Tag Archives: breakfast

New Orleans Food Tour: Café Beignet

Chasing the Eclipse: Gastronomic Notes from a Trip to New Orleans and Dallas.

It turns out beignets are not for us.

New Orleans is famous many dishes, with savory and sweet, but among the latter beignets reign supreme – at least, among tourists. I can only imagine that it’s the fun of eating a pastry that is guaranteed to cover you and everything around you with powdered sugar that makes them so appealing. And fun they are, even if they otherwise were rather disappointing.

Among the establishments serving beignets in the French Quarter, the two most prominent ones are Cafe du Monde, which has been selling beignets since 1862, and Café Beignet, a mere 30 year old restaurant which makes up for its youth by having actually four different branches in the city. We visited the one on Decatur St. for breakfast our first morning in New Orleans, though we twice stopped at the one on Bourbon Street to rest our feet and listen to some live Jazz. The garden at the latter site is glorious.

The Café Beignet branch on Decatur Street has a fun dining room, somewhat evocative of la Belle  Époque. The wooden bar is beautiful. Outdoors, there are only a couple of tables on the sidewalk by the restaurant. It’s not particularly picturesque, but it allows you to people watch as you eat.

You order at the counter, and food is brought to your table. The menu consists of omelettes, sandwiches, breakfast items and Creole specialties like jambalaya and crawfish etouffee. And, of course, beignets and other pastries. They have a bunch of coffee dishes, but not fresh orange juice.

I’m not a breakfast eater myself, so I ordered the beignets ($4.50 for 3). These were relatively large squares of fried dough covered with powdered sugar. As the powdered sugar is the same everywhere, it was all about the fried dough. And this fried dough was not great. It was dense and chewy and not particularly flavorful on its own (thus the need for powdered sugar). Basically, they were heavy – and the last thing you want in the morning is a heavy piece of fried dough. I ate a beignet and sort of nibbled on the second one. Mike took a bite, and was done.

Apparently, the problem with New Orleans beignets is that they are made from a leavened dough instead of the choux pastry used in France. The latter makes them far lighter and enjoyable.

Mike ordered the Andouille sausage omelette ($12), which came with grits and a slice of French bread. Miked liked it. The sausage was very tasty, spicy and flavorful, and it was well mixed with the omelette. The omelette was on the small side, but it wasn’t very expensive. The grits and herbed toasted bread was a disconcerting choice – Mike would have preferred a biscuit.

Café Beignet
600 Decatur Street
New Orleans, Louisiana
M-Th 8am-6pm
F-Su 8am-8pm

New Orleans Food Tour


San Leandro Eats: Nation’s Giant Hamburgers

One of the best fast foods burgers out there

The other night I had a craving for a burger, which had me thinking: where can I get the best burger in San Leandro? We are not a city known for burgers. There are lots and lots of places to have burgers here, to be clear, but none that are particularly noteworthy. Still, I haven’t visited many of those places for years and I thought trying the different burgers available in San Leandro might be a fun project for the upcoming year (or two). I had planned to start with Rocky’s Charcoal Grill – a place beloved by many in San Leandro. I have not liked their burgers in the past, but it’s been fourteen years since my last visit, so they may have changed. My old review is definitely ready for an update. Alas, Rocky’s wasn’t open (it was a Sunday) and Nation’s is very close by, so Mike went there instead.

I like Nation’s burgers. As far as fast food burgers go, they have always been my “default” for over three decades – though they now share this “honor” with Habit Burger. At 1/3 lbs, the burgers are fairly large, they ooze with American cheese and they are very generous with veggies and toppings – though I always get mine with just tomatoes, while Mike prefers his with lettuce and onions. The burgers are smothered in mayo, probably enough to cause a heart attack to someone with cardiac issues. For this reason, I feel that they mostly taste of mayo and American cheese, though enough to not really be able to forgo it. But I like them. If I had to grade them – and I do, because this is a project about finding the best burger, I’d give them 8/10 as far as “fast food burgers” go, and a 5/10 as far as all burgers go. Indeed, I will make Nation’s my standard for an average burger, and grade others accordingly.

In addition to burgers, Nation is known for its pies. These are of a similar quality to their burgers: enjoyable. On this occasion we got the blueberry pie which was on season, and we liked it.

Nation also has breakfast items, which also are totally fine as far as a fast food place goes.



NYC Food Adventures: La Grande Boucherie

Notes from a New York City Foodie Trip
La Grande Boucherie

French eats meet NYC and don’t disappoint.

La Grande Boucherie had the fortune of being located about half way between our hotel and the Museum of Modern Art, the first stop in our NYC itinerary. I usually don’t eat breakfast – and that Monday morning was no exception – but I figured my husband might want something solid before tackling the museum. Given how long we spent checking out the exhibits, this was a good call.

La Grande Boucherie serves breakfast, weekend brunch, lunch and dinner in an attractive art nouveau setting that immediately made me feel as if I was in the NYC of yore. The stained glass ceilings were gorgeous, as were the ceramic floors, the central bar was impressive and while the dining rooms, located at both sides of the bar, were more austere, they made me feel very much at home. The Paris, New York City and Buenos Aires of the early 20th century were, perhaps, more similar than not.

Perhaps the prettiest room in the restaurant is its outdoors, covered patio, open to a pedestrian passageway – “6 1/2 Avenue”- that connects W 53rd from W54th streets. That patio is filled with potted plants – you can see them on the bar mirror in the picture above – and was quite enticing, though closed that cold February morning.

Capuccino

The breakfast menu at La Grande Boucherie was, surprisingly, brief. It included several egg dishes, a few sandwiches and a nice variety of coffees, teas and breakfast cocktails, but not very many sweet dishes. It was just as well, as I wasn’t particularly hungry. I enjoyed a couple of pretty average cappuccinos ($6) and an also pretty-average almond croissant ($6), while my husband had the omelette au jambon & gruyère ($30)

Omelet

The omelet was definitely not as fluffy as we had expected based on the reviews – but it was just as good. It turns out that gruyere and good quality ham make a huge difference as far as taste goes. My husband thoroughly enjoyed it. The potatoes were OK, good but nothing to write home about.

Service was competent and friendly. In all, we enjoyed out time there.

La Grande Boucherie
145 W 53rd St.
New York City
+1 (212) 510 7714

Monday – Friday 08:00 AM - 12:00 AM
Saturday – Sunday 10:00 AM - 12:00 AM

A’s Cafe – San Leandro – Breakfast Review

A’s Cafe opened where Blossom and several other Chinese restaurants used to be.  It’s still a Chinese restaurant for lunch (I think it’s closed for dinner), but they now serve American breakfast.  That’s what we went for a few weeks ago.  My family left satisfied, I was less than impressed.

Let’s be honest here, if what you want is plain breakfast food – plain pancakes, omelets or eggs, and hashbrowns, A’s Cafe won’t disappoint.  They do the basics well but that’s all they do, the basics.

If you want something more in your pancakes – some blueberries? chocolate chips? bananas? -, a crepe or some other fancy breakfast concoction, then A’s Cafe is not for you.

So it’s not the place for me.

We all had some combination of pancakes, eggs and breakfast meats. They were fine, not exciting. I had a hot chocolate, same thing.  I wouldn’t go back because if I go out for breakfast, I want something special, but I’m sure the rest of my family would.

A’s Cafe
14807 E 14th St
San Leandro, CA
(510) 816-1187
https://www.facebook.com/ascafeinsanleandro

M-Su 6:30 AM – 3 PM

San Leandro Restaurant Reviews

Four Seasons Cafe & Deli – San Leandro – Review

Four Seasons Cafe & Deli is the latest incarnation of the cafe and sandwich bar that was once Mr. Bagel and, before that, Planet Coffee.  The cafe has been remodeled a little bit and the menu has been updated.  The Middle Eastern owners, for example, have replaced the Vietnamese sandwiches with me Middle Eastern equivalents.  You can order chicken, lamb, falafel or hummus plates for $8, lamb or chicken shawarmas, falafel, chicken or turkey wraps and traditional sandwiches for about $6.  Vegetarians will have plenty to chose from, including a Mediterranean veggie sandwich that comes with fresh mozarella, Kalamata olives, spinach, tomatoes, red pepper pesto and balsamic vinaigrette on toasted focaccia.  I haven’t had it, but it sure sounds good 🙂

What I did have was the lamb shawarma.  It was good without being extraordinary.  Pretty much what you would expect a lamb shawarma to be.  The portion was pretty large, in particular considering the $6 price.  I’d have it again.

Four Seasons also offers breakfast bagel and croissant sandwiches, fresh orange and carrot juice and your basic coffeeshop drinks.  I had their coffee once and it was pretty good, but I’m not demanding coffee wise.

The new menu seems to have quite a few fans, in my last visit, the place was busier than it used to be.  The service was good and the cafe still a great place to meet up with friends – as well as have a cheap lunch in San Leandro.

Four Seasons Cafe & Deli
1423 E. 14th St.
San Leandro, CA
510-667-1004
Free local delivery with $20 order
M-Sa 6 am – 6 pm
Su 7 am – 5 pm

Marga’s San Leandro Restaurant Reviews

Omelet House – Las Vegas – Review

Mika, my 9 yo, really wanted to go out for breakfast on our last day in Las Vegas.  I thought about doing the breakfast buffet at the MGM Grand, but the buffet gets terrible review in Yelp plus it’s quite expensive.  So I decided to stop at a run-of-the-mill family restaurant on our way out of Las Vegas.  As it turned out, after packing, putting the stuff in the car and finding a bank, it was 11:30 AM before we were ready for breakfast.  The Omelet House on West Charleston was the first restaurant that we came across so stopped there.

The Omelet House is yet another old-style all-American restaurant, with the type of ambiance and menu you can expect from that type of restaurant, albeit this one seemed a bit more crowded and run down than most.  It has great atmosphere, however.  They serve breakfast all day, the standard fare you can expect from this sort of restaurant.  I ordered the “stuffed french toast” ($8.40), which consisted of two slices of French toast with some blueberry compote between them. It came with two slices of bacon and two eggs.  The French Toast was pretty good, nothing out of this world but it was tasty enough.  The bacon was your average kind, again not particularly special, as were the eggs.  A satisfying meal, all in all, and one that kept me until we had dinner, well past 8 PM.

Both kids had pancakes with chocolate chips. Camila had a single one ($3.70) and Mika the “flap special” ($8.50) which consisted of two pancakes, two pieces of bacon and two eggs.  They both liked the very large pancakes. The chocolate chips came on the side, but they melted on the very hot pancakes.  The accompanying butter was salted, which I personally don’t like on sweet foods.

Mike didn’t get anything, thinking that the girls were going to leave a lot of food, but it turned out that the girls were hungrier than we thought.

In all, the Omelet House was a fine, though not particularly outstanding, choice for breakfast.  I’d go again, but would not seek it out.

Omelet House
2160 West Charleston
Las Vegas, NV
(702) 384-6868
http://www.omelethouse.net/

Marga’s Restaurant Reviews – Outside the Bay Area

JD’s Restaurant & Pies – Castro Valley – Review Update

(This is an update from a 2003 review)

San Leandro still doesn’t have any good, affordable places to go for breakfast/brunch, so on the rare occasions when we treat ourselves to morning food we usually go to JD’s in Castro Valley.  Their food is good, though not great, but I know what I’m getting.

What I got during my last visit – what I always get – is the ricotta French Toast, covered with fresh strawberries and cream. This is an impressive dish and quite good, though I can’t help to feel it’s missing something. Sweetness perhaps? Macerated strawberries would be nicer, I think.  The crispy bacon it came with was very good.  This dish is “market price”, and I don’t know how much it was, probably in the neighborhood of $10.

Mike had the Cajun omelet with andouille sausage ($8.50).  He liked it, but wished the sausage had been chopped and mixed into the omelet.  The accompanying potatoes were pretty good.

In all, a solid though not spectacular meal. We’ll return, but wish there were better options nearby.

JD’s Restaurant
2837 Castro Valley Blvd.
Castro Valley , CA
510-537-3862

 

 

Original Review

Bay Area Restaurant Reviews