HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >

Discussion

East Bay Brunches: A little more interesting than straight up diners?

  • d
  • dcfb Feb 12, 2011 02:17 PM
  • 25
  • Share

I've reviewed a good number of brunch and breakfast threads and have been thinking about trying on some new (to me) brunch places in the East Bay. We've been enjoying Aunt Mary's Cafe, La Note, and 900 Grayson on a regular basis and want to add a few more places with tasty, memorable dishes we can't find everywhere. Who's turning out impressive and tasty breakfast and brunch food?

p.s. We also have dim sum and more standard diner food in the rotation. More interested in places like the above. Thanks!

-----
900 Grayson
900 Grayson St, Berkeley, CA 94710

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

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
Posting Guidelines | FAQs | Feedback
Cancel
  1. Camino. Brunch menu here: http://www.caminorestaurant.com/brunc...

    11 Replies
    1. re: lexdevil

      Camino for sure.

      Marzano on Park Blvd. is now offering brunch. I tried it last week; the menu is a slight variation on the usual menu, and very good.

      -----
      Marzano
      4214 Park Boulevard, Oakland, CA 94602

      1. re: lexdevil

        Had an amazing brunch at Camino last weekend.

        Short rib ragu with mashed celery Root and saurkraut was outstanding - a much better brunch experience than the 2 mediocre dinners I've had there.

        1. re: 10foot5

          Wow - that does sound great!

          1. re: sydthekyd

            Okay. I am generally a Camino fan, but we've been there several times for brunch and have taken it out of rotation because of one very BIG shortcoming: the coffee. It's not that it's bad. It's that they serve it in small Duralex Gigogne tumblers that do a terrible job of keeping it hot (some of the other Duralex glasses are better, but c'mon, it's brunch---just get some mugs!) AND they bring the coffee shortly after you order, but the food typically doesn't come for another 10-15 minutes. This means that invariably, the coffee is cold (or gone) by the time the food arrives, so you either have to ante up for another cup (no refills, of course, and it's pricey) or resign yourself to eating sans coffee. I find this silly and frustrating---I'd happily take slightly lesser coffee that was free-flowing, or at least coffee served in a french press that would keep it warmer while you waited. (Sure, you could always ask them to hold it till the food arrived, but one of the enjoyable things about brunch is chatting over coffee while you wait.) The brunch is good, but not enough better than places like Aunt Mary's that it's worth dealing with this frustration.

            Also, I am soooo excited to hear that Marzano is back in the brunch biz! We went regularly before Marzano on College opened, but when they opened the second restaurant, they dropped brunch from both. If the menu is anything like the original, it is definitely worth a trip. Bellanico's, just down the street, is good as well.

            1. re: artemis78

              Camino does not mention much about coffee on their website. Does anyone happen to know who's roasting their coffee?

              I'm curious to know more about the coffee service at all the places mentioned on this list, too - if anyone can share some details - that would be so helpful. Mostly, I want to find out the roaster(s).

              1. re: scarmoza

                http://manseekingcoffee.wordpress.com...

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  Blue Bottle or Four Barrel - Clevered. I'm there!

                  1. re: scarmoza

                    The Blue Bottle cappuccino I had once at Camino was as good as any I've had at Blue Bottle.

                    I find the service at that restaurant to be kind of indifferent generally, but I didn't find the speed of the coffee service to be problematic. And with an espresso drink, I often find myself finishing it off before the food arrives anyway.

                    -----
                    Blue Bottle Cafe
                    66 Mint St, San Francisco, CA 94103

              2. re: artemis78

                I find it interesting that artemis78 has nothing to say about the quality of the coffee served at Camino, seeming more interested in its quantity and temperature. Manseekingcoffee details the extraordinary care that is taken with the quality and preparation of the coffee there, and it seems to me that this should count more than quantity and temperature. Those of us who care about coffee have long complained that many otherwise terrific restaurants have long gotten away with serving wretched coffee. I'd rather have one fresh, carefully prepared cup than multiple refills of coffee that's been left to sit on a hot plate, which is a sure-fire way of destroying it.

                1. re: TopoTail

                  Oh, I have plenty to say about the quality of coffee too---we are hardcore Blue Bottle people and don't really frequent brunch spots where the coffee isn't at least good, if not great! :) The coffee at Camino is excellent (I love their espresso drinks and agree that they are on par with Blue Bottle's own; the drip coffee is also quite good), and I think I noted in my first post that the quality was not the issue. My point was just that many of the other restaurants serving brunch *also* have good or very good coffee, but serve it in ways that are more conducive to brunching. (Honestly, I might even be okay with Camino's approach if it at least arrived with the food, or in a mug or other vessel that would keep it warmer longer.) Very few of the better brunch spots do hot plate coffee---Aunt Mary's might be one of the few, but they turn it over so quickly that it's rarely been a problem there. If the choice were between good coffee but not a lot of it or bad coffee in abundance, I'd be with you entirely. But happily, it isn't. Camino's coffee approach works very well for us at dinner, where I almost always order an after-dinner cappuccino, but it just isn't something that works for us at brunch, a meal where drip coffee is a major player. YMMV.

                  1. re: artemis78

                    I ended up going to Camino for brunch on Saturday and I can see what you mean, artemis78. I didn't even ask about non-espresso drinks but I will ask the next time I'm there. If they offer clevered coffee, I want to know the set-up.
                    I'm not a fan of automatic drip most of the time. I've been to a couple of places in CA that offer bottomless cups of high quality french pressed coffee - this might be along the lines of my favorite coffee with breakfast experiences.
                    My next question might be better suited to a new thread but I always want to know more about places that serve really good coffee with breakfast or brunch. Sea Salt offers Mr. Espresso - so, that's off the list. I don't think I've ever tried McLaughlin Coffee but it's on my list to try at Aunt Mary's. Anyone know about 900 Grayson? What are other places that serve really good coffee with brunch?

        2. Meal Ticket during the warm months is very nice...it has a patio and it has some interesting choices like a trout plate and a bit of a funky edge. A lot of people like Rick and Ann's but there's usually a huge line...sorta of old school compared to 900 Grayson. Also Brown Sugar Kitchen is worth a try.

          -----
          900 Grayson
          900 Grayson St, Berkeley, CA 94710

          Meal Ticket
          1235 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94706

          1 Reply
          1. re: ML8000

            I recently went to Rick & Ann's on a sunday and the wait was tolerable (30 - 45 minutes unlike the >hour wait in many places within San Francisco).

            I had the North East, which is a red flannel hash. I thought it was a very good version of red flannel hash. I really appreciate how the portion is not too big unlike other brunch places and I don't feel weighed down after I finish my meal. My friend ordered biscuits and gravy and the dish was very tasty even though I have never been a biscuit and gravy type of person.

            By the time we ordered, which was around 12:30, they ran out of one of their specials - a lemon pancake (i think it was lemon ricotta pancake, I can't remember).

            -----
            Rick & Ann's Restaurant
            2922 Domingo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94705

          2. Sunny Side Cafe (get the "Alameda"--trust me--or any of the weekend specials).

            For brunch fare with a pan-Latin twist, try Bocanova, in Jack London Square (Sundays only). If the weather's nice, it's great to side outside and watch the farmers market crowd strolling past.

            Sea Salt also does an excellent (yet often overlooked) brunch. I think the food is at least as good as 900 Grayson's, and there's never a wait. Menu changes every week.

            And 2nd on Camino.

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

            900 Grayson
            900 Grayson St, Berkeley, CA 94710

            Sunny Side Cafe
            1499 Solano Ave, Albany, CA 94706

            Bocanova
            55 Webster Street, Oakland, CA 94607

            2 Replies
            1. re: abstractpoet

              Oh, also Nizza La Bella for killer breakfast pizzas.

              -----
              Nizza La Bella
              827 San Pablo Ave, Albany, CA 94706

              1. re: abstractpoet

                Definitely Nizza la Bella! Great Bloody Marys and Ramos Fizz as well! The Cyclops pizza with the egg is amazing. I also love the steak salad.

            2. Thanks to everyone. I have a few more places to try. We went to Camino this morning and had a delicious brunch. Standouts were thick and custardy french toast with prune and creme fraiche, a pork stew that was earthy and deep, a sparse but appropriately priced sweet condiment plate and savory condiment plate. Would go back again.

              1. Pican's fried chicken Benedict is one of my favorites.

                -----
                Pican Restaurant
                2295 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612

                2 Replies
                1. re: daveena

                  Agreed on that, I love the brunch at Pican. I also enjoy the brunch at Luka's and Sea Salt.

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

                  Pican Restaurant
                  2295 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612

                  1. re: JasmineG

                    Another Camino brunch fan, here. The food is great, as are the drinks.
                    It's just enough "different".

                2. I'm not sure if the menu at Chop Bar fits the bill compared to your usuals but I'm adding it to the list for you to decide. The Eggs ala Cazuela with Grilled Veggie Mojo, at least are delicious and not so common place. They serve single origin coffees from Roast Coffee Co. (individual drip bar)

                  247 4th St
                  Ste 111
                  (between Jackson St & Alice St)
                  Oakland, CA 94607
                  (510) 834-2467
                  www.oaklandchopbar.com

                  1. I was walking by Habanas in Alameda today and noticed they have a "sparkling mojito" brunch. Some interesting choices and $14.95 includes a "sparkling mojito" (sparkling wine version?).

                    http://www.habanasalameda.com/menus/H...

                    -----
                    Habanas
                    1518 Park St, Alameda, CA 94501

                    1. We had a great brunch yesterday at Bellanico on Park Blvd. Camino seemed a little too austere for our party of 6. We all had thoroughly enjoyed our dishes and the menu was pretty varied. A couple of us had the pancetta eggs benedict with hollandaise. Others had eggs florentine, goat cheese frittata, and a ravioli with beets. Nice service, complimentary mini muffins. We'll definitely go back for brunch.

                      -----
                      Bellanico
                      4238 Park Blvd, Oakland, CA 94602

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Cheesy Oysters

                        Marzano down the block is also serving brunch.

                        -----
                        Marzano
                        4214 Park Boulevard, Oakland, CA 94602