Category Archives: brunch

Overnight Yeasted Pancakes

I like to think of myself as a modern woman. I work full-time in a career chosen because of a personal passion and interest, travel as much as the bank account and schedule will allow, keep up-to-date on news and various happenings in the world, have cocktail time with girlfriends as well as dates with J (my husband) and am extremely self-reliant and independent. I mean, I may not have the shoe collection of Carrie Bradshaw or be a high powered attorney like Julia Braverman-Graham (Parenthood- just watch it, it is soooo good!), but I’d consider myself to be progressive and liberal woman.

I’m not sure if it is in spite of this or because of it that I also have a desire to be The Perfect Wife. Some of you may recognize or relate to this hypothetical scenario: wake up looking refreshed, have a hot breakfast prepared for you and hubby, have a productive and creatively rewarding day at work, return looking as dazzling as the moment you left the house and then cook a gourmet meal which you and the husband enjoy (with a nice bottle of wine) as the day winds down. Am I particularly proud to say I have this desire? Not really…it’s actually giving me an odd sense of guilt even typing this out, and you don’t even need to remind me that women with children- a group to which I do not belong- may struggle with the same wishes while juggling about a million times more responsibilities and pressures. Continue reading

Recipe: Spring Vegetable Frittata

I hate to start off a Sunday afternoon post with a rant, but I just have to get it out. I’m done paying money for bad meals and mediocre food. Just done. It seems I’ve had some bad luck especially when it comes to breakfast or brunch outings (there have been a few dinners as well, darn it!), and I guess it’s partially my fault for trying to tweak a scramble so it’s made with egg whites or to ask for “easy cheese.” Maybe I should just order an omelet the way it is without adjustments. But even as I type that sentence, I’m not totally convinced that trying to eat relatively healthily at a restaurant is reason enough for a bad plate of food. What restaurant these days doesn’t offer a “substitute egg whites” option anyway? They all do, right? Grrrrr….. Continue reading

Quick Bites: Fiore Market Cafe- South Pasadena

While driving around during one gorgeous Southern California morning, J and I passed by the old Bistro K space attached to the Fremont Centre Theatre in South Pasadena and saw that “Fiore Market Cafe” had taken its place.  Having spent many evenings savoring the creative and mouthwatering dishes of Chef Laurent Quenioux back in the Bistro K days (Chef is now cooking at Vertical Wine Bistro) we just had to stop in and investigate.  I’m glad we did.

I love a chalkboard menu

The tiny corner space is now laid out like a deli/cafe, featuring prepared salads (Spicy Udon Noodles, Fennel Slaw and Curried Cauliflower were a few of the items available today), and menu of made-to-order sandwiches and fresh salads and an array of gorgeous baked goods piled high on different cake platters.  The lemon bars, red velvet cupcakes and large, flat chocolate chip cookies looked especially good.

Coconut, lavender and red velvet cupcakes

Seating is right outside the market in a lusciously landscaped patio, decorated with clay pots of the fresh herbs used in many of the dishes.  The romantic, spring-like feel of both the inside and outdoor spaces hasn’t changed since it was Bistro K and was one of the reasons why we always went back.  The rustic, European-country style is so utterly charming and makes the patio a perfect place to enjoy lunch al fresco.

Mulberry scones

Unfortunately we’d just eaten so we didn’t have the appetite to try any of their savory dishes, but we couldn’t resist buying a beautiful oatmeal cookie from the case.  It was slightly crisp around the edges and chewy in the middle and tasted of fresh butter, brown sugar and oats.  Wow.  I guess I’ll have to add that cookie to the list of things I’ll be craving again soon.

I’m excited to go back and have a proper lunch at Fiore but will have a hard time choosing between the Short Rib Sandwich on Homemade Bread, the Tempeh Bacon, Avocado and Lettuce Sandwich and the Roast Chicken and Maple Glazed Bacon Salad with Blue Cheese, Egg and Dill-Peppercorn Dressing.  Hungry yet? They also sell salami, jams and other gourmet goodies in the market.

In addition to the Tempeh Bacon sandwich (made with Vegenaise) the cafe also offers Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes and a Lavash Wrap made with Soyrizo so carnivores and vegans can live happily ever after….or at least, eat happily together!

Fiore Market Cafe
1000 Freemont Ave.
South Pasadena, CA 91030
(626) 441-2280
Hours: Mon-Thu 11:00am-6:00pm, Fri-Sat 11:00am-7:00pm Sun: CLOSED

Restaurant Review: Square One, Hollywood

I’d only been to Square One once, a looong time ago when they had first opened. I remembered having the Tuna Sandwich and, although it was a bit hard to handle, it was delicious. So, when J and I wanted to go out for brunch a few weeks ago, we decided to pay the place another visit.

We arrived at around 11:30 AM, and waited in line for about 15 minutes. My tummy was rumbling and I was anxious to take a peek at the menu. Square One’s menu is exactly what I look for in a brunch place- creative dishes using familiar ingredients, like baked egg dishes (familiar) paired with short ribs and caramelized onions (creative!). Since it was close to lunchtime (and I had fond memories of my previous sandwich experience) I decided to order the Veggie Club (a veggie sandwich with avocado, tomato, red onion, sprout mix, radish and frisee on five grain bread with cheddar, mustard and aioli). J wanted breakfast and got the housemade granola with soy milk, plus the fruit bowl of the day. We sipped on our coffees and waited.

Fresh bowl o fruit!

I already started getting rubbed the wrong way a bit due to the large number of flies inside the restaurant. Since patrons kept coming in and out of the restaurant and often times not closing the door all the way, it couldn’t be helped, but I felt like I was sitting outside. We kept shooing them away even though our food had yet to arrive. When it did, the Fly Problem got even worse.

Non-crunchy granola

Speaking of the food- J’s fruit bowl was a beautiful mound of fresh, seasonal fruit- nectarines, plums, grapes, and white peaches. It’s so nice to get a fruit bowl that reflects what’s good NOW- not just random fruit. It’s rare to find such an abundantly fresh and well thought-out fruit bowl. His granola, however, lacked any sort of crunch and had the soggy texture of mush the minute his soy milk hit it. It tasted alright, but it was more like cold oatmeal, not granola. I wonder if they made the granola soft in order to balance out the crunch that did come in the form of about 50 marcona almonds- not kidding. These expensive, skinned almonds were overly abundant, so J picked about half of them out and took them home. I mean, we all like marconas but to avoid eating a 2000 calorie breakfast, he just couldn’t consume all of those nuts! My sandwich looked nice, but the minute I saw it I pretty much knew it was non functional. What do I mean? Well, I have a pet peeve, and it’s when a sandwich or burger is built in a way that you KNOW it will fall all over you the minute you take a bite. If I wanted to eat a pile of vegetables and a couple of slices of bread, I would order a salad and a side of toast! Same with burgers (not Side One’s, which I haven’t tried- just in general). If I wanted to WEAR a couple of beef patties, mustard, pickles and onions I would make a friggin shirt out of a Whopper (tm) and slip it over my head. Sorry to be so adamant, but I firmly believe that a sandwich should FUNCTION as a sandwich. If you take one bite and all of the ingredients come sliding out the back, it isn’t working. And that’s what I was desperately trying to avoid as I tried to squeeze the emorous pile of veggies stacked on bread into my mouth. I wasn’t successful and ended up with half of it on my plate.

Too big, even for my big mouth!

Sometimes you can have too much good stuff….

Using one hand to constantly swat flies away and the other trying to keep my sandwich together didn’t make for a great dining experience. Although I do admire the way the owners put the menu together with fresh, seasonal ingredients, I think I need a little break before trying Square One again. And please- here’s a public plea to all sandwich makers out there- PLEASE make a sandwich that functions. To me, it’s as important as how it tastes.

P.S.- a crunchy granola might be nice too!

Square One Dining
Address: 4854 Fountain Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90029
Phone: (323) 661-1109

Restaurant Review: Larkin’s Eagle Rock

After tons of delays, Larkin’s in Eagle Rock finally opened about a month ago. I’d been on their email list for awhile and had known about their private tasting dinners, but never got a chance to go. I’d pass by the restaurant almost daily (it’s really close to our house) and make a mental note to myself to try it out once it actually opened.

Fast forward to last weekend when, as with almost every Sunday, we started driving toward the Coffee Table and (as usual) passed Larkin’s. When I mentioned to J that it was finally open, he quickly turned the car around and proclaimed that we should try it out. Quite the break in tradition, I must say- you see, the Coffee Table is practically a religion for us on weekends. The food is well prepared, the coffee is kickin’ and you can tweak any dish as many ways as you can possibly imagine. May I get the Eggs from Hell, easy “hell,” egg whites only, wheat toast instead of potatoes and easy on the cheese? The CT counter girl doesn’t even blink an eye, and within 10 minutes, your breakfast arrives, perfectly tweaked to your liking.

When you get consistency like that, it’s hard to go anywhere else, but the cute craftsman house that is Larkin’s beckoned with it’s shiny windows so we pulled into the parking lot. After walking in and being seated immediately, I took a good look at the space….and I was already in love. The mix-and-match vintage tables and chairs, the row of bright, clear light bulbs that lined the hallway, large windows overlooking a flower-filled yard….I felt like I was in my Southern grandmother’s house……that is, if I had a southern granny. Even though my personal taste in interiors leans more towards minimal, slightly Asian decor, I was just enamored of the homey, vintage feel of the place. We quickly ordered coffee and checked out the menu.

I realized that the menu was actually a list of about ten items, and you were instructed to choose three to create your own brunch. There was also a mission statement of sorts- basically saying that the chef makes dishes based on family recipes so they don’t really do substitutions or additions………so, in a nutshell, no tweaking. Although I was tempted to order my scrambled eggs with egg whites only, I quickly digressed……….I mean, after all, Larkin’s is a SOUL FOOD JOINT and if I wanted egg whites, what the hell was I doing there? Of course the “I’m the paying customer” part of me was conflicted with the culinary adventurer in me, but I decided to simply follow the instructions and pick three things off the menu. J and I both ended up with scrambled eggs, pancakes and veggie sausage. We sipped our super hot coffee and waited.

The food came quickly and smelled divine. We dug in- the scrambled eggs were seasoned with herbs and spices and didn’t need a bit of additional salt or pepper- they were perfect and original. The pancakes came already dressed with syrup- just the right amount, I might add- and were crisp and dark brown on the outside, slightly chewy and toothsome on the inside. Delicious and clearly created from a special recipe. The house made veggie sausage patties were spicy, and although I felt they were a bit on the salty side, J loved them and ended up eating one of mine.

Since there were no prices on the menu, I had no idea of the cost until we got the bill……..each item was $5. So, if you’re required to choose three items for brunch, your meal will be $15.00……sort of steep for pancakes and sausage, no? I can’t be 100% certain that you HAVE to choose three items, but after reading the “it’s our way coz we know it’s the best” mission statement, I can only assume that you must. The thing is, most of the menu items are, well…….on the heavy side- i.e. smothered potatoes, hot links, French toast, grits… it’s a bit difficult to create a balanced plate. But then again, “This is a SOUL FOOD JOINT!” I had to keep reminding myself. To be perfectly honest, I would normally have a problem with being told how many items I should order, or that I couldn’t substitute this for that, but I don’t at Larkin’s. Why? Because the food is GOOD. I’ll go as far to call it SPECIAL. Those pancakes must have been made in a cast iron skillet that probably has years of flavor on it, the eggs were cooked to perfection and seasoned oh-so-well, and although the veggie sausages weren’t my absolute favorite, you could tell they were made by hand, made with care and made by someone who really knows how to cook. So who am I to argue with these people whose love of food actually comes through in their offerings? I’m sure a lot of people would disagree and say that, as a paying customer, the customer has the right to choose however they want their food, but I’d have to argue that you might be missing out on some damn good food! Sure, I tweak my eggs at the Coffee Table, but those are just eggs. They aren’t made by your southern granny, ya know?

1496 Colorado Blvd.
Eagle Rock