Jun 062014
 

A while ago, some of my labmates and I had a conference in downtown San Diego. I actually enjoy conferences in my own city because I feel like it’s more flexible – I can go from the meeting to work or home pretty easily. Of course I have also never been to a conference not in San Diego, so I guess we’ll see how I feel when the time comes, haha. Anyway, my labmate’s birthday was during the conference, so we decided to all have a celebratory lunch somewhere in downtown, and I was given the task of choosing a restaurant. Since I’ve been wanting to check out Cafe 21′s new downtown location, that’s the place I picked!

We had a really large group, and everything was a bit hectic, so I did not get a chance to photograph the place, unfortunately. Everything was really spacious and beautifully decorated with a rustic feel – I loved it.

Cafe 21 has just brunch and dinner menus – no separate breakfast and lunch, which I like. Weekend brunches are nice, but why can’t everyday be a brunch day? Haha. My labmates were really excited because they love brunch food, too.

Mimosa Flight [$21]

Mimosa Flight [$21]

We couldn’t help but order a mimosa flight to share. I believe the price was $21 but please correct me if I’m mistaken! As you can see, there’s a variety of flavors – apple, cucumber, cranberry, blueberry (I think), raspberry, and of course, the classic orange. I tried some of the cucumber, orange, and strawberry ones, and I must say that cucumber was my favorite – super refreshing. I’ll have to try it at home sometime.

I don’t think my labmates have ever been subjected to my taking-pictures-of-everyone’s-food-before-anyone-can-start-eating… haha. Everyone was super nice about it, though!

Prosciutto Omelette [$11]

Prosciutto Omelette: grilled Italian prosciutto, organic heirloom tomatoes, cremini mushrooms, cheddar cheese, mozzarella cheese [$11]

Shrimp Omelette [$13]

Shrimp Omelette: marinated shrimp, organic heirloom tomatoes, organic spinach, house pesto sauce, feta cheese, mozzarella cheese [$13]

Lamb Sausage Omelette [$13]

Lamb Sausage Omelette: house made lamb kufta meatball, organic bell peppers, heirloom tomato, goat cheese, mozzarella cheese [$13]

Several of us ordered the cast iron omelettes, which had the most adorable presentation. Continue reading »

Apr 212014
 

S and I haven’t been to a whole lot of brunch places ever since moving to San Diego. I guess we just haven’t been too impressed with most places, especially ones that get a lot of hype (e.g. The Cottage in La Jolla – sorry folks out there who are fans, but it just didn’t quite do it for me); add to that the long waits usually associated with weekend brunch, and we end up adding a bunch of brunch places to our bookmarks but not going to any of them…

However, we were recently invited to check out the brunch offerings at Table 926, a restaurant in the northern Pacific Beach area. I really do like PB even though driving there and parking isn’t always pleasant. Anyway, I was really curious about the place after looking at the menu, so S and I went to check it out!

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I liked the interior decor; it was bright and simple. I’ve been really into chalkboard walls recently.

On the beverages menu, there are bellinis (seasonal flavors) and coffee & tea from Pannikin. I wasn’t quite feeling like alcohol that morning, so I went with a hot decaf. S chose iced. I love Pannikin coffee so I really enjoyed it.

Pannikin coffee, hot and cold [$3 each]

Pannikin coffee, hot and cold [$3 each]

We placed our orders after perusing the food menu, and shortly after our server brought us this parfait to try, from the chef!

Parfait [$6.50]: Greek yogurt, berries, granola

Parfait [$6.50]: Greek yogurt, berries, granola

S and I have been trying out tons of different Greek yogurt varieties lately (I think it started when Kirbie graciously invited us to a Chobani event), and we really enjoyed this parfait. The yogurt itself was thick and creamy but not too sweet, and the berry compote provided just enough sweetness. My favorite part was their granola, which was really crunchy and had pumpkin seeds!

Breakfast Empanadas [$8.50]: eggs, applewood smoked bacon, pepperjack cheese

Breakfast Empanadas [$8.50]: eggs, applewood smoked bacon, pepperjack cheese

We were both quite curious about the breakfast empanadas. Continue reading »

Jan 062014
 

S and I recently checked out the brunch at Prepkitchen, since I had a couple of gift certificates to use. I had originally thought about going to Whisknladle, but since I’ve never been to Prepkitchen before, we decided to check that out.

Prepkitchen Del Mar

Prepkitchen Del Mar

There is patio seating and a few tables indoors. S and I chose to sit indoors since we usually don’t like the wind… haha. Our server let us know that coffee is self-serve.

Coffee station

Coffee station

Coffee

Coffee [$1]

Back in college and our early grad school days, S and I were actually pretty serious about coffee and would buy single-origin beans, grind them fresh, and use a Chemex coffee filter to make coffee. A couple of years ago, though, we realized that our hands would shake too much after drinking coffee and interfere with working in a lab… so I haven’t enjoyed a good cup of coffee in quite some time. I went with decaf here, and it reminded me that I should find a good bag of decaf beans and restart my habit of coffee enjoyment.

Anyway, enough ramblings… onto our food:

Donut Holes [$5.50]

Donut Holes [$5.50]

I’ve been craving donuts for a while, and when I saw donut holes on the menu, I ordered them immediately. They were served hot in a mini cast-iron pan, lined with a cut-up paper menu to wick the oil. S and I both loved them! I was thinking of eating just one and taking the rest home, but we actually polished off the entire thing in a few minutes. Haha. I especially liked that 1) they were served hot! and 2) they were dusted with powdered sugar instead of glazed.

Steak & Eggs [$16.75]

Steak & Eggs – hangar steak, herb butter, two eggs any style, hash browns, green salad [$16.75]

The steak & eggs was my choice. The steak was really good, cooked to a perfect medium rare, but I was a bit disappointed with the small portion of steak. The rest of the dish was a bit “meh” – the eggs were still quite runny (I didn’t mind too much, otherwise I would have sent it back), and I actually didn’t like the hash browns at all. It was too dense, and there wasn’t enough of the browned, crispy potato shreds that I love. S thought it was fine, if you think of it as a “potato cake.” Haha.

Pork & Sage Sausage Scramble - fontina, butternut squash, & kale [$11.50]

Pork & Sage Sausage Scramble – fontina, butternut squash, & kale [$11.50]

Continue reading »

Sep 122013
 

Kitchen 4140 is one of our favorite brunch places in San Diego, and recently, there was a $20 for $40 AmazonLocal deal. I purchased it immediately, but then forgot about it… until I saw that it was expiring soon! So, S and I quickly planned to have Sunday brunch there.

Luckily, they now take reservations, so we were seated right away! More often than not, brunch places don’t do reservations and you just have to endure the wait. While I can understand the rationale, I still like it when there are reservations.

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I’ve always loved the cow design, and I was bored waiting for food, so I decided to snap some random photos. Haha.

Blackened Steak Sandwich [$16]

Blackened Steak Sandwich [$16]

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We both wanted to try something different this time, so instead of the usual steak hash, I tried the steak sandwich: grilled skirt steak, havarti cheese, roasted tomatoes, caramelized onions, avocado crème fraîche, and herb aioli on a French roll. Even though there were so many ingredients, they all melded together quite nicely – I even enjoyed the avocado crème fraîche, despite being not too crazy about avocados (yes, I know I’m in California and it’s sacrilegious to say that). The steak was of course the best part, and it was quite juicy and flavorful.

The sandwich was served with fries, which were thick-cut and a bit greasy and salty, but we polished them all off nonetheless. It was served with a trio of sauces: curry ketchup, garlic aioli, and horseradish. I really liked the horseradish!

Smoked Salmon Kitchen Benedict [$15]

Smoked Salmon Kitchen Benedict [$15]

Continue reading »

Aug 142013
 

Karl Strauss is one of San Diego’s (many) local breweries, and quite a popular one with many of my friends. According to S, Karl Strauss beer is popular among visitors because it tends to be less hoppy or bitter than others, such as Stone or Ballast Point, which some people aren’t so used to. Haha. Well, I’m no expert about beer – I just like anything that tastes good, and Karl Strauss’ famous Red Trolley Ale fits that description IMO – but I definitely trust the judgment of S and my beer-loving friends.

Of course, I care more about the food. I’ve only posted about my dining experience at Karl Strauss Brewery Restaurant just once, as part of a “San Diego visit” compilation post. Since then, it has quickly become one of my favorite places for American food, and we often take our visitor friends there to enjoy good food and drinks – only during dinner time, though. But a couple of weeks ago, S and his lab had a going-away brunch for a couple of his labmates, and I tagged along since I had never had the brunch at KS before.

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I believe the only location with brunch is the Sorrento Mesa one, which is somewhat difficult to find as it is actually in the middle of a tech park. Thankfully, there are ample directions on their webpage to guide you to the restaurant.

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KS Sunday brunch is an all-you-can-eat buffet, and you get a choice of bottomless mimosa, champagne, beer, beer flight, or soft drink/tea. I chose the mimosa, but most people chose beers.

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Mimosa

I took a few photos walking around the buffet, but it was a bit crowded so it wasn’t easy to get good photos.

Meat carving station

Meat carving station

Made-to-order pasta station

Made-to-order pasta station

Syrups

Syrups

Continue reading »

Apr 142013
 

One of my favorite brunch places in San Diego is Urban Solace – I really love the flavors and ingredients there. It’s slightly heavier than many other popular brunch spots (e.g. The Cottage), but S and I tend to like that more. So, when I saw the Kirbie’s Cravings post on its sister restaurant in Encinitas, Solace & the Moonlight Lounge, I was really excited to try it out – and got the chance when one of my friends decided to have her birthday brunch there. Great thing about this place – they take reservations.

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Encinitas is such an interesting city to me, so different from San Diego (or the many other cities I’ve lived in). There’s free parking lots everywhere, boutique shops, cute little restaurants… I rarely see a big fast-food restaurant around here. It’s sort of nice, I suppose… also feels very rich. Haha.

Anyway, I arrived at the restaurant first and had some fun snapping photos. The restaurant has two floors, I think, but most of the seating is on the second floor as far as I can tell. There’s a pretty well-stocked bar area.

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Friends arrived and after taking a quick glance at the menu, we realized that the brunch items are almost the same as the offerings at Urban Solace. I don’t have a problem with this, since I love the food – just a bit surprised that it was so similar. S immediately opted for the Slow-braised Berkshire Pork Belly Bennie. Unfortunately I seem to have lost the photo of that dish.

I had a really hard time deciding between the Kitchen Sink Biscuits & Gravy and the Beef Cheek Hash. Finally went with the hash:

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Paso Prime Grass-Fed Beef Cheek Hash, Poached Eggs, Smoked Ancho-Chili Hollandaise ($13.50)

I thought this was decent, but S didn’t like it too much. He says there were way too many flavors going on in this dish, and both of us agreed that the Hollandaise sauce, while delicious, was too much for thie dish. I thought the runny egg yolk from the poached eggs was quite enough “eggy” flavor. Continue reading »

Mar 232013
 

Brunch is one of my favorite meals – relaxing atmosphere and comfort food, accompanied by good conversations. It’s been a while since I had the time to enjoy brunch, so recently I made plans with a girl friend to check out Fig Tree Cafe in PB. I had a Groupon deal, and it seemed like a decent place.

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The restaurant is, quite literally, underneath a tree. I’m not good with plants but I’ll just assume that’s a fig tree… All the seating is on the semi-covered patio. Thankfully, it was a warm-ish day.

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We started out with some coffee & tea. Look how gigantic that mug of tea is, compared with the standard cup of coffee! I think the tea cup must have been at least 1000 c.c.

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Shrimp & Mango Salad ($10.75)

Continue reading »

Jul 312012
 

It’s been a while since my last update.  I’ve got drafts piled up and finally have time to get to them.

I’ve been busy, but there should always be time for going to the spa with a girl friend.  But even better is the lunch afterwards :P  We were in Encinitas and decided to try out Honey’s Bistro, recommended by several people.

It was such a nice day and we got caught up in chatting that I forgot to take pictures of the interior and exterior… oops.  At least I remember to take photos of the food.

Order at the counter, and find a seat.  The menu was several pages long and a bit overwhelming – I really couldn’t make up my mind.  In the end, both of us ordered from the Specials chalkboard menu.

Santa Fe Omelette: chicken sausage, tomatoes, green onions, Ortega chilis, avocado on top.  Served with potato hash.  $9.25

Lobster eggs benedict: lobster, asparagus, green onions, homemade Hollandaise sauce.  Served with potato hash.  $10.95

Not the best photos in the world, but we were hungry and just wanted to dig in.  No time for multiple takes!

Both dishes were delicious – the omelette was soft and fluffy, and the ingredients were fresh.  I don’t normally like chicken sausage but this was really juicy and flavorful.  The lobster benedict eggs were poached perfectly.  The lobster was a bit over-seasoned, but overall really good.

But the real highlight of the dishes was the amazing potato hash.  The outside was browned to a crisp, tossed with green onions, and lightly salted.  Simple, and really really tasty.  It’s as good as the hash at The Mission, which is saying a lot because I loved it there.

Overall, I had a great time at Honey’s Bistro.  It’s a perfect place for a casual lunch, and they also have a few seats outdoors for a nice day.  And of course, the food is great.  Can’t beat that now, can ya?

Honey’s Bistro
632 S Coast Highway 101, Encinitas, CA
(760) 942-5433

Jul 192012
 

I had Sunday brunch with a couple of girl friends a few weeks back.  While we were planning, I was originally vouching for dim sum, but they convinced me to try out The Red Door, a quaint little restaurant in Mission Hills.

I was instantly charmed by the sunny interior, cute decor, and of course, the live music.  Ukulele and double bass, what a lovely combo.

A friendly server brought us our menus.  I was very tempted by the bottomless mimosas… but decided to hold off that day.  Didn’t want to be hazy for the rest of the day.

Complimentary muffins and scones for the table – the raspberry muffins were decent and fluffy, but the dried blueberry scones were delicious.  Crunchy, egg-washed exterior with crumbly and soft interior.  If only they had some crème fraîche for accompaniment.. that would really be perfection.

We asked for 2 more baskets of the scones, they were that good.  The waiter was a little shocked that three girls like us could eat so much.

I almost didn’t want to order anything and just eat scones all morning, but the menu items looked so good, too – finally decided on the sausage benedict.

Sausage benedict: chicken-jalapeno sausage patties over polenta, with hollandaise sauce.  Served with fresh fruit, $11

I’m usually a skeptic when it comes to chicken sausage (why deviate from pork, the best thing ever?), but I must admit that this chicken sausage patty was pretty good.  It was juicy and flavorful, especially with the added spiciness from the jalapeno.  Overall a nice dish – creamy polenta, deliciously runny poached eggs, and a super rich (almost overly so) hollandaise sauce.  Actually, the hollandaise sauce broke soon after it was served to me, which was a little sad.  The benedicts came with a huge bowl of berries.

Friends ordered the Skillet Egg Souffle and Shrimp and Grits (not pictured).

Skillet Egg Soufflé: ham, eggs, and caramelized onions baked in a puff pastry.  Served with fresh fruit, $12

Certainly wins many points for presentation.  I think anything that comes out in a skillet just deserves extra points, even more so if there’s puff pastry involved.  After tasting some, though, I wasn’t as impressed by the taste – the eggs were too overcooked to be considered a “soufflé.”  Maybe like a frittata?

I didn’t get a photo of the Shrimp and Grits, which I now regret because I wish I could show all the folks in the South just what Californians have done to grits.  Instead of the creamy “corn porridge” served in a bowl, the grits looked like mashed potatoes, but more yellow.  I almost think that they took the same polenta from my benedict dish and mashed it into “grits”…haha.  Alas.

The bottom line?  I don’t think any of the dishes wow’ed me (although the scones certainly did), but the relaxing atmosphere was perfect for a lazy Sunday morning, and I had a nice time here.  I checked out their dinner menu online – a little pricey but the items sound yummy!  Maybe the next date night?

The Red Door
741 W. Washington St., San Diego, CA
(619) 295-6000

http://thereddoorsd.com/

Apr 272012
 

I visited Kitchen 4140 for brunch on a fine Sunday morning with Sk.  I’ve been a bit wary of restaurants offering brunch, since many turn out to be overpriced and underwhelming meals.  But the reviews for Kitchen 4140 were high, and I had a Passport Card discount, so I decided to give this place a try.

We chose indoor seating, and the inside is decorated in a really neat, modernist style.  I love the high, wooden ceiling and paintings of cows, haha.

They had a pretty extensive drinks menu, with various coffee, espresso, tea, and other brunch-y drinks.  I tried my first Yerba mate tea!  I loved the spiciness of the tea and will definitely be getting some for my office.

Mate latte: organic Yerba mate with steamed milk & honey , $3.95

And Sk ordered an Almond Joy mocha, which actually did resemble the candy bar quite a bit, and was pretty much dessert in a cup.

Almond Joy mocha: infused with coconut and almond, $4.95

We decided to order one item each from the “Breakfast” and “Between the Bread” sections of the menu – everything looked so good, and we had a pretty hard time deciding.  In the end, we went with the steak hash and the short rib sandwich.

Steak hash: wild mushrooms, red onion, fire-roasted peppers, two poached eggs, chive-chervil creme fraiche, $14

The hash was awesome!!  I couldn’t decide what was my favorite component – the eggs were perfectly poached, almost like the soft-boiled eggs that I love in Japanese ramen (糖心蛋).  If I could use only one word to describe this, it’d be “rustic”.  All the ingredients – potatoes, beef, peppers, even the creme fraiche – worked really well together to create a hearty, delicious dish.  My only bone to pick is that the bread was a bit over-toasted, but other than that, it is perfect.

Short rib sandwich: beer-braised short ribs, pickled onion, mango chutney, & Asian slaw on roasted pepper bread, served with French fries, $14

The short rib sandwich was a completely different style than the steak hash.  The flavors were distinctly Asian, with the mango chutney and sesame vinaigrette(?) slaw.  The meat itself was tender, the bread was nicely toasted, and the meat-to-bread ratio was just perfect – you could get everything in one bite.  The French fries were brown and crispy, my favorite.

Overall, I loved my meal.  The entire experience was excellent, from the service to the atmosphere to the food.  One of the reasons that we enjoyed the food so much was perhaps because the flavors were rich but not overly heavy, and it reminded me of some of the Southern fusion food that I miss so much.  (Sk pointed out that it’s like Watt’s Grocery in Durham – one of my favorite restaurants!)  I will definitely be back for brunch again, and/or try their lunch and dinner sometime!

What is your favorite brunch spot in San Diego?  Will you be giving Kitchen 4140 a try? (Because you totally should!)

Kitchen 4140
4140 Morena Blvd., San Diego, CA
(858) 483-4140
http://www.kitchen4140.com

Hours
Mon-Fri:  11am-3pm
Wed-Fri:  5pm-9pm
Sun:  9am-2pm