Pluma

I don’t usually do breakfast at all, let alone breakfast out, but it was Wednesday, and I was desperately needing to take myself on a coffee date. And sometimes on dates, things just happen that we might later regret. In this case, food.

First of all, even since the last time I reviewed a place in Union Market, this place has changed significantly. I live basically around the corner and I didn’t even realize until last weekend all the hipster eateries and shops that have sprung up in between the Chinese butcheries. This whole area now smells like a weird mixture of pig blood and avocado toast (a menu option that appears–laughably–on the menus at both Pluma and Blue Bottle across the street).

I perused the pastries. I fretted over the menu. And then I settled on maybe the most unhealthy thing on the entire menu: the breakfast sammy. And a latte.

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The latte:

Mellow, smooth, bitter, and creamy. Small, but at $4, still a better deal than the $7 paper-cup, too-cold POS latte I got last weekend across the street at Blue Bottle (it didn’t even have latte art!) This was a great drink to chill out with by the window with a good book.

 

 

The breakfast sammy includes green salsa, pork belly, and a runny egg served on Pluma’s fresh sourdough. In short, it puts other breakfast sandwiches to shame. The toasty sour bread held up okay to the wet salsa, but the real pleasure of this was in the thick, maple-y sweet slab of pork belly that, while not exactly being fork-tender, had a great crust around the edge that reminded me of a solid BBQ bark. And if you like your eggs as runny as possible, you’ve come to the right place.

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So, like many dates, this one ended with a decision that wasn’t exactly the best, but that I don’t really regret either.

Price: $15 per person.

Bottom line: Mmmmm.

Crimson

My interest in Crimson was twofold: first, their whiskey lounge had been recommended by the bartenders at a different whiskey lounge. Second, I had a coupon passport that entitled me to a free whiskey with the purchase of another whiskey. So, whiskey. The diner was just an added bonus, and a weird concept.

The diner on the ground floor was, in fact, nearly empty when we came in, even though it was 7:45 on a Friday. Maybe Crimson diner gets busier with the brunch crowd, or maybe this is just a really strange combination of restaurants. Personally, I don’t think of drinking fancy cocktails while I’m ordering eggs benedict, but you do you, people.

Our server talked us into the fried green tomatoes, and we also ordered a plate of their deviled eggs to share. The fried green tomatoes were excellent, and prepared me for a great meal, though admittedly, most of their awesomeness was derived from the spicy mayo and crumbly cheese on top. The deviled eggs were made with pickled eggs, which I like as a general concept, but it didn’t really add anything. No issues with them, though.

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Crimson’s menu is, in a word, overwhelming. I was actually stressed out looking at this. Breakfast? Dinner? Small plates? Entrees? Burgers? There are just too many options here.

Among other dishes at our table were my rainbow trout, which I settled on after about twenty minutes of agonizing over the decision, my husband’s monte cristo, and my mother-in-law’s fried chicken sandwich.

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The trout was a big, full-sized platter; so big that I barely ate half. The fish was cooked well, the potatoes were nicely crisp and the carrots were soft. The whole thing was drowning in caper butter, which sounds delicious but honestly felt a little lazy. Everything tastes good when it’s covered in butter and this was at least half a stick of it.

The fried chicken sandwich was excellent. The chicken was moist on the inside, super crunchy on the outside, the bun had a subtle sweetness, and the whole thing was great with the tartness from their house pickles. Although it normally comes with chips or fries, Crimson was happy to oblige a side salad, which would have been great if it weren’t the most stupid and uselessly composed salad of all time (my husband, who also ordered a side salad, ate his lettuce rolled up with his hands like you might imagine Ariel would do in The Little Mermaid, if Eric had served her salad).

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Here’s a monte cristo. It was delicious, was made better by the addition of currant jelly, and came with another stupid salad. No major complaints, but also no great praise. If you can put ham on bread and operate a griddle, you could make this at home. You’d probably also make a more eater-friendly salad.

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My mother-in-law is a sucker for milkshakes, and totally deserved an alcoholic one after a really long work week. Similar to Ari’s Diner, Crimson’s selection of flavors is nothing extraordinary. They were willing to make a small concession in trading vanilla for chocolate ice cream in their coffee-themed shake. The result was okay. This is no Ted’s Bulletin shake, let’s just say that.

After dinner, we went downstairs to check out this famed whiskey lounge. The music-thumping, dimly-lit, leather-clad downstairs bears no resemblance to the old-school diner vibe of upstairs. They had a not extremely large selection of whiskeys, but it was nothing to sneeze at either, and they had some interesting stuff from places, like California and Colorado. Remember that passport coupon I had? It entitled the bearer to a buy-one-get-one on “any whiskey $15 or under,” which is basically like Maserati advertising a sale on economy compacts. I understand that whiskey ain’t cheap, but come on, Crimson. Try to write a coupon that’s a little less dripping with douchiness.

Price: $35 per person.

Bottom line: Crimson tries hard to be Ted’s Bulletin but comes up short. The food was alright diner food with a hefty price tag (update: and more expensive than Ted’s!) The whiskey lounge downstairs is worth checking out if you have a group too big to fit inside Copycat, or just happen to be hanging out in Chinatown.

Fox Loves Taco

I don’t review a lot of breakfast places because I don’t eat breakfast often. But what better time to try something new than when old friends are in town? By the time we arrived, we were starving because we were stuck on Europe time after arriving home last night. I don’t think my best friend appreciated the long walk required for simple breakfast.

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I thought I would just be getting my usual breakfast of iced coffee but Fox Loves Taco knows what they’re doing when it comes to breakfast and vegetarian menu options. It took me working through a lot of guilt to go with my gut instinct and order an iced honey cinnamon latte. My husband and I decdied to split three tacos: the Wham! (I was drawn in by the poached egg), the Casablanca (apricot chipotle?!), and the Chuck (because you can’t say the words “duck fat” and not expect me to come running). We ordered all of them on the house special sweet potato tortilla.

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Honey cinnamon latte did not disappoint. It was like the world’s most perfect horchata. Fox Loves Taco also has horchata, so never fear, decaffeinated people! It was slightly sweet, had a good spice from the cinnamon, and was just creamy and delicious.

MVIMG_20180630_083207.jpgStarting with the left: the Casablanca had delicious sweet and sour cabbage slaw that complemented the lightly smoky lentils. This taco was the dark horse of the bunch. In the middle is the Chuck. I know ground chicken sucks but I expected something slightly more chorizo-y than this. It was very plain, and even the pickled onions couldn’t save it. The Wham! was definitely the most breakfasty of the bunch, and the poached egg probably would have been better if I wasn’t trying to share it and therefore didn’t end up spilling runny egg everywhere and all over myself. Sometimes I feel like poached eggs just exist for chefs’ bragging rights because nothing makes it actually better than a solid over-easy, and it’s infinitely messier. A final note on the sweet potato tortillas: the hardened and slightly scaly texture didn’t make them ideal vessels for liquidy taco guts.

Price: $10 per person.

Bottom line: In coffee, Fox Loves Taco receives a solid A. Food was a C/C+, overrated hipster crap, and not worth returning.