Aunt Mary's Cafe- Temescal [Oakland]
I checked out the newly opened Aunt Mary's Cafe today at 43rd/Telegraph and Oakland. They have a really appealing menu (http://www.auntmaryscafe.com). We sat outside on the little patio facing Telegraph. Coffee was good, service very friendly and attentive. The brought us some little fried sweet things (can't remember what they were called), sort of like fried rice pudding dusted with sugar, as a free treat.
My friend had Huevos Divorciados (eggs on beans with salsa and tortilla strips). The salsa was homemade (two kinds) and delicious....my friend loved the dish and ate with gusto. I had a waffle and bacon. The bacon was fine, but the waffle was kinda underdone, so I didn't eat the whole thing. The waitress asked me if I hadn't liked it, and I told her it was a little undercooked (not crispy). The owner came over and apologized, and told me he wasn't going to charge me anything for my breakfast (even though I said there was no need- I understand that everything isn't perfect yet, and my food was ok) and said he appreciated the feedback, it's only day 4 and they're working out the kinks. So he didn't charge me for my breakfast.
Anyway, I think there's real potential there. The owner seems like a really cool guy who is committed to a quality neighborhood place. They also have a nice kid's menu- the owner has a 9 year old daughter and is very kid friendly. Like I said, the service was great, the place is comfortable, and they have some yummy looking stuff on the menu. They're only open for breakfast and lunch at the moment.
We took a walk and got some ice cream at Tara's on College. They have molasses ice cream right now that is soooo good. The black sesame was delicious too.
Today I returned to AMC and had the Southern Bubble and Squeak for breakfast. It was a lot of potato mixed with finely chopped greens and fried crispily, lightly sauced with gravy, with two eggs (any style, but I had scrambled), a side of greens, and a biscuit. It was sooooo good. The greens on the side were just the right non-overcooked consistency, slightly spicy. The potato/egg stack was the perfect marriage of protein and carb. A lot of food (I took 1/2 of it home), but not an insane portion. $9, I think.
I give it six thumbs up. OK, I only have two.
Tried it yesterday for a late lunch and had the chicken fried steak. This is not for purists -- it's served with a beer gravy instead of the usual cream-based. At first bite, I found it too zingy (yeasty?), but then I got used to it. Crust was very crisp, with cornmeal, and seasoning very peppery. The steak itself was cooked a little less than CFS usually is, and a little red leaked from the middle. Not a problem for me as I like it rare (and this was not by any means rare). Pretty good stuff, and I appreciated that it was a reasonable portion and not the vast he-man portions you often get of this country classic. Also that it was served with a healthy dose of green salad with their ginger-rice wine vinaigrette. The biscuit had this oddly rustic, rough exterior (more cornmeal??) but was light and tasty.
I got in just before closing and ended up being the last customer there, but service was very friendly and didn't rush me at all. The space is larger than I had pictured, very airy inside, with that warehouse-modern look, and patio seating in front.
I just got back from a very tasty brunch at Aunt Mary's. I also had the Southern Bubble and Squeak for breakfast (I was deciding between that and the sweet potato waffles on the brunch menu), and it was completely delicious. I was a little skeptical about this dish (I wasn't sure how I'd feel about the greens on the side, and I'm generally not a fan of gravy on breakfast dishes), but the waiter's eyes lit up when I asked him about what the potato cakes were like, so I gave it a shot. The potato cakes were great, with just enough crunch to the outside, good flavor to the potatoes, and the greens mixed in were a great note. I meant to ask for the gravy on the side, but forgot, and I'm glad that I did -- the flavor was really tasty, but it was still light, and it blended well with my eggs over easy that were on top of the potato cakes. The biscuit was great, too, both with some of the gravy and with the Blue Chair jams that they serve.
The service was really friendly and helpful -- my food was taking a long time coming out, but my waiter came over (before I asked) to apologize and explain that they had gotten a lot of orders at the same time, said that mine would be out shortly, and asked if I wanted some juice on the house while I waited, which was a really nice touch.
I really enjoyed my breakfast here, and I'd rank it above a lot of the other breakfast places in the East Bay. My only complaint is that the glass front makes the restaurant pretty cold inside (especially in December), but next time I'll come in more bundled up. Thanks, ace, for talking about this place, I'll definitely be returning soon. I wish I had grabbed one of those pastries at the front on the way out the door!
Glad you liked it, JasmineG. I am diligently working my way through their pastries. I went for breakfast last Friday and the baker had made "French Muffins" - they were unbelievably delicious. Delicate, not very sweet muffin, with a crispy sugar and cinnamon top. The muffin top reminded me of a perfectly fried donut. Anyway, if you see one of these babies at AMC, grab it.
I went back to Aunt Mary's yesterday, this time getting the biscuits and sausage gravy for brunch (which comes with two eggs, I had mine over easy). Delicious, fantastic, I wish I was eating it again right now. The biscuits (which are potato and cheese) were huge and great, and perfect for sopping up the egg and the gravy and the little sausage bits in the gravy. I've never understood the appeal of biscuits and gravy until I had the gravy here. I can't wait to have it again, though I promised myself that next time I go I'll get something with the potatoes, because they came to a table next to mine and looked crunchy and browned and everything that I love about home fries. It again took a little while for my food to come out (the place was almost full while I was there) but they brought me a beignet (or rice fritter?) while I was waiting, which was a nice touch. This time I had a mocha, which was very tasty. This place is rapidly becoming my favorite breakfast spot in the East Bay.
my favorite dish here so far is (by far) the red flannel hash. it does not have any corned beef (which is good, cause i'm a vegetarian) but instead a great combo of potatoes, beets, and other root vegetables. the gravy on top is sooooo good and the yolky poached eggs make it truly delicious.
today i tried the buttermilk pie, which i have never eaten before anywhere and it did not disappoint. it's a cheese-cakey kind of texture and the crust was nummers.
I had dinner at Aunt Mary's for the fourth time tonight, and it was stellar. Started with hushpuppies, which were absolutely fried to perfection. Then a Brutus salad, with oyster caesar dressing, which was also delicious. Could've used a tad more dressing, but what there was was very flavorful. Then shrimp and grits with goat cheese, which was so delicious I could've rolled in it- perfect filling dish for this rainy weather. My friend had pork pozole with a goat cheese cake, and pronounced it delicious. We shared bread pudding with whiskey sauce, which was studded with just the right number of raisins, so good! The upshot- AMC has hit its dinner stride. Last time I went I had the "cats and dogs," which is fried catfish and hushpuppies, and it was the best fried catfish I ever had. I'm so glad this friendly place is in my neighborhood.
the pork pozole with goat cheese cake is wonnnderful. (Tho don't make the mistake of getting the goat cheese cake alone as I once did--needs the damp and spice of the pozole.) best of all is the buttermilk pie. BUTTERMILK PIE!! creamy, tangy, delicious. The cinnamon buns are excellent, too.
I met friends for dinner at Sahn Maru and walked by Aunt Mary's remembering it from these posts. After 20 courses of kalbi and black goat stew and seafood pancake and somewhat hapless neglectful service, I convinced my very slender friend that we did not need to stand in line at Barlata for a drink when we could check out dessert next door at Aunt Mary's.
And am I glad we did. Despite being very full, we shared a slice of buttermilk pie and a tower of lemon chiffon blackberry cake, topped with lemon curd. These were two of the best desserts I've had all year. And I don't like pie. Fluffy texture. Tangy buttermilk. Airy cake, just sweet enough, fresh unadorned blackberries. As our server said, they don't mess around with dessert.
Service is warm, welcoming, and attentive. At $5 and $7, desserts were not cheap, but they could easily have fed four of us. Now to come up with an excuse to go back soon. Another six thumbs up.
Just got back from a really good dinner at Aunt Mary's Cafe. My boyfriend and I were craving hush puppies and were about to head over to Angeline's when we remembered AMC has them on their dinner menu. We started with the hush puppies which were light and perfectly fried. They came with nice, spicy remoulade. I had the shrimp and grits with tabasco cream gravy and goat cheese. On my first bite I thought the dish was a little underseasoned, with the next bite I got a little bit of goat cheese and all of the flavors came together really nicely. I though eating the whole bowl might get a little monotonous but I finished the whole thing and could have eaten more. My boyfriend got the oyster po' boy with red onion rings. I didn't try it but he really enjoyed it. I did try one on the onion rings which was nicely fried and without a really heavy, greasy batter (it looked like it might have been dredged in just egg and cornmeal). We finished things off with a delicious slice of buttermilk pie.
The service was really efficient and friendly. The dining room had been mostly empty when we walked in around 7:15 pm, but was starting to fill up as we were leaving. I hope their evenings get busier and compel them to serve dinner more than just Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.
Just a side note, on the website it says they have BYOB and no corkage at dinner.
Loved brunch this morning. I had sweet corn and bacon waffle and my friend had the pain perdu. The presentation of his plate was awe inspiring, soaked until custardy and browned lengths of baguette upright standing on end. The sauces for each order hit just the right tone, lightly sweet but not too much.
We went for brunch and loved it (ricotta pancakes with carmelized grilled peach) and came back for dinner. Well, we've gone about six times now and have really enjoyed it. The hush puppies are delicious and they do some wonderful salads and sides -- think perfectly cooked veggies, down home potatoes, Point Reyes Bleu on the iceberg wedge (yeah, it's been done, but it fits the menu here and the Point Reyes is fab) etc. For mains, I stand by the meat loaf as one of the better I have had. Seriously tasty and comforting. Also the chicken fried steak -- LOVE beer gravy.
I've also taken note that they have had a handful of events supporting neighborhood nonprofits like a local newspaper and animal organization. Very cool.
Service is consistent and friendly and one of the owners has stopped by a few times to check in.
Buttermilk pie is decadent and not to be missed for folks who want something so tasty and so Southern.
Anyone eaten here recently? I just saw a feature on it on "Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives" and I have to admit that the southern "bubble and squeak" and the Pain Perdu both appealed to me. It is, after all, in a neighborhood that would make it a good pre-game (Cal) breakfast if the crowds weren't overwhelming.....
Had bfast there yesterday (Sat). Happy to report that food is still excellent. Hadn't been in a while bc of crowds but this time I got in a little after 9a and the place was only half full. However by 930 sharp they were full and people waiting. So that's the sweet spot if you can rise early enough. Had the shrimp and grits w Benton's bacon on top. Nice and loose grits w tasty Tabasco gravy, 4-5 plump shrimp and a generous sprinkle of bacon (I don't recall them serving Benton's so bonus if this is new). Large bowl, enough left for lunch, $12. Many other appealing southwestern menu choices, some new some old.
Looks like they're no longer serving dinner.
A friend and I dropped in for lunch and really enjoyed it -- I can't believe it took me almost four years (but then, I don't go out for brunch much, and when I do it's usually dim sum).
She had the mac and cheese -- creamy and cheddary with veggies on top to dispel some of the guilt.
I had the chorizo scramble (Niman beef chorizo, eggs, roasted peppers and a crumble of goat cheese) that was excellent. I like having a choice of sides with the egg dishes (I had the buttermilk biscuit and fresh fruit), and the quality of the sides make them a good value.
We must be the only people in Oakland who don't like this place. We prefer Mama's Royal/Oakland or Royal Cafe/Albany. If we go Southern (rarely) we go to Brown Sugar Kitchen although their service is iffy (waitresses with attitudes can ruin a good breakfast in more ways than one).
Our take on AMC last year:
I ordered the Hangtown fry-tatta, fried oysters atop eggs scrambled with bacon and spinach, along with a side order of cornbread. Spouse ordered the Po' boyster sandwich, fried oysters in a bread roll, which comes with onion rings. He also got a side order of mac'n'cheese.
Sadly, we didn't like their batter on either the onion rings – a thick heavy flour batter – or the oysters, which had a too-crunchy, too hard cornmeal batter. Both lacked salt, making them relatively tasteless. The roll itself was tasty, but we felt there was too much of it, and the slaw was very coarsely shredded, so everything fell apart when he tried to eat it open-faced.
The mac'n'cheese was creamy but not particularly cheesy, with grated cheddar sprinkled on top and then grilled for a little bit of crustiness. Some diced vegetables and a dollop of cooked collard greens topped the bowl off. It's adequate, but not to the level of Pican/Oakland or the late Levende East.
The Hangtown fry-tatta was one of the more indigestible egg creations I've encountered. The same too crunchy-oysters along with strips (not rings) of onions in the same crunchy batter topped a large solid mass of cheap salty bacon, tasteless spinach, and unsalted eggs fried hard and brown. I don't approve of eggs with a brown crust – it means they've been cooked at too high heat – so the generous serving was wasted on me; I left at least a third of it. It was cooked dry, and that's not how I like my eggs.
The cornbread was the unsweetened kind – traditional in the South, reviled in the North – served with honey and the saltiest butter I've had in a while. It was clearly housemade and would have been all right if they hadn't burned the crust, which had gone from desirable golden brown too far into brownish-black. The coffee, both regular and decaf, was strong and a decent quality.
We go out for breakfast quite often (we're retired, foodies, and have a lot of discretionary income) and even now, we can list the places that do a great breakfast on one hand. Aunt Mary's isn't one of them.
Our opinion is clearly in the minority; the dining room was crowded and as we left at 1p, there were at least half a dozen names on the wait list as people milled around waiting for a seat. But overall, we found the food was a little too sloppy in execution and too dull-tasting to deserve a return visit. Spouse said the food here reminded him of Army food, and that was not intended as a compliment, LOL.
Hadn't been for a long time. Can't imagine why.
Stopped by this week and had Bubble and Squeak, which must be the best breakfast/brunch dish in the Bay Area.
That huge mound of perfectly cooked and seasoned greens, a bed of potatoes that were crispy on the outside and tender inside, on which are nestled poached eggs (you can have whatever style you want, but I think poached are best, as the yolks ooze out w/ the first cut, and a gravy that pulls it all together--also included, one of their deletable biscuits--and a pot of wonderful jam that looked to be made w/ wild blueberries, not too sweet, just right.
I definitely was a member of the "clean plate club."