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Oakland Brunch (with baby) - Aunt Mary's now too crowded

p
peterme Jan 10, 2010 12:44 PM

So, Aunt Mary's was our go-to brunch spot, but after today, waiting ~30-40 minutes for a table, and then another 30-40 minutes for our food, we need to look elsewhere. (It's distressing that we had to wait so long to eat. It seems their kitchen can't handle their seating capacity. Thankfully, the food is still good.)

Racking my brain, I could think where else we could get a quality brunch, and where it's large enough that high chairs aren't an issue. We'd prefer not straying too far from Rockridge/Temescal. And to not wait more than 15 minutes (which rules out Brown Sugar Kitchen and Venus in Berkeley, which we haven't bothered even trying to go to with out 16 month old).

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Aunt Mary's Cafe
4307 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

  1. daveena Jan 10, 2010 12:55 PM

    Camino's my current favorite East Bay brunch spot, and they take reservations. I haven't seen any high chairs, but I'd be surprised if they didn't have them.

    1. a
      abstractpoet Jan 10, 2010 12:58 PM

      Our favorite brunch spot is Sunny Side in Albany, but it's not a particularly big room--I wonder if their new Berkeley location is any bigger. In any case, we've never waited more than 15 minutes or so at the Solano location.

      Another good place for brunch is T-Rex, and we've never had to wait there.

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      T-Rex Barbeque
      1300 10th St, Berkeley, CA 94710

      Sunny Side Cafe
      1499 Solano Ave, Albany, CA 94706

      3 Replies
      1. re: abstractpoet
        b
        bunnysitter Jan 10, 2010 03:02 PM

        Two doors away from Sunnyside Cafe on Solano is Bistro 1451 (formerly Walker's PieShop).
        I've enjoyed the organic pear pancakes. eggs benedict and beef short rib hash. It's a sunny, warm room with yellow tones and usually not crowded. It's family friendly and roomy enough for high chairs. The food is solid and the owner/cook pays attention to presentation.

        1. re: bunnysitter
          o
          oaktowngirl Jan 13, 2010 08:02 PM

          We like this place for a low key brunch. Never crowded, decent food, nice room. I am surprised (and worried) that they don't have more business. Maybe at dinner? Our problem has been that brunch on weekends often doesn't start until 10:30 or 11. I am headed for lunch at that point! We loved Aunt Mary's, are happy they are doing well, but would like suggestions for places open before 10. (Tired of Doyle Street Cafe and Venus.)

        2. re: abstractpoet
          a
          abstractpoet Apr 23, 2011 02:43 PM

          After today's visit (our first one in a long while), I'm going to have to take back my T-Rex brunch recommendation. The food, at least at brunch, has gone seriously downhill. We used to love getting an order of their beignets to share -- it'd come with this decadent, but not too sweet, dipping sauce: whipped cream, with a really tasty coffee-infused custard that you had to dig for underneath. Now the beignets are served with a cloyingly sweet "caramel" sauce (tasted like frosting, basically) with the gimmicky addition of bits of bacon. Terrible.

          My go-to brunch order was the hangtown fry, and that's no longer on the menu. Another disappointment. So I got the eggs benedict. Poached eggs were fine, but the Hollandaise tasted overly sour to me. The breakfast potatoes on the side were soft and pretty cold. Didn't bother finishing them. Portion size wasn't particularly large for a $12 plate, and the dominant feature on that plate was some big hunks of assorted fruit (cantaloupe, pineapple) that I didn't particularly want with my breakfast to begin with.

          My wife had a spinach omelette, which she said was fine but nothing special. Same cold, soggy potatoes.

          With so many better brunch options in the area, I don't think we'll be back.

        3. k
          kittyjoyjoy Jan 10, 2010 01:14 PM

          i love Aunt Mary's myself but I agree, way too crowded. Sunny Side in Albany is also super crowded. They are a bit stickler about not seating you until your whole party is there.

          May want to try Lynn & Lu's Escapade Cafe on Grand Ave near Lake Merrit. It's right off the freeway, parking is moderately easy and the food comes extremely fast. They are very efficient and friendly. Two very important criteria for myself. May be nice with a small child if the service was fast. Never had to wait for a table and the food was tasty. The atmosphere is a little grungy but gives off a family-owned, home-style-cooking vibe.

          1 Reply
          1. re: kittyjoyjoy
            a
            abstractpoet Jan 10, 2010 03:53 PM

            The breakfasts at Lynn & Lu's are solid, but the menu isn't particularly exciting or varied. That said, I've enjoyed my meals there and the service is very friendly.

            Another option is Cafe M, on 4th St. in Berkeley. Good benedicts and corned beef hash. Can get a little bit crowded on weekends, but not nearly as much as Bette's down the street. I often see lots of families with kids there.

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            Cafe M
            1799 4th St, Berkeley, CA 94710

            Lynn & Lu's Escapade Cafe
            3353 Grand Ave, Oakland, CA 94610

          2. m
            Munching Mark Jan 10, 2010 04:25 PM

            If Adesso is open, try that...it's a favorite of mine on Saturday afternoons; light and quiet and economical and you can plenty of room, normally...maybe there?

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            Adesso
            4395 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA

            1 Reply
            1. re: Munching Mark
              Mission Jan 10, 2010 06:56 PM

              How about the hidden treasure:

              Café Aquarius

              1298 65th St
              (at Hollis St)
              Emeryville, CA 94608

            2. a
              ajb1200 Jan 11, 2010 12:58 AM

              Jimmy Beans in Bezerkley is the best place for breakfast. They are fast and the food is top notch. They have the best buttermilk pancakes. I have eaten breakfast all over and this is by far the best place in the eastbay. I thought Aunt Mary's was way overrated. Too long of a wait and service is poor.

              1 Reply
              1. re: ajb1200
                myst Jan 11, 2010 07:15 AM

                When juggling a hungry baby waiting for table and food can be pretty tricky. Most places don't have a horrible wait before 9AM, but if you are at peak brunch times it can be very bad. Jimmy Beans is a little too self-service for me (I have 17 month old). Hob Nob in Alameda never seems to have a wait and is very child friendly. I love Fat Lady in Oakland, but I go early. They have great hotcakes and corned beef hash. My son also loves dim sum and we go to East Ocean in Alameda.

              2. lexdevil Jan 11, 2010 07:01 AM

                Taco Grill in the Fruitvale serves breakfast. There are a few pancakes, eggs, bacon, etc. on the menu. They are open from 10 AM Monday-Saturday. Don't know how good the breakfast items are, but I'm going to have a 10 AM meeting there this morning, so I'll report back. I can, however, vouch for the pozole.

                Another option is any of the places that take reservations for breakfast. This includes Camino, Citron, Lake Chalet, Sea Salt, and Somerset on Saturdays. You can add Pican to the list on Sundays. Corso also does a great brunch on weekends, but it doesn't open until 11:30 (reservations are available).

                5 Replies
                1. re: lexdevil
                  r
                  roster Jan 11, 2010 08:28 AM

                  Brown Sugar in West Oakland.
                  Great cornmeal waffles!

                  1. re: roster
                    lexdevil Jan 11, 2010 08:41 AM

                    Agreed, but long waits on weekends. Weekdays, no problem.

                    1. re: lexdevil
                      JasmineG Jan 11, 2010 09:21 AM

                      Brown Sugar Kitchen has really long waits, and pretty scattered service.

                      1. re: lexdevil
                        m
                        ML8000 Jan 11, 2010 01:48 PM

                        It's interesting no one mentioned weekends until now. Just about any decent brunch place is going to be crowded on the weekends. That's how it works. I have to guess if it's kid friendly the line starts earlier then the usual 10-11 a.m. hipster brunch call.

                        Any way, another option is Meal Ticket. Good breakfast and lunches with a few twists and quality ingredients. Seems comparable to Aunt Mary's. I've never had brunch there on the weekend so I have no idea about the crowd/waits. They do have a patio in the back which is nice.

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                        Meal Ticket
                        1235 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94706

                    2. re: lexdevil
                      lexdevil Jan 11, 2010 12:38 PM

                      I was happy to find that I could have my usual tasty pozole at Taco Grill for breakfast! They start cooking at 6:00 AM.

                    3. wolfe Jan 11, 2010 01:59 PM

                      As long as everyone wants to drag you out of Temescal I might as well throw in Flavah Island Cafe. Small but as yet uncrowded, not sure if they have highchair.
                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6551....

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                      Flavah Island Cafe
                      2057 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702

                      1. Mission Jan 13, 2010 08:24 PM

                        I would go to Café Aquarius in Emeryville.

                        A hidden treasure.

                        Owned by a Local Husband and Wife with small children.

                        Why this place does not get more local praise is beyond me.

                        If i was a breakfast person I would be there 3-4 times a week.

                        Twice as good as Brown Sugar Cafe,better neighborhood,parking and lower prices.

                        Needless to say the service is 10 times better too.

                        1298 65th St
                        (at Hollis St)
                        Emeryville, CA 94608
                        (510) 655-2782

                        1. a
                          Allfrog68 Jan 13, 2010 10:10 PM

                          I'm a fan of Rudy's for kids. Waits can be long. Service & food is usually good. Love the decor & people watching.

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                          Rudy's Can't Fail Cafe
                          4081 Hollis St, Emeryville, CA 94608

                          1. a
                            abstractpoet Apr 10, 2010 02:34 PM

                            I just had a fantastic brunch at Sea Salt. They had some slightly higher-end items on the menu today that looked pretty darned appealing, but we couldn't pass up on the $11 brunch specials--a choice among five (mostly egg-based) dishes that seem to vary from week to week--which ended up being quite a good deal.

                            My wife had the biscuits and gravy, which came with a tasty fennel sausage gravy and two sunny side up eggs. Even better was my mixed mushroom scramble: eggs that were perfectly seasoned and perfectly cooked; a delicious mix of wild mushrooms, spring onion, and parsley; and crisp brunch potatoes on the side. One of the better egg dishes I've had in recent memory.

                            We also shared a house-baked chocolate croissant ($3), which was above average. Nice and buttery with a generous slab of chocolate inside, though the croissant itself could have been more crisp. Still better than a lot of purported French bakeries in the area.

                            I figured I'd add a report on Sea Salt to this thread (though I know it was mentioned once already). While--being a tad more frou-frou than some of these other recs--it's not the first place that comes to mind as kid-friendly, it does have the distinct advantage of taking reservations. Actually, we were surprised to see that the restaurant was nearly empty at around noon on a Saturday.

                            In any case, after our great meal today, I'm bumping Sea Salt up close to the top of the list for a more upscale brunch in the East Bay that's still relatively easy on the wallet.

                            -----
                            Sea Salt
                            2512 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94702

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: abstractpoet
                              escargot3 Apr 10, 2010 03:17 PM

                              Thanks for the post. I've enjoyed dinner at Sea Salt -- and amazing cocktails. But it's great to know there's a good resto that takes reservations for brunch. What a welcomed change to the goofy brunch culture that deems it acceptable if the longer you wait, the better the location.

                              -----
                              Sea Salt
                              2512 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94702

                              1. re: escargot3
                                a
                                abstractpoet Apr 10, 2010 03:44 PM

                                Yup. As mentioned, Camino also takes reservations for brunch. Two very different types of brunch menus, but in this respect I'd put Camino and Sea Salt in the same category: super high-quality, interesting brunch fare that--given the quality--is actually quite reasonably priced.

                                -----
                                Sea Salt
                                2512 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94702

                              2. re: abstractpoet
                                The Dive Apr 12, 2010 10:53 AM

                                When the weather is nice, I have seen a lot of strollers on the patio at Sea Salt for brunch/lunch. It actually works pretty well for kids (can't confirm if they have high chairs).

                                -----
                                Sea Salt
                                2512 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94702

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