looked very familiar to her and I was like, “Oh god, am I on some Koreaboo list?!” Like Megan’s List but for Koreans to watch out for people obsessed with their culture. But it turns out she just recognized me from all the times I’ve cupped my hands next to my face and peeked in the cafe’s windows JUST KIDDING she said she thinks I looked familiar because I follow Bae Bae’s on Instagram. To be honest, I rarely go to Bae Bae’s Kitchen even though it’s right near my office because:
- it’s kind of expensive
- it sits super heavily in my stomach (BUT IT’S SO GOOD)
- I don’t want to be a creep
We tried to stay as long as we could because there were three “super hip” Modcloth chicks hogging the best seat in the house and I wanted to get pictures there too but they came with A CAMERA, like a real DSLR, and just when I thought they were getting ready to leave, one of them went back up to the counter to order dessert for them to share, see also: NEW PROP FOR MORE PICTURES.
I saw later that night that Bae Bae’s reposted some of their pictures and THEY SAT ON OUR SEATS AFTER WE LEFT, which was like 15 minutes before closing, so maybe the whole time THEY were trying to wait US out?? Like, if I had just gone over there and politely said, “EXCUSE ME, CUNTS WE WANT TO SIT HERE FOR A SEC, BEAT IT” everyone could have gotten their way!?
Anyway, it was a tumultuous day. A real roller coaster of emotions. Maybe next year, we’ll just go to the movies and Taco Bell.