Big Breakfasts

The food: breakfasts on the road

Multi-Grain Clairecakes from Claire's on Cedros

The story:

My usual idea of breakfast is one piece of hot buttered toast eaten in my own kitchen, and my idea of brunch is lunch. Sure, once upon a time I was into the whole queuing up and fighting the crowd thing to get into a restaurant for Sunday brunch – back when I was young, childless, had a higher metabolic rate, and my non-renewable lifetime supply of patience was not yet close to running out.

I thought those days were gone until my nest emptied, I began to travel more, and I found myself seeking restaurant-served eggy meals while away from home. Especially after a strenuous morning hike.

This new appetite for brunch led me, for instance, to a tastes-better-than-it-looks breakfast sandwich, consisting of two fried eggs, local bacon, avocado, ‘Canreg Station’ hillbilly cheese, and tomato-chili-lime mayo on grilled sourdough at Le Chien Noir in Kingston, Ontario, served with crisped yet soft frites that kinda stole the show.

And at Claire’s on Cedros, in Solana Beach, California, I lined up and waited for a table on a sunny Sunday, even after calling ahead, to be rewarded with excellent multi-grain (whole-wheat and oat) “Clairecakes” shown at top, served with strawberries, butter and syrup.

Though the other selections we tried, including the fried green tomato sandwich shown here, were more meh than great.

All great and not at all meh were two quite different but excellent breakfasts I have happily eaten: one at Matt’s Big Breakfast in Phoenix, Arizona, and one at Little Dom’s in Los Angeles.

Matt’s is a small diner-type restaurant in downtown Phoenix which serves an all-day breakfast, has been featured on Guy Fieri’s Diners Drive-Ins and Dives show on the Food Network, and has hungry customers lined up in front of it every day of the week.

Two things make Matt’s breakfasts great: high quality artisanal ingredients, and skilled cooking. I neglected to photograph my hog and chick (farm-fresh eggs with bacon, sausage or ham) plate when I was there (I was too busy devouring it) but the thick-cut Niman Ranch bacon is deliciously porky and peppery, the home fries (shown below with an omelette) are crunchy/soft and perfumed with fresh rosemary, and the buttered whole-grain toast served with preserves from Terra Verde Farms is SO GOOD I wished I could take home a loaf and a jar.

Matt's Big Breakfast on Urbanspoon

More beautifully browned and crunchy potatoes, this time fried with garlic and parsley, can be had at Little Dom’s, a cool-vibe, hipster-ish restaurant that serves breakfast all day (it also serves Italianate lunches and dinners), inside three joined storefronts in the groovy Los Feliz neighbourhood of L.A.

With the potatoes, my not-as-into-breakfast husband E had a salmon sandwich:

and I had a gorgeous and tantalizing plate of poached eggs with roasted mushrooms, grilled bread and fennel pollen Hollandaise. Fennel pollen!

Little Dom's on Urbanspoon

Worth an hour-long hike up and down Runyon Canyon to work it off, fo’ sho’.