On weekdays, we may grab lunch on the run and sandwich dinner between obligations, but a weekend brunch is never a hurried affair.
A sublime stack of blueberry pancakes or a perfectly poached egg perched on toasted ciabatta -- and made by someone else -- is all it takes to elicit a sigh of utter contentment. Draw a heart in our latte froth, and we are yours forever.
We're besotted with brunch. And after you've tried this trio of brunch spots, you will be, too.
Jack's Restaurant and Bar
Address: 60 Crescent Drive, Suite A, Pleasant Hill.
Contact: 925-849-6195; http://jacksrestaurants.com.
Hours: 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Sundays-Mondays, 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Tuesdays-Thursdays, and 8 a.m.-11 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays.
Brunch tab: $32.65 for two entrees and two drinks.
Jack's is not overstating the word when it slaps "special" next to seven of its breakfast dishes.
The restaurant that won me over with its creatively delicious spins on macaroni and cheese has done it again with breakfast. All that's needed is an open mind, a hearty appetite and a tough choice between dining inside or out. (Patio dining is a real treat on warm days.)
Sweet meets savory with Southern Comfort ($12.95), a seemingly odd pairing of Belgian waffle topped with country fried steak, country gravy and two eggs over medium. The different textures and flavors melded like a tapestry to create a unique taste that had me feeling satisfied after only a dozen bites.
The Greek Scramble ($9.95), on the other hand, was all about savory. Served with hash browns and toast, the scramble whipped together three eggs, gyro meat, tomato, green onion and feta cheese for a dish that conjured memories of a visit to Greece, where breakfast never tasted even half this good.
Portion sizes were significant. There was no skimping on the champagne in the mimosa, either. Jack's, it seems, is all about satisfying -- and teasing the senses. My neighbor's Bananas Foster French Toast with caramelized bananas and cinnamon cream ($8.95) had me envious enough that a return trip is already in the works.
-- A. Tatko-Peterson
Address: 411 Hartz Ave., Danville
Contact: 925-984-2713, http://sideboarddanville.com
Hours: 7:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Sundays-Mondays, 7:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Tuesdays- Saturdays
Brunch tab: $25.23 for two
Ford and Erin Andrews' charming little coffee house draws a steady stream of happy breakfasters every day of the week, but when the weekend rolls around, the line never stops. This historic old building hasn't been an inn for decades, but the signage still proclaims it the Old Danville Hotel, and it has that wonderful, quirky feel of a bygone age.
Amble up to the counter to order food and drinks -- Blue Bottle drip and espresso, hot cocoa or grapefruit-basil juice. Then grab a little sign (ours declared us "Crisp") so your server can find your table in the cozy parlor or out on the porch.
Everything on the menu sounds delicious, from the Eggs Benedict served over house-made English muffins to the French toast, pastries and extremely popular beignets. Families lined up to order those beignets or to settle into comfy chairs for a leisurely, low-key breakfast with friends, babies and -- outside on the porch -- a well-behaved dog.
On this particular morning, we surrendered to the siren call of scrambled eggs with chunks of bacon ($8.75), a dish that arrived in a deep, square bowl filled with creamy, fluffy, deliciousness. The huevos rancheros ($8.75) offered a twist from the classic sauce-doused, egg-topped tortilla dish. Here, the eggs were topped with a fresh avocado-mango salsa and a festive flourish of fried tortilla ribbons.
And my latte ($3.50) had a heart drawn in the foam. I'm smitten.
-- J. Burrell
The Mixing Bowl
Address: 4920 Telegraph Ave., Oakland.
Contact: 510-655-5630; www.mixingbowloakland.com.
Hours: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays; 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays.
Brunch tab: $29.10.
The Mixing Bowl is all about culinary whimsy that doesn't skimp on heartiness.
Take the Doughnut Muffin ($2), a classic glazed doughnut morphed into a mouthwatering muffin warm out of the oven and topped with rainbow sprinkles. Or the Bacon Fried Rice ($8.50), a bowl or burrito full of eggs, carrots, shiitake mushrooms, peas and homemade kimchi so savory and satisfying you have to wonder why the Chinese didn't think of it sooner. The menu may be small, but each item is a home run.
Owner Grace Lee's experience as a personal chef, wedding planner and caterer is the golden trifecta for success. Add to that the tempting salts, honeys, candies, and just-jarred pickled goods lining the shelves and counters of this stylish cafe, and you may get carried away.
We loved the Farmer's Scramble ($9.35), a plate of eggs with warm bacon, arugula, cheddar cheese, sweet corn kernels, chopped scallions and a blend of sweet and regular potato home fries. Egg entrees, including the Mixing Bowl Breakfast ($7.50) -- two eggs your way with Mixing Bowl home fries and grilled Acme bread -- come with a smattering of fresh berries.
I think what makes the entrees particularly appetizing is that the kitchen uses great ingredients in suitable portions, and they serve everything warm. Cold eggs are just gross. I only wish we had room for indulgences like the Bread Pudding French Toast ($8.50), served with syrup and fresh seasonal fruit. I'll try it the next time I run out of Habanero Salt ($2.50) and have to make a trip back to Mixing Bowl.
-- J. Yadegaran