Thursday, March 25, 2010

BrunchOUT: Zazie (San Francisco)

Brunch, as much of a New York staple as we'd like to believe, does exist and can be well represented in other parts of the country. Like other regional food differences that appear in other meals, brunch items also vary according to local preferences. Thankfully, Babes who Brunch are from differing parts of the U.S. and will report back on brunches during our travels.

I (Melissa speaking!) was recently in San Francisco on vacation, and started off the trip right with brunch to cure my jet-lag. At the recommendation of my San Franciscan host, we went to a popular brunch spot in Cole Valley - Zazie's, a cute French bistro with a line out the door to rival those in New York. There was a sign-up sheet on the outside window, with a warning not to ask how long the wait is. Simply multiply the number of patrons before you by 3 minutes, and that's the estimated wait time. The system seemed to be relatively accurate, so I'm curious to see if that would work in New York.

Line outside Zazie's

When our names were finally called, we were led to a bright and cozy back garden area with wooden benches, surrounded by greenery and signature colorful San Franciscan townhouses. On our table was this adorable hand-made "Reserved" sign:


The Food 

Perhaps I'm used to the amount of pre-fixe brunches in New York, but I was surprised not to find that option here. The menu was extensive, covering anything from a French Toast Tahiti, challah stuffed with caramelized bananas and walnuts, to tartines and even a Mediterranean Plate. A few items, such as eggs or pancakes, conveniently came in price tiers according to the number of each that you wanted.

The New Yorker in me found the Scrambled Egg New York with wild smoked salmon, green onions, and cream cheese to be amusing. Instead, my friend and I both chose to go for poached eggs, served on top of an English muffin with homefries on the side.

Poached Eggs Monaco  
Light Hollandaise sauce, Zoe’s proscuitto and tomatoes provencales ($12)

Poached Eggs Monaco

Poached Eggs Valence 
Roasted eggplant and spicy tomato-chevre sauce ($11)

Poached Eggs Valence

Another tempting, Californian-sounding dish was the Poached Eggs La Mer, with fresh hand picked dungeness crab, green onions, and Haas avocados ($17). Perhaps another time, but I planned to get my fill of avocados throughout the week anyways.

The poached eggs were the highlight of the dishes, evident of really fresh free-range eggs. This first taste of San Francisco gave a sneak peak at the difference between New York that so many people have pointed out already. The primary focus is on fine, fresh ingredients that treat the body well, not about reinventing the concept of a Eggs Florentine.

The Bottom Dollar

The humanistic view even extends to the additional SF Health Care Ordinance charge of $1 per person added to all checks. As taken aback as I was to see this involuntary surcharge, there's not too much to argue against providing better work benefits for employees.

SF Health Ordinance

The Bottom Line

Overall, not a bad start to a week of eating indulgence in San Francisco. Time flies by with a cup of coffee, puppies all around, and best of all, a personal sunbath in the back garden. 

Back Garden

941 Cole Street 
San Francisco, CA 94117

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