Doodle counterpart? Not quite, but how about some ramen with your eggs?

Ikes inside

One of my favorite breakfast spots/greasy spoons ever has to still be New Haven’s late Yankee Doodle (a Yale landmark, which the University sadly couldn’t save). Whenever I move to a new city (or sometimes even when I visit one), a part of me is still looking for its counterpart. When I arrived at Art’s in the heart of San Francisco’s Sunset district, I thought I could have at long last found it.

From first glance, Art’s had the right level of greasiness, a single row of counter-top seats, a large-open griddle, and it came at the recommendation of a fellow Elm City transplant and former Doodle lover.

Unfortunately, Art’s didn’t quite live up to my Doodle-esque expectations, but I did have an enjoyable (and maybe more importantly) reasonably priced breakfast. After the fact, my friend told me that I should have ordered something called a “hash-brown sandwich,” which I’m pretty certain I saw someone nearby eating, but didn’t know what I was looking at the time.

Ikes food

I did get some of the interestingly shaped “potato-stix” type hashbrowns, the same patty that I now know is often used to make a delicious sounding sandwich. However, the corned beef hash I ordered left a little something to be desired (it consisted more of potatoes than much actual corned beef.)

For a quick, cheap breakfast, Art’s was perfect and held me over for my exploration of Dolore’s Park when I headed to the Mission after filling up.

On an interesting (and somewhat funny side-note, at least to me). Art’s is owned and operated by a Korean family, who serve not only traditional breakfast fare Ramen 2 (eggs and bacon etc.), but also Ramen. I never would have know this, had I not noticed the Asian gentleman seated next to me get served a steaming hot bowl of noodle-filled soup with his coffee. I don’t know whether this would be my idea of the ideal meal at 11am on a weekday, but hey, I probably shouldn’t knock it until I’ve tried it.

Birthday Brunching at Q

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On my second breakfast trip to Clement Street, my crew passed by Q Brunch, deciding that it was a little much for what they were looking for at the time (really just bagels and coffee). However, I looked over the menu and decided it was worth a visit.

Luckily on Sunday, my breakfast companion, who was in town to celebrate her birthday (a celebration she recounted as one of her best ever) was down to try it. Unlike some other birthday brunchers, who were downing Mimosa’s and Bloody Mary’s at 10am, we were past celebrating and onto recovering by that point.

After my less than stellar hash at Art’s, I was hesitant to try it at Q, but I wanted to give hash on the West Coast a second chance. I’m certainly glad that I did. Image

Rather than the hash that tasted more like extra salty and crispy potato strings the last time, what I was served instead contained a plentiful helping of large chunks of well-cooked corned beef. Also, the poached eggs were perfectly cooked (actually the first time my breakfast date had ever actually had poached eggs).

As usual, the breakfast potatoes weren’t really distinguishable from the hash; however, they mixed in nicely enough. Even though the hash wasn’t as crispy as I’ve come to enjoy, the meat was great and the potatoes were what I’ve gotten used to. Overall, I’d definitely give Q Brunch another go around. Image

Good “Eats” in The Richmond

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In my first two days in San Francisco staying in the Richmond neighborhood, I’ve eaten the majority of my meals on Clement St. 

I can’t complain about this though, because I’ve had two tremendous meals so far. I arrived last night and after not eating much throughout the day, I was starving and probably would’ve eaten just about anything. After the Sushi place we planned to visit was closed (they’re weirdly only open 3 days a week), we headed down to Clement where we could see a handful of restaurants within a two block span. We decided upon a Ramen noodle house (I was a little skeptical at first thinking of this type of Ramen, a major staple of my and most folks’ college diets), but it turned out better than I could have imagined. The dish we were served turned out to be much more like this-

 

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and came filled with delicious and tender braised beef, spinach and a wonderful broth. 

Anyway, back to Eats. When I asked my buddy where I should grab breakfast, he sent me right back down to Clement. 

Luckily the place was close and the recommendation turned out to be a good one. 

I strayed from my typical ordering habits and went with an “employee favorite,” (as listed on the chalk board), ‘Zoe’s Bacon & Fried Egg Sandwich’: Arugula, cheddar, tomatoes, spicy aioli, ciabatta and a side of potatoes.  I probably could have done without the Arugula and had them hold the cheddar, but the spicy aioli and deliciously soft and chewy ciabatta were excellent. Image

Also, the bacon was quite good, and it actually made me wish I had gotten a sandwich with sausage on it instead (I got some chicken sausage on the side) and then had the bacon as my side so I could have enjoyed it separately.

Other than the bread, the best part of the meal (other than the expectedly hipster vibe) was probably the side of potatoes. I had to travel all the way to San Francisco to find them, but I think they were the closest thing I’ve found to the amazing home-fries at the Pantry in New Haven (where I’m from, a restaurant I worked at briefly, and probably one of my favorite brunch spots anywhere). I thought I had done a post about it in my previous blog, but I guess not ( I should probably do one here at eventually). 

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The key elements to the pantry’s home-fries (and also those elements that the potatoes at Eats had in common) were the scallions, the small chunks of potato, and probably most importantly the crispy finish. Something about the home-fries at Eats were still lacking in comparison, but it was hard to place. I think it may have been a slight absence of seasoning, but all in all they were pretty great and a welcome reminder of days spent working at the pantry. While there, in order to make up for the rather boring task of peeling potatoes and the other less than glorious tasks required to prepare breakfast foods, the chefs would serve the staff as many potatoes they could eat.

Overall, my second trip down to Clement was well worth it. My only slight complaint might have been the priciness (something just over $20 for breakfast), but I guess that’s SF for you and since I’m on vacation I’m not going to worry about it (at least not until I realized that my next paycheck may be the last one for at least a little while…)

 

 

“Rosebud…”

After trekking to Davis Square for the second freezing morning in a row for an early physical therapy appointment, I decided to treat myself to some breakfast. I knew of a few good spots around Somerville, but none of them in the heart of Davis. Fortunately, smart phones and Yelp exist. After quickly scanning several independent online sources for “best diner,” and “best breakfast” in the immediate area, I concluded that the Rosebud Diner was the way to go.

 As soon as I came around the corner, I liked what I saw- your classic, lunch-car look.

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The atmosphere and feel inside matched perfectly. The small establishment was complete with a long counter-top, several cozy booths, an old fashioned mechanical cash-register, and interestingly a fully stocked bar. This feature piqued my curiosity about what the late-night scene, fueled by booze and perhaps music would look like.

 With my choice of seats, I situated myself at the counter along with a few other mid-morning patrons. The friendly (and elderly) waitress promptly brought over a tall glass of ice water and a weak coffee (but it was certainly warm and that was all that mattered to me given the outside temperature).

 In the quick online search I had done, the only menu item I saw highly touted was the corned beef hash- so my decision was simple. I go through phases of really enjoying hash; however, I had taken a hiatus after being served one of the largest football-sized orders I had ever seen at the 4th Street Deli in Philadelphia.

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I literally felt like I had eaten as much as I could possibly devour, and my boss still took the rest home to feed her dog for the next week.

 With my hash, I got poached eggs, as I try to order things that I can’t or don’t typically make for myself at home (even though I do own an egg poacher, which is hidden somewhere in my kitchen closet).

 The hash came with the typical side fare- toast (which I almost never eat), and homefries (one of the staples to any breakfast I eat, and high on my list for a repeat visit).

 The home fries were good. They certainly weren’t the best I’ve ever had, but they were well seasoned and decently crisp. The hash also wasn’t my favorite, but it had a good balance of salty and sweet and I’d certainly order it again.

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Despite the mostly empty scene I came across today, I gathered that one would find a very different one on a weekend morning, or perhaps even earlier on a weekday. Shortly after I got my food, a group of four girls (likely from Tufts) came in and hovered near the doorway waiting to be told where to sit, presumably because this was the routine they had come to expect on a Saturday or Sunday morning.

“Girls, grab any booth you’d like. We sit wherever we’d like to during the week.” The sole waitress politely shouted from the other end of counter, while tending to someone else.

The old fashioned experience was nicely rounded out when the waitress attempted to swipe a credit card unsuccessfully several times before she gave in and profusely apologized for having to send it’s owner back out into the cold to find an ATM. Luckily I happened to have some cash on me (an increasingly rare occurrence these days.) Interestingly, she didn’t seem too apologetic when she warned the young woman, “cash only today ladies.”

 All in all, some might argue in favor of the more “gourmet” breakfast food that you may find at the likes of my recently visited City Girl Café or the South End’s Masa; however, for me, when it comes to breakfast, I want a diner and the Rosebud certainly ranks up there. 

Meeting “Girls” and making friends in Inman Square

My best friend and current roommate, Drew and I used to meet  almost every weekend for what we liked to casually call our “hangover cure breakfast club.” You can read about some of our old favorites here (The Breakfast Club, Eagles), and others included Masa in the South End, and The Neighborhood Restaurant and Bakrey in Somerville. However, our most recent adventure, City Girl Café, at least solidified its rank in Drew’s heart (and stomach) as his new favorite and even earned his designation as “best in boston.” I’m not sure if I’d make that claim just yet, but I certainly loved the food.

As is to be expected almost anywhere in Greater Boston, there was quite a wait (around 30min), but unlike today, the weather was great, and we worked up an appetite by walking around the center of Inman Square for a bit. We went back before the expected wait time was up, as I’ve known hostesses at small restaurants like City Girl (only 19 seats) to be very quick to give up your spot in line (reminds me of a very funny joke by Gary Gulman, whom I saw recently live with, about giving up your place in line at Trader Joes- will post link shortly) if you’re not eagerly waiting and maybe even more importantly, doing so in her direct line of sight.

Besides guaranteeing our spot in line, Drew preferred our people watching (a favorite pastime of both of ours) options in the crowd of other hungry prospective brunch patrons.

The options included a very interesting-looking May-December couple that perfectly embodied the quintessential “Cambridge Look,” multi-colored scarves and all. Additionally, there was an interesting looking pair of female friends, whom we probably paid more attention to because of their cliché conversation than their looks. Within only a few minutes, we could already pick out the trend-setter and trend-follower within the group. The leader, had the typical look of a hip, Cambridge, short-haired, sexually ambiguous female (Picture Pink with black hair). Whereas the other, could have easily been a poster girl for your ivy league, J-Crew model turned hipster (turned out to be NESCAC, but close) toting her thick-rimmed black frames (which she CLAIMED to actually need for the unlikely purpose of seeing things).

Their conversation quickly transitioned from some recent film culture (the trend-setter recently saw Zero Dark Thirty (high on my to-see list) but found it “too violent,” to one of the most popular TV shows I hear discussed today, whether in line, in a restaurant or on public transportation- Lena Dunham’s Girls. (I used this trend as another answer in my BSS application. When this topic came up, I couldn’t help but laugh and point out the irony to Drew. Luckily they didn’t hear me, as within a few minutes we were seated at a 4-person table directly next to them.

I can’t remember whether it was Drew or I who struck up conversation with them first, but it certainly wasn’t one of them. I’m pretty sure he started with a simple, “have you guys been here before, and if so, what do you have to recommend?” One had and one hadn’t, but didn’t have any quality recommendations. Though, this didn’t matter, because everything on the menu looked great, and I loved my “Spinach, Roasted red pepper & fontina egg sandwich,” served with “roasted red bliss potatoes,” and a hearty side of bacon:

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The girls and Drew all had the “Goat cheese, bacon & carmelized onion egg sandwich,” also served on the same delicious French baguette and with the red bliss potatoes, and they all swore by it:

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I firmly believe that there are so few variables in a Breakfast/Brunch menu, that it is critical to nail those which tend to vary (Potatoes, breads, and meats)- and the City Girl did indeed nail all of these. I’ll admit that I was skeptical when the potatoes came out and they didn’t look as crispy as I usually like. However, they were surprisingly crisp and unbelievably seasoned. Drew’s only complaint about the whole experience may have been the translucent coffee mugs. For some reason, which I don’t quite understand, he doesn’t like seeing his coffee as he drinks it-

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Putting the tremendous food aside, the conversation that went along with it was enjoyable as well. Drew and I both tend to be fairly outgoing, and when we strike up conversations at Brunch, as oppose to over drinks in a loud and/or crowded bar, our approach tends to be less threatening and (usually) more successful. With these girls, when they brought up Girls for a second time (which I would’ve bet money they would) and we indicated that we watch it, we were in. We quickly found out that the “hipster,” had attended Brandeis College, studied abroad in some third world country, and written a blog entitled “A Broad, abroad,” (which I was shocked to discover is not unique (and moreover, there were multiple Brandeis students who had named their blog this). The other, the heavily optically adorned blonde, it turned out had gone to a certain NESCAC school in Maine, the same one in fact where the group of girls we had just spent the previous night partying with had gone. By this point in the conversation, we had all  become somewhat friendly with one other, but then realized that no one had been introduced. Before we had a chance, they blurted out, “no wait, let us guess first!” I quickly became labeled “Brad” one I had never heard before, and a name that I would more associate with a WASPier looking individual. I have a preppy looking appearance and style, but I have fairly dark hair (most likely from the half of my family which belongs to the tribe) and I mostly would picture a stereotypical Brad as a blonde, although that’s just me. Drew on the other hand became “Tanner,” though I really can’t find any explanation for that one and I don’t think they much process behind it either.

We exchanged our real names and numbers on the walk we shared back towards Central Square and Drew and I realized that our friendliness at Brunch and our interest (even if partially feigned) in Girls, earned us two potential new “friends” (though he did make me promise, to keep them as only friends for the time, as we’re seriously lacking in female friends) in Cambridge, to where we have recently relocated.