As I was reminiscing on my visit to Moulin, trying to come up with something witty and interesting to say about it, I started to ruminate on this blog as a whole, and what my brain spit out after all this work is that I think if you were to sum up Goldentooth in two words, they would be “pleasantly surprised.” In the cases of most of the restaurants I’ve visited for the blog that I hadn’t frequented before I was apprehensive and/or pre-convinced that they would suck. But again and again my assumptions are coming back to bite me in the backside when I am served another delicious meal. This all occurred to me especially with Moulin because I went there with the lowest of expectations.
I had actually been planning to go to Brenda’s because it was a rare weekday off for me and I thought that the wait would be less on a late Monday morning. Turns out I was wrong, as usual. Moulin was a third choice after I decided I didn’t have time to walk the extra couple blocks it would take to check out the line at Dottie’s. I’ve been aware of Moulin for some time, I’ve passed by hundreds of times and I’ve heard people talk about it like they used to go there and it was good, but they stopped going. It is kind of weird that I’d never been there, considering that I live barely 4 blocks away, but in terms of breakfast greasy spoon spots, I’ve been pretty loyal to New Village on Polk. I’ve been eating farmer omelets and hash browns there for going on 7 years. That’s why it pains me a bit to say that I want to go to Moulin for breakfast now and forever.
My preconceived ideas about Moulin started to change as soon as I walked in. I had been expecting something dingier and dirtier with more booths. Instead, the interior was neat, though a bit cramped, and it was bright in the front and shadowy in the back. It looked a bit like a chalet or some sort of Disney version of Scandinavia. I kept thinking that it felt more like a diner in Southern California than one in San Francisco. It was easy to forget that the Tenderloin was bustling right outside.
The food at Moulin is cheap. Not astoundingly cheap, not especially cheaper than other diners, but cheap enough. I ordered my coffee and I ordered the French toast breakfast, which came with sausage and an egg, which I asked for scrambled. As I drank my coffee and found it being refilled at an astonishing clip, I noticed that there were only two people working in the restaurant. An older Asian man who was taking orders, serving food and coffee and running the register and an older Asian woman who was doing the cooking and picking up the slack on the other tasks when her partner got busy. Only two people in a restaurant that was fairly full of customers, and my coffee never got more than three-quarters empty. Also, nobody entered or exited without getting a sincere and cheery greeting or farewell. Several customers they seemed to know and they would stop and chat with them for a moment or two. And still my coffee and water stayed full and my food came out in a reasonable amount of time considering there was only one cook.
I was astounded by the efficiency of the proprietors, but I was most astounded when my breakfast arrived. It was GOOD. And I don’t mean “good” like, “oh yeah, it was pretty good.” This was one of the more delicious breakfasts I’ve had in a while. The french toast was eggy and light and sweet after I drenched it in syrup. The sausage was cooked in such a way that a crust formed on the outside of the link that you crunched through to reveal a juicy interior, yet the usual slime of grease you find with your breakfast sausage was absent from the plate. And the egg…this was the highlight of the meal for me. So many times you get scrambled eggs at a diner and they seem kind of like a throwaway; almost always they are cooked incorrectly, either they’re too dry or too runny. These eggs were cooked absolutely perfectly, they were soft without being wet, they were fluffy and moist. And to think that this level of perfection was achieved in a kitchen with just one cook. My loyalty switched as soon as I put the first bite of egg in my mouth. And everything was served on pretty fiestaware! Moulin forever.
Can I say more good things about Moulin? As I mentioned before, the people working there were so so nice. The cook, Janet I assume, cleared my empty plate from my table and remarked “you finished everything! good for you!” Too adorable. As I paid (I think my bill ended up being about 9 bucks) and walked out of the restaurant, I was escorted by a chorus of “goodbye, thank you, have a nice day!” I could still hear it as the door closed behind me and I was back in the world. Luckily, morning is the nicest time to be on Geary Street. The streets are cool and quiet, the odors are relatively non-offensive, and everybody on the sidewalks seem to be in a better mood than they are in the afternoon, when the street denizens seem not as happy to be alive. I walked back up the hill home with a spring in my step, already looking forward to my next trip to Moulin.