Tartine Manufactory is the brainchild of Chad Robertson and Liz Prueitt, who originally created Tartine Bakery in the Mission. I’m sad to say it took me this long to finally go to Tartine Manufactory, as it’s been open for a few months, but with all… Read More
Duck & Waffle may be hands down one of the best brunches I’ve ever had. Of course, it’s on the other side of the world and incredibly busy! Perched on the 40th floor of the Heron Tower, 2 floors up from the popular Sushi Samba, Duck & Waffle has the most amazing food and one of the best views in all of London.
The only reservation I could get for the week that I would be in London was a 3:30PM brunch on a random weekday. While it wasn’t packed inside, it was still bustling with people from all over the world enjoying their late-time brunch as we were, or transitioning to the late lunch menu.
As a sucker for all things brunch, we stuck to the classics – the Duck & Waffle and the Smoked Scottish Salmon flatbread.
The Duck & Waffle blew Chicken & Waffles out of the water (and I LOVE Chicken & Waffles. But I love duck more). The Duck & Waffle, the namesake of the restaurant, was a crispy leg confit and fried duck egg on top of a Belgian waffle with a mustard maple syrup on the side. While incredibly flavorful and filling, I could definitely eat 6 of these in one sitting. I could see why this is the favorite dish of the restaurant: the meat was tender and rich, with perfectly runny yolk and a fluffy Belgian waffle. The mustard maple syrup flawlessly tied the sweet and savory flavors of the dish together.
The Smoked Scottish Salmon flatbread was another mind-blowing favorite for me, as I’m addicted to all things smoked salmon. The flatbread was light, with the perfect amount of creamy shmear, and topped with pickled cucumber and sprigs of dill. I could have eaten 6 of these as well. With the Duck & Waffle.
The third dish on the table is the Puy Lentils, ordered by my vegetarian friend that doesn’t understand brunch (sorry Becca 😘 ). However, I’m glad she did because it was delicious! Although I wouldn’t order 6 of these (I’d be too full from the other two x 6), the combination of spinach, sweet onion, yogurt, miso, and nasturtiums (I had to google that, it’s the little edible flowers) was a sweet and savory surprise that went perfectly with the house bread (which looks almost like a flatbread too).
The brunch, however, would not have been complete without this view!
Duck & Waffle overlooks ‘The City,’ aka London’s Financial District, with the giant Gherkin (a pickle shaped building) right next to it, and a view of Tower Bridge, Tower of London, the Thames, and St Paul’s Cathedral on the opposite side. It was absolutely incredible and slightly terrifying at the same time, knowing we were casually sipping wine and eating a 3:30 brunch 40 floors high.
I would definitely recommend, or more like order you to book a meal at Duck & Waffle, if not for the delicious food at least for the amazing view!
London EC2N 4AY
PS. Dress well 😉
On a trip down to Santa Barbara for the weekend, I mapped a out a couple of cafés I could visit to get my caffeine fix – and to find a little piece of home. Handlebar Coffee Roasters, located on a side street off the downtown strip of State St., was exactly what I was looking for. With locally roasted coffee and a multitude of hot and cold drinks to choose from, as well as the long line looping outside the building, I knew I was in the right place.
While the café wasn’t necessarily large, it had outdoor seating, a large community table, and massive windows where light streamed in. At the counter, Handlebar sells small pastries and snacks, and on a shelf to the right, offers bags of coffee beans and teas, as well as different flavors of chai.
Established by two bikers turned coffee roasters, Handlebar couldn’t go wrong! It’s definitely worth the visit and is only a short turn off of State St, downtown.
128 E Canon Perdido St
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
La Note is one of the most highly sought-after brunch places in Berkeley. Boasting gourmet French cuisine, La Note most often has wait times of over an hour, and a large crowd waiting outside.
The food was phenomenal. La Note is mostly known for their French pastries, which you can order as a filled basket, and their incredibly fluffy egg dishes, all of which come with their garlic home fries.
Their pastries include croissants, coffee cakes, brioche, tartine, and baguettes. While the basket and a brunch plate might be too much, a select few are great to share – we ordered the Toasted Cinnamon Brioche with Lavender Honey and the Sour Cream Coffee Cake Maison. I was completely taken by the Lavender Honey – the airy Cinnamon brioche dipped in the Lavender Honey was heavenly, with the Lavender leaving a subtle but lasting taste.
The main courses included a variety of egg dishes, pancakes, French brioche (fancy for French Toast), and smaller oatmeal cups. The dishes come with a side of home fries, with meaty garlic cloves as big as the potatoes, and combo dishes include the fluffiest, softest eggs you’ve ever tasted.
Above is the Les Oeufs Lucas, with Scrambled Eggs and Goat Cheese on toast and a side of home fries and roasted tomatoes. Below is the classic Two Eggs + Bacon dish, sunny side up.
I ordered the Cote Est, which was a combo plate with eggs, a pancake, and bacon or home fries. I asked the waitress for the “Swirly Pancake” after seeing multiple people enjoying them. Not only are they incredibly photogenic, but the “Swirly Pancake,” which turned out to be the Creme Fraiche pancake, was creamy and delicious too!
The coffee and eggs completely won me over, and the Creme Fraiche pancake along with the aromatic garlic and potatoes completed this incredible brunch meal. The atmosphere is perfect for family meals and cute dates, with the bustling but gentle wait staff and the romantic French environment. La Note also has a large back patio covered in greenery. This is a place I will definitely be returning to!
2377 Shattuck Ave
Berkeley, CA 94704
What brought me and my friend to Skool, tucked into a section of the Design District of San Francisco, was the Uni Flan and our obsession with seafood. Skool offers ‘Seafood with Japanese flair,’ and offers meals all throughout the day, with Vegetarian and Gluten Free menus as well. Many of the dishes they offer are rich and use fine meats and seafood, such as the Roasted Duck, Kobe Beef burger, and Squid Ink Spaghettina.
We had a late brunch, and of course ordered a boozy brunch drink (Hibiscus Prosecco – which was amazing) and the Uni Flan.
It was definitely worth coming here JUST for the Uni Flan. We hadn’t even gotten our entrees and we were already sold. The Uni Flan was a soft, light Sea Urchin flan topped with Ikura (Salmon Roe) and Fresh Uni, the perfect mixture of salt and cream. While Uni can be a hard sell (you either love it or you hate it), spread onto the small bites of crispy baguette, it was the perfect savory appetizer with the ‘seafood flair.’
For my main course, I ordered the Ton Toro Cassoulet, which was almost like a light chili with Braised Pork Cheek, a Poached Egg, white beans, and pickled jalapeños in a tomato sauce. When ordering it, I wasn’t exactly sure what would come out, but the Braised Pork Cheek was incredibly flavorful and tender with crispy outer edges, the egg was poached to perfection, and the pickled jalapeños gave a slight Mexican flavor to the classy bowl of chili I was consuming. I liked it so much that I tried to recreate it at home, but of course it wasn’t the same!
My friend ordered the Smoked Salmon Benedict with Avocado, and I have never seen such a lavish benedict! The English Muffin was topped with Spinach, Avocado, and bright slabs of Smoked Salmon, covered in a Crimini Cream sauce, a rich and creamy twist from the typical Hollandaise sauce. Don’t let the dark color of the sauce turn you off of this decadent benedict!
We were both definitely very impressed with Skool, with its rich flavors and vibrant colors, and are looking forward to coming back for brunch or trying their dinner menu! With a full bar and great patio seating, Skool will be a hot spot for SF brunching and dining.
1725 Alameda St
San Francisco, CA 94103
Brown Sugar Kitchen in Oakland is the soul food restaurant run by Tanya Holland of the Melting Pot, a show on the Food Network. What started as a small restaurant in a rarely visited area of Oakland is now a hot spot for one of the best Chicken & Waffle breakfasts in the Bay Area.
Brown Sugar Kitchen isn’t like the other Bay Area brunch spots with Benedicts and Pancakes. Brown Sugar Kitchen has a limited brunch menu, featuring a variation of Chicken & Waffles (or just chicken, or just waffle), and other items such as a Veggie Scramble and their Daily Special, which was the Pork Hash with Poached Eggs.
The Pork Hash with Poached Eggs was flavorful and had a small spice kick, which, covered in the yolk from the poached eggs, created a filling and savory breakfast. Other menu items included granola, BBQ shrimp & grits, side dishes such as sausages and eggs, and giant beignets.
The Beignets were gone within seconds. Since they weren’t too greasy or heavy, the sweet layer of powdered sugar and the fruity jams (Raspberry & Marmalade) that they were paired with created a dessert-like appetizer that didn’t make anyone feel too guilty before indulging in their Chicken & Waffles!
The Chicken & Waffles were everything I’ve dreamed of (yes, I dream about Chicken & Waffles) and more. The waffles were made out of cornmeal, which, while it was still airy and buttery, weren’t too heavy or overly sweet. The dollop of butter on top was mixed with a hint of brown sugar, lending a sugary but also molasses-y note to the waffle. The chicken, fried to perfection (one dark one white meat), was the perfect balance of savory and spice, fried with a Cajun seasoning that flavored them through to the bone. All of this with the Apple Syrup drizzle (tasted like cinnamon apple pie) created one of the best Chicken & Waffle dishes I’ve ever had. It wasn’t too heavy or greasy, and I didn’t feel overly stuffed afterwards (so naturally it left me wanting more!).
With mimosas, plenty of side items and sweet/savory options, Brown Sugar Kitchen is definitely a place I would recommend if you find yourself in this part of Oakland. The Chicken & Waffles is a MUST, and goes great with your morning coffee or mimosa!
2534 Mandela Pkwy
Oakland, CA 94607
Only 3 weeks into its opening, Wise Sons Bagel & Bakery, a derivative of the Wise Sons Deli in the Mission, has accrued a large social media gathering and become an Instagram hot spot, attracting customers from all over the city. With its NY style bagels and drool-worthy Lox photos, its no wonder there was a large line outside of the building this weekend.
Of course, I ordered the Lox Bagel, open faced, on Sesame. Lox bagels are already my go-to for a breakfast splurge, and the photos I had seen only made it that much easier to decide what to eat.
The selection of bagels may seem limiting, only because they don’t have sweet options like Blueberry or Chocolate, but they do have the classic bagel staples, which go with any of the numerous shmears they have. The different toppings make up for the lack of bagel choices, ranging from regular cream cheese to almond butter, fruit, avocado, and smoked salmon shmears. For a bigger breakfast, they make sandwiches, such as the Egg & Cheese Breakfast sandwich, Veggie Sandwiches, and the Smoked Salmon sandwich.
They also serve Intelligentsia Coffee, a popular coffee company in NYC, Chicago, and LA.
For someone who is obsessed with Lox sandwiches, I was easily won over by the thick amount of salmon and the perfect amount of cream cheese, capers, and the sprinkle of dill. However, I felt like the bagel itself was a bit hard, and didn’t have the same fluffiness that bagels usually have. It could be that I’m not used to this style of bagels, but overall the sandwich was very tasty and worth waiting in line for!
I would definitely go here again, and it is gaining a lot of popularity – it’s been open for less than a month but is already on the list for many foodies in the city, and they’ve run out of bagels by 2PM most days!
1520 Fillmore St
San Francisco, CA 94115