Category Archives: brunch

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


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.


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.


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 or call (650) 328-2722.



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Fresh seafood, beautiful waterfront and downtown nightlife highlight first visit to Seattle


View of the Seattle skyline from Kerry Park.

Somewhere between a huge, thick pancake and a fluffy biscuit is the savory Dutch Baby. Bacon and broccoli are cooked throughout the warm and moist baked dough, the top is covered in sharp white cheddar, and the croissant-like outer crust puffs out along the edges of the small skillet. This brunch dish at Tilikum Place Cafe is one of the best I have ever had on the West Coast and a great kickoff to my first visit to Seattle.


The savory Dutch Baby at Tilikum Place Cafe in Seattle.

The fresh seafood, the waterfront, the parks and the downtown nightlife are enough to convince me to move to Seattle in the next five years. Seattle has that big city atmosphere without feeling overcrowded with people and traffic. Being the awestruck tourist, I loved the sight of the Space Needle outside my friends’ apartment window and the snow-capped Mt. Rainier from afar at Myrtle Edwards Park.


Fresh seafood on display at the Pike Place Market in Seattle.

There’s no shame in doing all the touristy stuff: shopping at the Pike Place Market, visiting the famous Market Theater Gum Wall, walking along the waterfront near Pier 70, and viewing the beautifully lit skyline from Kerry Park. The send-off was sampling from the extensive list of ciders at Capitol Cider and performing Japanese-style karaoke at Rock Box, where patrons get to reserve private rooms to drink and sing silly songs with their friends.

These places make for a great Seattle to-do list, but there’s so much more to explore. Check out the photo gallery of my trip to this great city.

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Posted by on January 24, 2016 in brunch, comfort food, seafood, travel


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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


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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

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


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


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Dining in Silicon Valley: My top five Bay Area restaurants (so far!)

The Cioppino at Tarragon in Sunnyvale.

The Cioppino at Tarragon in Sunnyvale.

I can’t believe it’s already been a year since I took that cross-country trek from Michigan to my new home of California.

Over the year, I have discovered some delicious entrees from many restaurants in the Silicon Valley/Bay Area – from Indian-style tacos to apple pie crepes to prime rib Shepherd’s Pie. My focus has been mostly on the San Jose area, and I plan to expand more northbound (San Francisco and beyond) this upcoming year.

Here are my top favorite restaurants that I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing in Silicon Valley in my first year. These eateries are in no particular order because they are all great in their own way:

Tarragon, 140 S. Murphy Ave., Sunnyvale

I have never been disappointed in the food and service at Tarragon. The cioppino is to die for – jam-packed with fresh mussels, clams and shrimp in a rich tomato sauce, perfect for dipping with the garlic bread.

The Collard Greens at Lillie Mae's House of Soul Food in Santa Clara.

The Collard Greens at Lillie Mae’s House of Soul Food in Santa Clara.

Seafood-lovers – or just lovers of top-quality food at a reasonable price – should visit Tarragon on downtown Sunnyvale’s Historic Murphy Avenue.

Check out: Delicious seafood stew can be found at Sunnyvale’s Tarragon, which touts “farm-to-table” cuisine

Lillie Mae’s House of Soul Food, 1290 Coleman Ave., Santa Clara

I had some of the best Southern cooking that I’ve ever tried at Lillie Mae’s House of Soul Food, about two miles away from the Mineta San Jose International Airport.

You can smell the smoked meats and other soul food favorites piping from the restaurant as you drive down Coleman Ave. The fried chicken is tender with perfectly crispy skin, moist and thick cornbread, and collard greens that you can tell have been stewing for hours.

The building is not fancy, resembling an large wooden shack, but it delivers on succulent Southern cooking.

Check out: Fried chicken, collard greens satisfy at Lillie Mae’s House of Soul Food

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

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

Hobee’s, 800 W. Ahwanee Ave., Sunnyvale

Hobee’s in Sunnyvale is clearly a popular weekend-brunch spot: Most customers have to park at the nearby Motel 6 or on the street, and that place fills up fast, so expect a wait.

However, the wait is worth it just to try the restaurant’s World-Famous Blueberry Coffeecake. This cake is moist, thick and big enough for two people, in my opinion. And that pat of butter on top makes the coffee cake that much more scrumptious.

For those who are watching what they eat, the local restaurant chain is also known for its more health-conscious menu that includes vegetarian options such as the Hobee’s Tofu Scramble.

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

B Street & Vine, 320 S. B Street, San Mateo

Bruschetta is more than just toasted bread with tomatoes on top. I expanded my bruschetta horizons at San Mateo’s B Street & Vine, a popular wine cafe in the Bay Area.

On a recent visit, my friends and I enjoyed many delicious combinations of ingredients, including the salami with feta and pesto, and the mango, tomato, cilantro and avocado. Bruschetta lovers need to make a trip here.

The bruschetta appetizer at B Street and Vine in San Mateo.

The bruschetta appetizer at B Street and Vine in San Mateo.

B Street & Vine also has good half-off wine specials during the week, patio dining and live music.

Check out: Vibrant combinations of bruschetta please the eyes and palate at San Mateo wine cafe

Jonathan’s Fish & Chips, 840 Willow Road, Menlo Park

When my dad says he is picking up Jonathan’s Fish & Chips on the way home from work, I can’t help but develop a big smile.

Not counting my dad’s recipe, the best fried catfish in the Silicon Valley area can be found at this Menlo Park restaurant.

The Large Fish & Chips entree at Jonathan's Fish & Chips in Menlo Park.

The Large Fish & Chips entree at Jonathan’s Fish & Chips in Menlo Park.

This modest, mom-and-pop restaurant delivers on Cajun-style, cornmeal-battered fish that comes fresh and hot out of the fryer. The fish is always flaky and lightly seasoned, and the fried okra is cooked in the same delicious way.

I also like the owner, who is always friendly and takes the time to talk to all of her guests. It’s a very welcoming place to eat.

Check out: Cajun-style fish and chips, and best fried okra around, at Jonathan’s in Menlo Park

I’m also looking for some food barbecue, Thai and Korean restaurants in the Bay Area, so please leave your suggestions below 🙂

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Posted by on August 26, 2015 in brunch, food, seafood, soul food, wine bar


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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


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Pesto and feta chicken crepe worth the wait at Mountain View’s Crepevine

Close-up of the Tuscany crepe at Mountain View's Crepevine.

Close-up of the Tuscany crepe at Mountain View’s Crepevine.

Whenever I venture out for brunch on a Sunday morning in the Bay Area, I always have to remind myself to have a snack before I go.

This helps prepare for the long wait that is bound to happen, and I tend to become increasingly hangry (that feeling of anger due to hunger) after the first 20 minutes of waiting for a table.

This past Fourth of July weekend, the line was out the door at Mountain View’s Crepevine, known for using fresh, organic and locally-grown ingredients. We had 10 ladies in our party, and I didn’t grab my snack (ugh).

However, I was pleasantly surprised by the efficiency of the waitstaff. It took about 25 minutes before I got to the counter to order my food, but the staff was already setting up our table while we waited in line. Although the place was crowded, the staff had a great handle on traffic control and getting diners to their seats in a timely fashion.

The Tuscany crepe at Mountain View's Crepevine.

The Tuscany crepe at Mountain View’s Crepevine.

Dish of Choice

I ordered the Tuscany, a crepe filled with chicken breast, mushrooms, tomatoes, roasted almonds, provolone, feta and pesto. The dish is served with potatoes or fries (I chose fries) and organic mixed greens with balsamic vinaigrette. A gluten-free option is available for $1 more.

Along with a glass of sangria, my order cost about $22.

The Taste

Crepevine did not skimp on the ingredients. My crepe was jam-packed with tender chicken, which was moist and savory from the rich-flavored pesto. The pesto was a bit on the thin side, but it made for a great marinade for the chicken.

The crepe itself was light and crisp on the edges, and there was a generous amount of strong, hearty feta. The almonds added a toasty flavor and interesting texture to the dish. The fries were thickly cut, crispy on the outside and not greasy.

The Sangria at Mountain View's Crepevine.

The Sangria at Mountain View’s Crepevine.

The mixed salad was a welcomed fresh and light contrast to the rich, thick crepe, which was big enough to split with another person, in my opinion. There was a lot of food for a good price, and I took half of the entree home for later.

The sangria was strong, but not knock-you-on-your-butt strong, and there were plenty of fruit slices to add a great tropical flavor. I was hoping the restaurant had a white wine sangria because the red wine version tends to be a bit heavy for warm, summer weather. It was still a good cocktail worth trying.

Other Details

Crepevine has 10 locations throughout the San Francisco/San Jose Bay Area. The Mountain View restaurant is located at 300 Castro St. For more information, call the Mountain View location at (650) 969-6878 or visit


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