Friday, August 13, 2010
West Coast Brunch Bets: Dottie's True Blue Cafe
Each morning, as dozens of San Franciscans line up for breakfast at Mama's on Washington Square, an equally strong contingent can be found waiting outside Dottie's True Blue Cafe. Dottie's was the first restaurant referral I received when I told friends about my trip to San Francisco, and after eating there its easy to understand why this down-to-earth breakfast cafe has such appeal. Although both restaurants are legendary egg-cracking, pancake-flipping and hash-flinging San Francisco institutions, they couldn't be further apart both location wise and stylistically. Everything about Mama's exudes warmth, located in the attractive North Beach district, the restaurant is perfect for tourists or for a breakfast with the parents. Then there's Dottie's, located deep in the Tenderloin district whose streets are littered with broken glass and reeking of urine, this gem sacrifices ambiance in return for incredibly solid and filling breakfasts, perfect for any working man, or woman for that matter.
Well aware of Dottie's reputation for their long lines, MW and I decided to arrive early. Seated after a quick five-minute wait, our waitress immediately greeted with hot coffee. In between sips, we perused the restaurant's specials board and list of freshly baked goods. Knowing we had a big day ahead and wanting to avoid food coma, we decided to pass on the baked goods and proceeded straight to ordering.
MW chose the Blueberry-Cornmeal Pancakes, a specialty of the restaurant. Three large and admittedly fluffy pancakes, speckled with blueberries arrived along with a side of pure maple syrup. Light and bursting with blueberry flavor, the pancakes were good but not great. Perhaps jaded by the pancakes at Clinton Street Baking Company, I expected and was slightly disappointed by the lack of cornmeal flavor and texture in Dottie's version.
My Smoked Whiskey Fennel Sausage, Mushroom and Baby Spinach Scramble arrived with a heaping portion of Home Fries and a thick slice of the restaurant's Homemade Grilled Chili Cornbread with Jalapeño Jelly. Loaded with huge chunks of smokey sausage, accented with anise from the fennel, and a generous amount of mushrooms and baby spinach, the scramble was representative of Dottie's food, good and filling food.
Sizzling away on the flat top, the Home Fries, a mound of roughly cut new potatoes, were solid. Sporting a beautifully caramelized crust, the potatoes were both crispy and tender.
But the most surprising component of the dish was the Grilled Chili Cornbread with Jalapeño Jelly. Not the least bit dry, grilling the cornbread lent a smokey flavor that complimented the sweet and spicy jalapeño jelly perfectly.
Unlike its rival over on North Beach, Dottie's True Blue Cafe looks, feels and tastes more like a locals favorite. Here, you won't find any fancy omelets with seafood appealing to those looking for lighter fare, instead, the scrambles come studded with meats and cheese, sure to fill the largest of appetites. Situated in an area brimming with character, Dottie's lives up to its name, serving up satisfying breakfast classics and given the restaurant's neighborhood, can truly be considered a diamond in the rough.
Dottie's True Blue Cafe
522 Jones Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
To see all our pics click the flickr link.