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Laguna Brunch - Nirvana Grill or Sundried Tomato Cafe or something else?

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Hubbie & I are coming from LA to meet my dad & step-mom in Laguna for brunch on Saturday. After searching the board I think I've narrowed it down to Nirvana Grill or Sundried Tomato Cafe. Any thoughts?

Big catch is that my dad will have his 2 sheepdogs with him - so it needs to be dog friendly.

Thanks in advance!

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  1. So where did you end up? I actually tried the Sundried Tomato Cafe for the first time and it was OK, but not very brunch like. Better for the late lunch we had, and probably dinner. Worth a repeat try since I live in OC, but not a special drive down.

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    Sundried Tomato Cafe
    31781 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675

    8 Replies
    1. re: ocshooter

      We actually ended up at The Golden Truffle (in Newport - I know, random) and, for the most part, the food was good, but the location was horrible and the service was lacking. And I wish I had known in advance that they only had breakfast items (and not that many) on the menu. We planned to go to Nirvana Grill, but when I called to see if they allowed dogs on the patio they said no. So the person I talked to highly recommended The Golden Truffle. Clearly, I should have done better research in advance - like check out the location which the patio was basically in a parking lot on a busy road.

      3 out of 4 dishes were hits - and the winner on everyone's plate was the potatoes (almost like a gratin). My dish was the dud. This is the THIRD time I have ordered poached eggs and they have come out fried and over-easy!!!!! I did say something to the server this time and he seemed surprised and confused - almost as if the eggs on my plate were really poached -- saying something like "Oh, I can see if they can make you poached eggs."

      We ordered a round of drinks (2 mimosas and 1 bloody Mary) and we were never once offered another round nor was our water ever refilled. The waiter pretty much disappeared after dropping off the food.

      They treated the dogs nice at least - brought a big bowl of water with ice for them.

      Here is my recent review of The Farm -- and my un-Poached eggs:

      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7231...

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      Golden Truffle
      1767 Newport Blvd., Costa Mesa, CA 92627

      1. re: Obessed

        It's odd that you've received fried rather than poached three times. My biggest complaint is that restaurant cooks apparently don't eat poached eggs themselves. Anyone who did would never send them out in little bowls that contain so much of the poaching water that you have to drain them into your empty orange-juice glass, coffee-cup saucer, or napkin.

        1. re: Obessed

          I wish you had mentioned you were open to suggestions. Golden Truffle is certainly in an odd location, but Break of Dawn has excellent brunch options, fantastic food, and a nicer (though still a strip mall with no view) patio that allows dogs. And they actually poach their eggs when indicated. If you are looking for an OC breakfast spot in the future, check it out.

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          Break of Dawn
          24351 Avenida De La Carlota Ste N6, Laguna Hills, CA 92653

          Golden Truffle
          1767 Newport Blvd., Costa Mesa, CA 92627

          1. re: ocshooter

            Agree that Break of Dawn would have been a much better choice...although I don't believe they serve cocktails (perhaps beer and wine). Another dog-friendly place in Laguna is Cafe Zinc, which has some nice breakfast items. My favorite brunch spot in Laguna is the Coyote Cafe (or Grill) in S. Laguna. Excellent Mexican style breakfast and drinks...with a view...but, I'm not sure about dogs.

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            Break of Dawn
            24351 Avenida De La Carlota Ste N6, Laguna Hills, CA 92653

            1. re: josephnl

              No dogs at Coyote, since there is only the back patio, but I like it as well. Zinc is good, especially if you are with folks with a healthier mind set.

              Break of Dawn has beer and wine, and Ithink that they do Soju cocktails, but not 100%.

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              Break of Dawn
              24351 Avenida De La Carlota Ste N6, Laguna Hills, CA 92653

            2. re: ocshooter

              I was open to suggestions - in the topic header I said "...or something else." Perhaps wasn't clear enough. In any case,thanks for these suggestions. I will certainly keep them in mind for future visits to the area.

              1. re: ocshooter

                ocshooter, I went to Break of Dawn for the first time last week and didn't care for most of what I had. The flavors in the crispy lobster and shrimp roll were muddled, dull, and very unappealing, as were those in the mac and cheese with eggs dish, which also had badly overcooked macaroni. I quickly reached the point where I didn't want any more. However, the cinnamon roll was delicious, service was cordial, and I really liked the Key West/Galveston feel of the high-ceilinged room.

                I won't form a final opinion without at least one more visit, but I was surprised by the experience, given the wide enthusiasm for the place. Did I order exactly the wrong thing? What are some of the dishes you've enjoyed there?

                1. re: hnsbmg

                  I really like the smoked salmon, and I have had one of the sausage dishes - duck I think - that was also good. I don't eat pork, so anything from the procine side of the animal kingdom hasn't been had. I will say that the omelet my mom had one time was a bit runny, so I would skip that one. I've seen and smelled the mac & cheese, and it looks like a lovely gooey heart attack in a bowl, but I stick to the breakfast type dishes there.

                  I am surprised that the crustaceans were not to your liking, but I gave up those critters as well a decade + back, so I have not tried them either. In general, I find the flavors pretty bright and the sauces well balanced. I know BOD is a board fav., so hopefully a few others can chime in with menu suggestions.