Monday, November 21, 2011

El Torito Sunday Brunch

El Torito serves a buffet style Sunday Brunch at various locations. Participating locations in Orange County include Irvine, Laguna Hills, Anaheim, Cypress, Fullerton, Orange, Tustin, Westminster and Yorba Linda. Brunch is currently $15.99 for adults and $5.99 for kids 12 and under. The Mexican-style buffet brunch offers a street taco bar, an omelette station and several hot and cold food options. The brunch also includes all-you-can-drink champagne. Visit the following link for more info:

Sunday, November 20, 2011

CLOSED-Royal Hawaiian Saturday and Sunday Brunch - Laguna Beach-CLOSED

Royal Hawaiian Laguna Beach
331 North Coast Highway
Laguna Beach, California 92651
(949) 494-8001

I was fortunate enough to try the new weekend brunch at Royal Hawaiian in Laguna Beach. One of the best things about the new brunch is that it is served on both Saturday and Sunday. No more waiting until Sunday to have brunch! The brunch, called Kakahiaka, is served from 11:00 AM-4:00 PM and features a variety of island inspired breakfast and lunch fare.

We started our meal off with a couple of appetizers. We got the Hawaiian Coconut Shrimp ($13) and the Ahi Tuna Poke ($15). The coconut shrimp was nice and crunchy with plenty of coconut flavor. It wasn't as sweet as some other coconut shrimp that I have had, which I consider to be a good thing. It was very nicely balanced. The Ahi Tuna Poke was very good. The chef has won some awards for this poke. The poke was made with huge fresh chunks of raw ahi tuna, marinated with chile, lime, soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger and chopped macadamia nuts and served with wonton chips. I prefer a little more of a spicy kick, but it was still very good and fresh tasting.
For my entree I ordered Loco Moco ($13) and a side of Maui Onion Rings ($7). Loco Moco is a popular Hawaiian breakfast dish that consists of a hamburger patty on top of a mound of rice that is covered with a couple of over easy eggs and brown gravy. The elements of this dish are pretty standard wherever you go, but the dish rarely tastes the same from restaurant to restaurant. One of the most, if not the most, important factors for determining a good loco moco is the gravy. The gravy at the Royal Hawaiian had a little bit of a spicy kick to it but was a little light. I prefer a slightly darker, richer and bolder gravy. I still enjoyed the gravy here, I just wished it was a little bolder.
The Maui Onion rings were battered and fried perfectly. The crunchy exterior gave way to perfectly cooked, slightly sweet oniony goodness. These onion rings were probably my favorite part of the meal. The onion rings were served with a slightly spicy sriracha aioli. The portion was rather large as well.
V ordered the Coconut French Toast ($13) as her entree. It was served with portugese sausage and fruit salad. The portugese sausage was oven-baked which resulted in a nice even crust around each piece of sausage. V really enjoyed her meal. Her only complaint was that the french toast was a little dry. She still thought it was very good though. She thought that the fruit salad that came on top was perfectly balanced and had just the right flavor to complement the french toast. She also said that the Portugese sausage was very yummy.
After our meal we were offered a sample sized bread pudding. The bread pudding was made with hawaiian sweet bread. It was dense, but not overly so. It had a nice balanced flavor. V said that it was the second best bread pudding she has ever had.
Overall, I would highly recommend the Royal Hawaiian for anyone looking for a Hawaiian style brunch. The prices are reasonable for what you get and the food is pretty tasty. The only thing that would make this brunch better would be if it came with all-you-can-drink champagne. The interior of the restaurant is also a little dim and drabby. This seems to be ok for dinner time, but during brunch it seemed a little depressing. A little extra light and some upbeat Hawaiian music could help a lot in improving the atmosphere.

Thanks go out to Jennifer at Ajenda PR for inviting me to the launch of The Royal Hawaiian's weekend brunch!
Royal Hawaiian on Urbanspoon

Sundried Tomato Cafe Saturday and Sunday Brunch - San Juan Capistrano

31781 Camino Capistrano
San Juan Capistrano, CA


Review and Prices last updated 5/29/2008

My wife and I stopped in San Juan Capistrano last weekend on the way back from San Diego. We were fully intending to have brunch at Ramos House Café. We hadn’t been there for a while, but we remembered it fondly. We walked up to the Ramos House Café and looked at the menu. The first thing I noticed was that their price for brunch had gone up again. The price is now $35 per person and includes one beverage, one small appetizer and one entrée. If you want dessert it is $7-$10 extra. Most of the entrees also just seemed to be scrambled eggs with a few toppings thrown in. My wife and I discussed it for a minute and decided our money would be better spent elsewhere.

We walked back across the train tracks and made a right on Camino Capistrano. The first restaurant we saw was called Sundried Tomato Café. They had a large banner that proclaimed they were now serving breakfast. “Perfect,” I said. We went into the restaurant and were immediately seated at a nice table on their outside patio. Since it was 1:30 PM on a Sunday, we were given both a breakfast and a lunch menu.

We were both in the mood for breakfast, so we just looked at the breakfast menu. I immediately spotted something called “Wild Mushroom Lasagna ($13.00 I think).” It was made with layers of wild mushroom, tomatoes and red potatoes. I decided that I would order this with a side of their Mustard Pepper Bacon ($4.00). My wife decided to order Eggs Benedict ($13.00). We both ordered a cup of coffee to go with our meal ($3.00 each).

After a few minutes the waiter brought us a breadbasket and our coffee. The breadbasket was filled with slices of baguette and then topped off with a couple of pine nut cinnamon rolls. The coffee our waiter poured was good but had a lot of coffee grounds in it. The cinnamon rolls seemed to be made out of puff pastry and were very light. They were ok, but I wasn’t crazy about them.

Then came the bad news. They were out of Wild Mushroom Lasagna. I was devastated. I really wanted to try this dish. It took me forever to find something else to eat. Not because they didn’t have anything good, but because my mind was already set on eating the wild mushroom lasagna. After looking over the menu a few times I finally decided to keep my side of Mustard Pepper Bacon and also order a cup of Sundried Tomato Soup ($5.00) and an order of Mini Filet of Beef Tacos ($12.00).

Our waiter apologized and said that he would rush our order. He kept his word and we received our food a few minutes later. My wife’s Eggs Benedict looked delicious. The hollandaise sauce looked a little watery to me but she said it was pretty good. She added a little lemon juice to it and said that it was perfect. She really enjoyed her entire meal.

I looked at my bacon and noticed that it looked really shiny. I was expecting this bacon to be completely savory with lots of black pepper and mustard. Instead, it was very sweet. It must have actually been “Honey” Mustard Pepper Bacon. They really should have stated that on the menu. It kind of reminded me of a Honeybaked ham. It was pretty good though considering I’m not a big fan of sweet bacon.

The Sundried Tomato soup had a much lighter color than I expected. I expected it to be as red as sundried tomatoes. The soup was made with cream and gorgonzola cheese. It was pretty good but I felt it could have had a stronger tomato flavor.

The steak tacos were served with blueberry radish salsa and goat cheese. The saltiness of the steak combined with the sweetness of the blueberries and the creaminess of the goat cheese was absolutely fantastic. The squiggle of hot sauce they put on the plate was actually pretty spicy and really tasted good with the tacos.

Overall I really enjoyed eating at this place. Eating on their outdoor patio was really peaceful and the food was pretty good. I would definitely eat here again if I were in the area. I’m looking forward to trying a lot more of their lunch and dinner items.

Sundried Tomato Café on Urbanspoon

Marie Callender's Sunday Brunch - Irvine

15363 Culver Drive, Irvine, CA 92604
949-552-2101 | FAX 949-552-2132

Hours: M-Th 11-10, Fri & Sat 11-11, Sun 9-10
Brunch Hours: Sun 9am-2pm

Marie Callender's brunch seems to be one of my default brunch places. I don't go to brunch every Sunday, but when I do it's often at the Irvine Marie Callender's. A combination of both great food, a reasonable price($15.95) and free-flowing champagne makes this an excellent value.

Marie Callender's takes their soup and salad bar and adds on many other food stations, including a carving station, an omelette station, a hot buffet, a pasta bar, a dessert bar and a belgian waffle station.

The food here is not gourmet, but very good considering the price. One of my only complaints is that they do not offer bacon on their hot buffet. Typical items you will see on the hot buffet include chicken enchiladas, quiche, eggs benedict, country potatoes, sausage, biscuits and gravy and more. They will be more than happy to use "egg beaters" if you prefer at the omelette bar, and you also select your own toppings so you can have as much or as little as you want. At the waffle bar, they also offer waffle cone bowls and vanilla ice cream with plenty of whipped cream, sauces and candy toppings.