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Cock-a-Doodle Cafe, Oakland CA

There was nothing in the fridge or cabinets this morning for a decent brunch since we slept and, because we just moved in, we hadn’t done grocery shopping yet.  Zach found Cock-a-Doodle Cafe online looking for “best breakfast oakland,” and we can see why diners would feel that way.  Latin/American fusion for breakfast, brunch, and lunch, with an impressive selection of fanciful coffees and cocktails, this establishment merits a few visits.

house strawberry lemonade

house strawberry lemonade

Despite having seeds, Zach wanted to try the lemonade – made in house, organic, and very refreshing.  It was strong in strawberry flavor with lemon as a medium background, not too sweet but not too sour.  There was some pulp, and the garnishes were cute.

fried poach egg benedict

fried poach egg benedict

His entree isn’t on the online menu, but off the in house menu he ordered this version of Eggs Benedict.  Poached eggs with smoked pork loin, tomato, avocado, and lemon caper sauce were deliciously layered on English muffin.  The egg whites were tender while the yolk was still rich and creamy, all over breaded with a crispy cornmeal crust.  The smoky pork loin was also tender, and lean.  Sweet tomato and creamy avocado were both fresh, and the rich Hollandaise was tangy thanks to the capers.  With a choice of house griddle potatoes or organic greens, and being in a breakfast mood more so than lunch, Zach chose the potatoes; they were crispy and very savory with onion, garlic, and the right amount of salt.

mexican hot chocolate

mexican hot chocolate

August’s Mexican hot chocolate took a bit longer to make than Zach’s strawberry lemonade, so this big bowl barely had room on the table, competing with the other items taking up space.  It was very mild and an easy way for someone new to Mexican hot chocolate to ease into the “spices,” because  for this it was cinnamon that stood out the most.  It was very easy to sip, but you almost don’t want to disturb it because it’s so pretty.

old oakland omelette

old oakland omelette

The egg in August’s omelette was fluffy with no skin, nor was it overcooked (causing the egg to brown).  It looks simple, but inside it hides thick-cut pancetta, chipotle aioli, green onions, tomato, and cheddar.  The cheese is creamy, balancing out the flavorful but not-too-spicy aioli.  The green onions were on the inside, not on the outside like she had anticipated, so they were slightly cooked and therefore not too strong.  She enjoyed the same potatoes that Zach did, but she wished there was more omelette for a few more bites of delight.

half-order of graham cracker-crusted french toast

half-order of graham cracker-crusted french toast

Zach found out a little too late that the french toast has poppy seeds, but we both thought it was fantastic.  It had a little more texture than your typical french toast with a thin, crisp, and crunchy graham cracker layer.  Light, airy, and somewhat pillowy in the center, the thick-cut bread was slightly sweet so we used very little syrup.  For the price and size, being a half-order, this is a great deal and a unique find.

Raul, our server, was attentive and understanding.  We found this place on a whim, but with perfect timing, we didn’t realize we were going to be right next to the Old Oakland Farmers Market where Zach found inspiration for dinner.  Even further, August overheard the lady at the table next to us mention to Raul that her family used to own the very building we were eating in.  What an introduction to living in Oakland!

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Sweet Maple, San Francisco CA

Home of the famous millionaire’s bacon, Sweet Maple is a breakfast and lunch joint you can’t pass up.  Everyone knows that, though, so make reservations when possible, show up early, or be prepared to wait for a table – and it’s worth it.  Nearly everything is fresh, local, and house-made, such as the millionaire’s bacon that requires four hours to cook!

snowed spinach scramble

snowed spinach scramble with herb roasted potato medley and ciabatta au levain toast

August’s stepmother selected the scramble of spinach and white cheddar.  August tried a bite, and can attest to the great texture of the egg and the slightest bit of give in the spinach.  Everyone had their own portion of the potato medley, and we all loved it.  The bold variety of cuts cuts was crispy yet tender in the center, perfectly salted, and accented by a great selection of herbs.

athenian omelette

athenian omelette (+ potatoes + toast)

August went towards the leafy greens as well, with a mushroom, arugula, and mild goat cheese omelette.  This was a delicious and perfectly cooked remix of her typical order; mushrooms are obligatory, but when restaurants don’t have goat cheese she’ll get Swiss, and spinach is the common green.  She likes stronger cheeses, but the mild goat cheese in this was a good level, or else any stronger would have overpowered the vegetables.  Toast isn’t that important to her, but she liked the style of ciabatta and the fact that it was very lightly toasted.

kimchi benedict

kimchi benedict (+ potatoes)

We all oohed and aahed when August’s dad’s kimchi benedict was brought out.  It began with a base of Thomas’ English muffin, then tofu, sauteed kimchi, poached eggs, chipotle hollandaise, and green onion.  He loves the spicier things in life, so this was just the thing for him.

marnier french toast

marnier french toast

Zach was the token sweet tooth at the table today.  He chose the inch-thick pain de mie french toast soaked in Grand Marnier batter, sprinkled with cinnamon and powdered sugar, and served with house-made maple butter and pure maple syrup.  A crispy outside and fluffy tender center was the ideal mouth feel – not soggy, not dry, not overcooked, and not raw.  The mild orange flavor wasn’t overly sweet, and pure maple is always a treat.  Zach added two strips of millionaire’s bacon.  Sweet, smoky, mildly spicy, and fairly lean for being thick cut, the great flavor lives up to its name.  This is a rich bacon, you betcha.  The over-medium eggs he got extra were cooked as per requested, and he got the potatoes extra too since he wanted to try a different kind of breakfast potato he hadn’t before.  He was so inspired, after the Chocolate Salon, he bought the same mix of purple, red, and yellow from the Fort Mason Farmers Market.

Wow.  If breakfast is your favorite meal of the day, this may well become one of your favorite restaurants.

A Day in Downtown Martinez, Part One: Victoria’s

Our one-and-only vehicle needed service today, so we brought it to our preferred garage in Martinez, but that left us with several hours to kill downtown.  We thought, what would it be like for people who had to come to the county seat for, let’s say, jury duty?  Where are some good places they can walk to and trust for a meal?  Today we sampled from three restaurants, to provide a spectrum of what’s not just available, but also great quality.

spinach, mushroom, bacon, avocado, and cheese omelet

spinach, mushroom, bacon, avocado, and cheese omelet

Victoria’s is a home-style cafe open every day for breakfast and lunch.  We got breakfast here since it was still pretty early.  The omelet we ordered doesn’t have its own name – in full, it is called the spinach, mushroom, bacon, avocado, and cheese omelet, with hash browns and toast on the side.  The egg of the omelet was light and fluffy, and the cook obviously knew what (s)he was doing because there was no brown or tough, chewy skin as a result of being cooked too quickly; eggs are supposed to be cooked “low and slow.”  The vegetables were all fresh and superbly sauteed, and it helped that the spinach was thoroughly washed (unlike the restaurant down the street).  There was an abundance of ripe avocado inside and out, and the bacon was crisp.  They don’t skimp on ingredients, but they know how to make a proper omelet as opposed to a scramble.  The thicker-cut hash browns were crispy but still had a tender potato center, and the toast was of high quality with oats on the outside and wheat germ mixed in.

In the past we’ve been here for lunch and have loved the Reuben and the beef melt.  Since we were here so early and knew we’d have to do lunch somewhere, we forwent our favorites to try this omelet for breakfast, and it’s on the list of favorites now, too.  Zach says that avocado isn’t his thing in an omelet, but it was different here and he really enjoyed it today.  The staff is always cheery and super friendly, so if you’re looking for fresh food and service with a smile, visit Victoria’s.