I've been doing a lot of thinking over the last six months about going back to school. It's a big, overwhelming, and expensive decision. Everyone seems to have an opinion about what's best, and I can't seem to make up my mind. Should I do a Masters of Arts or a Masters of Fine Arts? Or should I skip graduate school for now (or forever) and get more practical training in a postgraduate college program? How much money is too much to spend on education in a time when a fancy degree no longer equals a job? Some days I'm excited about the idea of being a student again and having the chance to learn and experiment and develop my skills. Other days I never want to stop working. I love working. I also loved school.
Since big, overwhelming, and expensive decision-making has never been something I'm good at, I decided to forget it all and embrace the best part of being a student: Lunch at School with Friends.
In this case, School happens to be a hot breakfast/lunch spot in Liberty Village.
In true Liberty style, School is nestled into a stretch of trendy urban-industrial brick buildings. The December sun was nowhere to be seen, but I could imagine some sunny mornings on that patio in warmer weather.
I'd been dying try this restaurant for ages since a bunch of coworkers started raving about it. My coworkers definitely know their restaurants and are always swapping culinary tips or sharing recipes so I tend to trust their reviews.
I just love the decor in this place. They've really made the effort to take the School theme all the way, but it feels trendy and grown-up. It looks nothing like any classroom I've ever been in, it feels cool. The theme is expressed subtly right down to the smallest details. The clocks all set to 3:30pm are telling us that school's out for the day and it's time for a snack. I don't know about you, but I was always ravenous after a long day of learning...
These chalkboards are definitely more artistic than most things I studied back in the day. And if you look closely at the paper lampshades, each one is different and made to look like a study sheet or a teacher's note to fit the theme.
Apples on every table and a peak at the cocktail list. I like the idea of being able to say that you're having a drink at school… Although I was rebellious enough in grade twelve to sneak a bottle of vodka into my locker in anticipation of a Friday night house party, I never actually drank at school.
I was one of those overachieving students who joined a million clubs and spent hours on campus being super-involved and slightly nerdy. Even with all those extracurriculars, somehow I managed to make it through all of high school and almost all of my undergrad without a single cup of coffee. But then, in the last two weeks of theatre school, there was a meltdown over a sewing machine and about a million yards of blue chiffon. That meltdown was part of a downward stress-spiral that led to a sudden interest in caffeine and cigarettes. The cigarettes vanished as soon as I got my degree, but I've never been able to fully kick the coffee habit. I'm no barista but the latte at School was one of the best I've had in a while. Creamy, a little sweet, no bitterness, and just the right buzz.
I'm sad to say that when it came to the food I was a little disappointed. School is strictly open for breakfast and lunch, offering both on weekdays right up until closing at 3:30pm. Weekends feature a special brunch menu with some of the same recurring items.
I ordered the Pulled Chicken Sandwich and chose salad instead of fries. The salad was great but basic: mesclun greens and vinaigrette like I've had at a hundred other brunch places. The lack of originally actually didn't bother me at the time; it was exactly what I wanted and tasted great. Same goes for the side of slaw.
I was let down by the sandwich itself. The chicken didn't taste as if it had much flavouring of its own and got the brioche bun pretty soggy. The BBQ sauce was spread on top instead of being cooked into the chicken which is what I had in mind. All in all those flavours didn't come together. The cassava chips on top added crunch but not much else. I hate to say it, I always like to keep things positive, but the whole thing tasted a bit bland...
Ugh. I hate reading that as much as I hate writing it.
On the bright side, Brooklyn loved her Catfish Po' Boy. The breading on the fish kept the toasted bun nice and crispy and the coleslaw added some tangy crunch.
After hearing such great things about this place, maybe my expectations were too high. I could be persuaded to go back and try another dish, but with so many great places to eat in the city it's hard to find the motivation to give a disappointing spot a second chance.
It's a tough thing, going back to school.
When it comes to real education, knowledge is never wasted. But can I really handle another two years of essays and readings and MLA formatting? Probably. But the sight of any more blue chiffon just might finish me.