Breakfast is probably the most dismissed meal of the day, so when there is time for a proper breakfast it feels like such a luxury.
Sitting down, enjoying a cup of tea, a place setting actually set, with knife and fork. Perhaps to justify the extravagance of sitting idle the morning news from NPR might be on.
This morning was sausage made by Leno from King City, and you thought the only thing going on in King City was the speed trap! Leno makes a good cocktail too, if you can find him. Also on the plate: a local araucana egg (the green one), fried with a lightly runny yolk. Tea is somewhere out of shot, but it’s there. I hope you had a good morning, too.
Oh my goodness! I’m up in the Bay Area for the week, this time opting to leave my car with relatives in Fremont and BART into the city. This means Oakland is en route, so why not stop off for the day, see a few friends, and eat at a few awesome places. First stop: the Brown Sugar Kitchen I’d heard so much about for their chicken and waffles. Last autumn I spent a little time in Oakland and my host listed this as a possible breakfast spot, but was apprehensive about the price, so we opted for a cheaper soul food restaurant and I’d been kicking myself over the decision since. So glad to finally give this place a shot. Let’s dig in.
We’re a group of four today, with about a 30 minute wait on a lovely sunny day when we can take our coffees outside onto the benches for a leisurely sit and chatter. It’s late breakfast, early lunchtime. Okay, maybe it’s lunchtime. We share an order of beignets. They’re big, fluffy, covered with powdered sugar, and have a lightness to them that almost makes it hard to believe they were deep fried.
But what did we really eat. Heath got…uh, I don’t remember what Heath got (pictured on left). Two poached eggs over…it looks like a grits thing or breakfast potatoes. He said it was acceptable. Andrew got smoked chicken and shrimp gumbo (on right) and it was a ridiculous portion, he ate less than half of it. Oof, what a lot of food.
But whatever, how was the chicken and waffles? First, let me tell you that I attempted, like a total noob, to share the order with Crystal and she’s all NO WAY GET YOUR OWN. I did, worried it’d be way too much food. But somehow, it was all consumed, happily, quickly, I don’t know where it went. It was really really good. Perfect fried chicken, mostly dark meat as we’d begged the kitchen to give us.
And the waffles, oh man, transcendental. These are corn meal waffles and they are crisp, light, a little crunchy from the cornmeal, and just perfect for the fried chicken. It’s like the South’s version of the Brussels style waffle. It came with butter and maple syrup, cost about $15 and I’d order it again and again, because I don’t know any other chicken and waffle place that does it with cornmeal waffles. Oh man. We left happy.
Brown Sugar Kitchen (West Oakland)
I’ve had breakfast and lunch only – no dinner yet.
If you are staying at the Indigo Hotel, aren’t you the lucky one to have this food brought to you in bed. It would be such an incredible luxury.
But I simply walked in the door, sat the bar on two occasions and a small 2 top later on, and thoroughly enjoyed my meals nonetheless. Maybe it was because it was the first beautiful days of quintessential Santa Barbara weather (“Sunny. 72. Next update in 5 days.”) that broke everyone’s pseudo Seasonal Affective Disorder from the freezing temps of 2013, or maybe because it’s damn good food.
If it can be made in-house, it is. If not, it’s sourced from local purveyors and those names are available online, or ask.
My first visit, I had the two eggs any style, with bacon or sausage, potatoes and toast. I opted for poached eggs, it came in a pretty bowl with a sea urchin pattern. The house bacon is sweet and smokey, not salty. Potatoes were delicate little roasted things. $10.
My friend had the tomato braised Niman brisket with poached egg and potatoes, a tender mass of good things. $16.
Second visit was lunch with a very hungry friend, we got loads of good things.
* Mushroom pizza – made with local mushrooms and truffle oil. This is good to share with a friend. The truffle was not overpowering. I’d like to try their other pizzas, I just love the fresh char and smoke on crusty bread.
* Panna cotta – very enjoyable of the desserts we got. At first my friend seemed critical of the dish, it wasn’t apparently jiggling in a way he would have expected. But in time he admitted it was good. I liked the touch of seeing lots of vanilla seeds throughout the dish. I’d get this again.
Third visit was another breakfast, less than 24 hours after I’d had lunch. We tried the crab and eggs benedict, the breakfast sausages, and another cinnamon roll. All were delicious, and the sausage made in-house, but now that I’ve had both bacon and the sausage, I’ll stick with the housemade bacon. It is so good.
Everyone working there was extremely nice and knowledgeable. Sitting at the bar is a pleasure, where you can look up in awe at the variety of liquor available. I’m eyeing up the Negroni. But that’s for another visit.
Anchor (adjacent to the Indigo Hotel, with a street entrance and hotel entrance)
It’s been ages since I’ve been here for a meal. I’ll guess about six years. Back then, people loved the poached eggs and I recall having a suspiciously perfectly shaped poached egg on toast for breakfast with my friend Michael.
Times have not changed, the poached eggs here are still a highlight, and they are still prepared in some kind of capsule that makes them perfectly symmetrical eggy objects containing liquid gold.
I had work stuff taking place downtown all this week, and on this day there was actually time to get breakfast. After a six year hiatus, here I was. It’s not that I dislike the place. But seating is limited, my time downtown is limited, why play those odds.
I ordered the French toast with poached egg. It is a single slice, cut very thick and served with butter and syrup, with the ever-popular poached egg sitting on top. Upon breaking the egg, the yolk oozes forth over the toast, making life wonderful.
All for the low low cost of $10. Views of the post-yogied, dog-walking elite, and work-from-homers free of charge!
Sandrine and I have been trying to catch up with each other more often. It’s been getting harder with changes in jobs, and her having kids. December and January were also bad due to recurring illnesses, we were both disappointed that she had to miss the Edible conference in late January from being sick or taking care of sick children.
So today: breakfast. She’d made warm baked granola with apricots, and a cinnamon swirled breakfast bread. And tea and coffee.
Everything was so good. The warm granola was a Sunset recipe, a new favorite of theirs. It’s not baked as part of the process of making dried granola, but baked so that it came out warm, soft, almost like a crumbly cake, and could be eaten on its own – which is how they eat it – or with a little cream – which is how I ate it.
The bread was likewise wonderful, sweet, but not overly sweet. And with a perfect swirl on cinnamon. She told me her secret to making a more robust vein of cinnamon, but I don’t recall it. Something about making a cinnamon paste. I’ll hit her up again when I’m trying the sticky pecan buns since my feedback on them was that the cinnamon stuffing wasn’t bold enough.
But about Sandrine’s bread. Henrik loved it. So did I.
It’s not a superior croissant by any means, but this is a croissant sandwich filled with turkey, cranberry spread, fried egg (with oozy yolk) and swiss cheese and it cost just $3, from the workplace cafeteria. To that I say: Not Bad.
If every relative of mine from South Dakota suddenly showed up for a reunion, I think I could safely take them to Venita Rhea’s and they’d find something on the menu they’d like. In fact, I suspect some of the people there probably share some of my South Dakota gene pool. I don’t know what else to say other than this was my last hot breakfast before heading off to the desert for some extreme camping.
Ted got something that looked like a pile of sick, I think it was a scramble and it was a very big portion. Bloorf!
This is one of those restaurants where anything goes, where the customer can decide exactly what they want. But should they? Left to my own devices of assorted choices and substitutions, I ended up with a toasted bagel, a poached egg in a bowl, and some sweet potato fries. Most unstylish breakfast ever. I’ll tell you what I was thinking. I was thinking of eating the sweet potato fries and taking the rest to go. But I wanted boiled eggs, and it turns out they don’t actually have eggs in their shells in the kitchen. huh? So, boiled eggs aren’t possible, but I can have them poached! It defeats the purpose of me taking them in a doggy bag, but fine. And now that I have to eat the eggs, I may as well eat the bagel. I don’t know, the whole thing was odd. Win some, lose some.
Bonus: comic geeks can relish the mural on the restaurant walls that are embedded with iconic cartoon figures and analogies.
This is a place I tried to eat at last year, but we couldn’t get our acts together Sunday morning, and by the time we did the queue for dining was too long. This year we were better prepared.
The queue this time was only 20 minutes, but also, we arrived with adequate time for dining and errands before hitting the road at a good time.
The Original Pancake House is a true international house of pancakes, unlike the nationwide chain by that same name. IHOP is more like “how many ways can we top regular pancakes?” That’s not international. International is serving dutch pancakes, American pancakes, crepes and the like.
I got the crepes with cherries and cherry sauce. It’s a lot of damn cherries, and quite sweet. I ate the crepes, but took home most of cherries for making a cobbler or pie.
I’m glad I went, now I can check an actual international house of pancakes off my list. But I don’t need to return, not when there’s endless asian food offerings up and down the same street.
Original Pancake House (Kearny Mesa)
Our B&B in Stratford was a cute little place called the Curtain Call. Although I dropped the luggage off there en-route to the wedding reception, and then we limped up to the room somewhere in the middle of the night, I didn’t get much of a look at the place until the following morning. It was cute!
But oooh, it was an aching head moment the following morning, sitting in full sun with the effects of late night dancing, eating and drinking still pounding in the head. Plus, breakfast was served only between 8 and 9 am. As in, eat it *before* 9 am. So really, it’s breakfast at 8 or 8:30 am.
Add to the confusion the man who came out to bring our coffee, tea and juice. Turned out he was American! The Inn is run by a couple – Cheryl and Dave, a British woman and an American man, former military based in the Cotswalls who fell in love with the area and an area woman, and stayed. Both were fun to talk to. They took great pride in running their businesses and serving up a fantastic full English breakfast and taking great care that the ingredients were of the highest quality and locally sourced. Free-range eggs, and sausages procured from a small business butcher and the Inn owner had visited the very farms the pigs came from. Plus bacon, beans, tomato, toast, and an assortment of cereals and milk.
Really, for £65/night, for two people with a private WC and shower, and including this great breakfast for two, in Stratford, for a Saturday night? That’s an amazing deal, it’s only about $100 total. Bravo.
The Curtain Call
It seems there are two pubs in all of Inkberrow. They are right next to each other, and involve a Bull. Well, now you know what happened to the head of the Old Bull when he got shipped off to the glue factory. Kidding!
The Bull’s Head is the newer of the pubs, and offers accommodation. This is where we stayed the night before the wedding, along with the groom and his party. So, drinks a plenty.
I seem to recall that the gang stayed up quite late at night, and involves cigars that may or may not have been initiated by me and at one point we were told to hush, but my jetlag had gotten the better of me and I spent most of the time crashed on the bed while people talked around me. That is better than Sanda, who was just like me – conked out – but sleeping mostly upright on the floor. Anyway!
By the next morning we were bleery and tired. This is when the gracious powers of the Bull’s Head talents came into play. Our Bed and Breakfast included a gorgeous full English breakfast with many options and I believe we took all of them, *especially* the black pudding.
The dining area is separate to the pub dining area and is nicely appointed with dark wood tables and good light. The table was loaded with all the proper accountrements of breakfast. Pots of tea, caffetieres of coffee, sugar and creamer bowls, endless spoons and hot plates of fried eggs, bacon, sausage, black pudding, tomatoes, mushrooms, potatoes, beans and fried bread. Gorgeous!
Who ordered the beer?! That’s not morning juice! Oh well, it was all good. The bloody mary cocktails were especially welcome, and the price tag was dead reasonable, £3.75 each.
The Bull’s Head Inn