Wednesday was Health Fair day at the Daily News. There were booths to get information on diabetes, exercise, colon cancer and so on.
We also could get blood drawn for tests. While it's not one of my favorite activities, it seemed like the right time to do it. While I'm not particularly fond of needles or the sight of blood, one of the big reasons I don't get the blood tests more often is the 12-hour fast that's required.
I'm a breakfast-eating machine. Within 30 minutes of waking up, I must have breakfast. So waiting two or three hours for breakfast puts me in an ill mood.
What better way to break out of that funk than a big, hearty breakfast? When that's what I want, I head directly to Snow City Cafe on Fourth Avenue and L Street in downtown Anchorage.
The cafe is nearing the end of an expansion/ remodeling project that gives it more space and an open feel. Additional space at the popular eatery is a good thing. There are times when customers can wait 30, 45 or 60 minutes for a table on weekend mornings. The fact people are willing to wait that long for eggs, etc. should tell you something.
Laile Fairbairn, managing member of Snow City, answered a few questions about the restaurant, which opened in April 1998. If you're in town this summer, be sure to stop by. It'll be worth your time.
Q: Describe for me the feel/philosophy/ atmosphere/menu of the restaurant?
L.F.: "I think if someone comes in that you'll get to experience urban Anchorage, if such a thing exists. We’ve been voted the best breakfast in town by locals for three years in a row. It's my philosophy that when you visit somewhere you find out where locals go -- where locals are willing to wait an hour on weekends to get in.
We're very comfortable and community-oriented. And the food is good. We have fresh and healthier options, but we also have the Heart Attack on a Plate (hash browns topped with bacon crumbles, sautéed onions and mushrooms, smothered in cheddar cheese and served with sour cream). We have a diverse group of customers, so we have different types of food to satisfy the crowds.
I would describe the restaurant as fun and very light, in both spirit and physicality with all the windows letting light in."
Q: You're nearing completion of a remodeling project; how did that change Snow City Cafe?
L.F.: "The remodel was specifically to better the flow in the restaurant and allow people to come in and feel welcomed. Before, the crowd we had inside the front door was a disincentive to wait and hang out. It was congested; it was split into one side and other side. Now it is a lot more comfortable experience.
We also wanted to clean things up. It has been a hodgepodge place for a long time. It's nice and exciting to have it nice and shiny and new. But we don't want to get too corporate. We don't want to look like some chain restaurant from Outside. We want to remain Snow City and remain Anchorage.
I just love open places where you can see from one end to the other, and that's what we have now. It's a little bit like a bowling alley, but we worked with the space we had. We have the corner location and that's really exciting for us. Now you'll know we are here; with the corner we have visibility. And we're going to have outdoor seating for waiting purposes. That will be fun to be sitting there -- kind of like a little Paris in Anchorage."
Q: Do you have one or two menu items that seem to be especially popular?
L.F.: "Everyone seems to like salmon cakes with eggs; we call it the Ship Creek Benedict. And for lunch, the 4th Avenue Special is popular. It's a grilled turkey with bacon, cheddar, Swiss, sprouts and tomato. They are what a lot of servers recommend when someone new comes in.
We also have two fresh soups every day and daily specials. The specials always sell really well."
Q: The restaurant is vegetarian friendly. Do customers seem to appreciate that?
L.F.: "Anchorage is significantly underserved to get healthier food options. We have a lot of things on the menu that are healthy.
We make all our granola in-house. The Yogurt and Granola Parfait is extremely popular. On our fresh fruit plates we're adding more berries and melon choices. People ask for that all the time. We also can cook with egg whites or beaters. It gives people an option.
You can go whole hog or back off and have oatmeal. And our oatmeal is really good; it comes with granola, brown sugar and dried berries. Smoothies are really popular. We don't add anything weird in there; it's just fruit and juice.
One thing we're really excited about is farm-fresh eggs from the Valley. We're using them now. It's a big commitment on our part financially, but we really think it's important. Our supplier can't get us enough for everything, so we still use liquid eggs for omelets and scrambles.
We're trying to add more and more organic and healthier options. We do as much as we can."
Q: You sell Snow City clothing; is that popular?
L.F.: "People really seem to like them, but I'm always behind. I never seem to have the right sizes. We do very well selling the merchandise when we have it in stock. It says Anchorage, Alaska, and is a little more contemporary looking than some other clothing. Our logo is award-winning."