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Category Archives: breakfast

Cheddar & bacon waffles with fried chicken, organic maple syrup and cranberry butter

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Fried Chicken & Breakfast Waffles at NOLA in Palo Alto.

Baking cheddar and bacon inside the waffles set NOLA’s Fried Chicken and Breakfast Waffles apart from the usual brunch fare.

The waffles were fluffy on the inside but crispy on the outside, and dipping the waffles in the organic maple syrup created a delicious sweet and savory combination. The chicken breasts were huge, thick and tender, and the breading was crisp and peppery.

If you love thyme, you’ll want to try this. It is accompanied with a side of thick chicken-thyme gravy, as well as a side of creamy cranberry butter.

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Closeup of fried chicken at NOLA in Palo Alto.

NOLA did not skimp on the portions, either. On a recent Sunday, I only made it 1/3 of the way through my meal, and I took the rest home for an additional two meals. However, I’m one of those people who likes to spread their food out in small meals throughout the day.

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Close up of cheddar and bacon waffles at NOLA in Palo Alto.

It is by far the best chicken and waffles I’ve had so far. These menu items at the Palo Alto restaurant are on my to-do list for my next visit:

Bananas Foster French Toast: Baguette french toast, cream cheese, candied pecans, bananas, rum & brown sugar foster sauce

Shrimp & Crab Salad Po Boy: Wild gulf shrimp & lump crab salad, with lemon herb aioli and avocado, on a toasted bun

Lemon-Ricotta Pancakes: Paired with housemade raspberry compote and whipped cream cheese

NOLA is located at 535 Ramona St. in Palo Alto. For hours and more information, visit www.nolas.com or call (650) 328-2722.

 

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Sunday Brunch: Rich Canadian rock crab and Swiss quiche with fresh fruit

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The Canadian rock crab quiche at Country Gourmet American Bistro in Sunnyvale.

Whenever I go to a restaurant for Sunday brunch, the first item I look for on the menu is quiche. This rich egg pie is just one of those dishes that I strictly associate with brunch. If a restaurant wins me over with its quiche, I’m likely to become a regular.

The Canadian rock crab quiche at Sunnyvale’s Country Gourmet American Bistro convinced me to put the restaurant in my Sunday brunch rotation. The egg filling was packed with rich flavor and a generous amount of crab, Swiss cheese and onions baked through. The dish had a nice toasting on the top, and you could tell the crust was made from scratch.

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Close-up of the Canadian rock crab quiche at Country Gourmet American Bistro in Sunnyvale.

It was great comfort food. I even enjoyed the juicy fresh fruit, and I’m not really a big fruit fan. It was a great meal for only $10 (not including the $7 mimosa I had to accompany the meal).

Country Gourmet American Bistro is a family-owned business that seems to take pride in the quality and healthiness of its food. The food is never made from mixes, and the restaurant buys local, organic and free-range products when they are available, according to its website. It also offers a gluten-free menu that includes a housemade gluten-free cornbread.

Country Gourmet American Bistro is located at 1314 S. Mary Ave. For more information, call (408) 733-9446 or visit www.country-gourmet.com.

 

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Sunday Brunch: Brioche french toast with huckleberry compote and Grand Marnier creme

The Brioche French Toast at Sam's Chowder House in Palo Alto.

The Brioche French Toast at Sam’s Chowder House in Palo Alto.

The huckleberry compote and the Grand Marnier creme were what drew me in to the brioche french toast at Sam’s Chowder House. I typically stay away from french toast (having too much egg makes me nauseated), but the Sunday brunch entrée at the Palo Alto restaurant was too tempting to pass up.

The Home Fries at Sam's Chowder House in Palo Alto.

The Home Fries at Sam’s Chowder House in Palo Alto.

Luckily, the egg did not dominate the taste of the french toast, which was thick, pillowy soft on the inside, and nicely toasted on the outside. The compote was sweet with a little tartness, and this berry sauce soaked into the toast, making it that much more moist. The Grand Marnier added a subtle citrusy taste to the light and smooth cream. If you’re a fan of french toast, make sure this entrée is on your list.

The Sunday brunch menu at Sam’s Chowder House is not extensive, but there are some intriguing items, including the Dungeness Crab Deviled Eggs and the Smoked Salmon Soft Scramble with tarragon and home fries. The brunch menu also offers bottomless mimosas and a “Build Your Own Bloody Mary” bar with more than 20 ingredients to choose from.

The Nueske's Bacon at Sam's Chowder House in Palo Alto.

The Nueske’s Bacon at Sam’s Chowder House in Palo Alto.

The restaurant also serves lunchtime items, such as sandwiches, appetizers and seafood house specialties, if you’re not in the mood for brunch. Hours for brunch are 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Sundays.

Sam’s Chowder House in Palo Alto is located at 185 University Ave. For more information, call (650) 614-1177 or visit samschowderhousepa.com.

(Related: Big clam helpings by the spoonful at Sam’s Chowder House in Palo Alto)

 
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Posted by on October 6, 2015 in breakfast, brunch, comfort food, food

 

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“World-Famous” blueberry coffee cake a popular go-to at Hobee’s in Sunnyvale

The World-Famous Blueberry Coffeecake at Hobee's in Sunnyvale.

The World-Famous Blueberry Coffeecake at Hobee’s in Sunnyvale.

When a restaurant claims it has a “world famous” anything, I tend to be skeptical. I know it’s just a way of saying that the dish is very popular, but it better live up to the hype when you give it such a grand label.

However, after a few recommendations from trusted sources (aka my friend Lindsey and my parents), I decided to give the “World Famous Blueberry Coffeecake” at Hobee’s a try. The local restaurant chain is also known for its more health-conscious menu that boast several vegetarian entrees, such as the Hobee’s Tofu Scramble.

Dish of Choice

I ordered the Blissful Browns, hash browns topped with sauteed mushrooms, onion and Jack and cheddar cheese. I also ordered a side of the blueberry coffee cake. Along with a cup of coffee, my order came out to about $15, including tax.

The Taste

The coffee cake was moist, thick and big enough to split with another person. It honestly could have been a meal in itself. The cake was warm, and that pat of butter on top of the cinnamon streusel layer made the cake that much more moist, creating a melt-in-your-mouth texture. I can see why the coffee cake is so popular.

The potatoes in the Blissful Browns dish were thickly cut and soft on the inside with the right amount of toastiness on the edges. The sauteed onions and mushrooms reminded me of eating a juicy steak, so I didn’t miss the meat. I like the melted layer of cheese, but I wish there was more (I’m a cheese fiend, admittedly). Overall, it was an enjoyable meal.

A close-up of the Blissful Browns at Hobee's in Sunnyvale.

A close-up of the Blissful Browns at Hobee’s in Sunnyvale.

Other Details

With any popular brunch spot in the area, parking is going to be an issue. Since there was only a handful of parking spots in front of Hobee’s, it looked like most of the customers parked in the lot at the nearby Motel 6. However, I didn’t have success parking there either, so I ended up parking on San Aleso Avenue behind the motel.

My friend Lindsey put in a reservation for 10 ladies to be seated at 11 a.m. Unfortunately, we didn’t get seated until about 11:30 a.m. because it was so busy. However, our waitress was very courteous and let us pay separately for our meals (it’s a pain trying to split a check between 10 people and making sure everyone pays their fair share).

Hobee’s has six locations in the South Bay Area. The Sunnyvale restaurant is located at 800 W. Ahwanee Ave. near U.S. 101 and can be reached at (408) 524-3580. For more information, visit hobees.com.

 

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Oreo pancakes, cinnamon roll French toast highlight guilty pleasures at popular Bill’s Cafe in San Jose

The Cookies & Cream Pancakes at Bill's Cafe in San Jose.

The Cookies & Cream Pancakes at Bill’s Cafe in San Jose.

If there is ever a time to indulge in decadent, high-calorie treats, it’s brunch.

So I got excited to try some of the guilty pleasures from the menu at Bill’s Cafe, a popular brunch spot that has several locations throughout the San Jose area.

Some of the items on my to-do list are the Chilaquiles – eggs scrambled in corn tortillas, with chorizo, jalapenos and jack cheese – and the Cinnamon Roll French Toast – a giant, freshly-made cinnamon roll, dipped in rich batter and grilled to perfection.

Dish of Choice

I chose the Cookies & Cream Pancakes, made with buttermilk batter, mixed with crushed Oreo cookies and topped with whipped cream and powdered sugar. I went with the 2-pancake short stack for $7.50 and added a side of bacon for an extra $2.75.

I also ordered a cranberry mimosa for $6.99. Altogether, my bill came out to about $17, pre-tax and tip.

Close-up of the Cookies & Cream Pancakes at Bill's Cafe in San Jose.

Close-up of the Cookies & Cream Pancakes at Bill’s Cafe in San Jose.

The Taste

Although I love Oreo cookies and I love pancakes, I was apprehensive about putting them together in one dish. I thought their textures and flavors might be too much of a contrast.

The combination worked. The subtle sweetness of the pancake kept the dish from becoming saccharine, and the moisture and warmth of the pancake helped soften the cookie crumbles, creating delicious pockets of chocolatey goodness within the pancake. Adding maple syrup would have been overkill. The whipped cream was light and just enough decadence without tipping the scale.

I could not finish my short stack, and I took the other half home. To be honest, the dish was pretty tasty when I reheated it two days later. Now that’s a good pancake!

Just as a note: Bill’s Cafe offers other interesting griddle entrees, such as the Almond Joy Pancakes (filled with almonds, coconut and chocolate chips) and the Hawaiian Pancakes (filled with bananas, macadamia nuts and coconut).

That being said, my pancakes had a few coconut shavings and a couple nuts inside. This was not an issue for me, but it could be for someone who is allergic to either of those items. If you are, make sure to specify that when you’re ordering.

The Cranberry Mimosa at Bill's Cafe in San Jose.

The Cranberry Mimosa at Bill’s Cafe in San Jose.

Other Details

I could tell Bill’s Cafe at 302 N. Bascom Ave. was a popular spot for Sunday brunch when they offered overflow parking at the market next door. This casual dining establishment was crazy busy when eight ladies and I went on a recent Sunday, so expect a wait, no matter the size of your party.

We arrived around noon, so I was already expecting to wait an hour or more. To my surprise, we only had to wait about 35-40 minutes. Not bad for such a big group.

Bill’s Cafe has four other SJ locations: 1115 Willow St., 2089 The Alameda; 5631 Cottle Road; and 1401 Kooser Road.

For more information, call the Bascom Avenue location at (408) 287-2455 or visit billscafe.com.

 
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Posted by on June 14, 2015 in breakfast, brunch, comfort food

 

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Great breakfast burrito without the grease at Denica’s Real Food Kitchen in Walnut Creek

The Original Burrito at Denica's Real Food Kitchen in Walnut Creek.

The Original Burrito at Denica’s Real Food Kitchen in Walnut Creek.

I can’t think of anyone I know who has ever said, “I don’t really like brunch.” Everybody likes brunch.

I was visiting a friend in Walnut Creek, and I wanted to find a place that had a great brunch menu. After a quick online search, I came across Denica’s Real Food Kitchen. Any place that offers unique items such as cookie dough waffles and Almond Joy pancakes is a place I have to try.

Dish of Choice

I ordered “The Original Burrito,” which came with scrambled eggs, potatoes, Tillamook cheddar cheese, Black Forest Ham and salsa. You can switch out the ham for Applewood bacon or sausage, or, for $1 extra, you can have linguisa (Portuguese sausage), chicken basil sausage, turkey or andouille sausage. I also ordered water and a cup of coffee. My bill was about $11.

The Taste

I don’t know what Tillamook cheddar cheese is, but I do know it’s delicious. I liked everything about this burrito. The ham was tender, the potatoes were nicely roasted and seasoned, the eggs were fluffy, and the salsa tasted fresh. I also like the fact that the burrito wasn’t greasy, like some breakfast burritos can be.

The Ambiance

Denica’s Real Food Kitchen was bustling and had a steady crowd of brunch eaters. However, the service was friendly and fast, and my friend and I only had to wait about 10 minutes for our meal. It was a nice, clean eatery where you order at the counter, and the staff brings the food to you.

Other Details

Denica’s Real Food Kitchen has an impressive menu that includes a good number of vegetarian and gluten-free entrees. The Walnut Creek location is at 2280 Oak Grove Road, inside Citrus Marketplace off Ygnacio Valley Road. Denica’s also is located at 6058 Dougherty Road in Dublin and 2259 Las Positas Road in Livermore. The Walnut Creek location is open 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., seven days a week. For more information, call (925) 945-6200 or visit denicascafe.com.

 
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Posted by on December 22, 2014 in breakfast, brunch

 

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