Sunday, June 24, 2012

Another Brunch @ Baker & Banker

[ Originally posted February 7, 2011 ]

When people ask me where my favorite brunch is in San Francisco, I've been saying Baker & Banker. Last time I went, it truly was the best brunch I'd ever had. This time, it was good, but didn't live up to my previous experience. I'm not sure how much of that was expectations or just that the current menu wasn't as good.

It was certainly solid - well executed cooking, high quality ingredients, good ambiance, and they take reservations! A great place to go with a smallish group, and it is quiet enough that you can really talk. Prices are a little high for brunch, but you aren't just getting eggs and toast here.

Coffee is Four Barrel. If you get decaf they bring you a personal french press. Mine was very good. If you get the regular, they serve it out of a big vat of already brewed coffee, that they say was french pressed in a big batch. Like last time, it wasn't good.

I've still yet to get anything from the attached bakery, although it all looks amazing. Next time ...
House Smoked Trout with potato latke, horseradish cream, pickled beets, shaved fennel.  $14.
This was well done on every level. The latke was perfectly crisp, the smoked trout flavorful, and the beets and fennel added a refreshing lightness.  This dish also appears on the dinner menu as a starter.
Eggs Benedict, with spinach, lemon hollandaise, tasso ham on house made english muffin bread.   $15.
This was good, but not nearly as good as the cajun eggs benedict they had on the menu before (that one was served over house made biscuits with a spicy cajun hollandaise and braised greens).

I think most of my disappointment in this dish came from the fact that it wasn't the version of this that I had before, and thus it didn't live up to my expectations. This was more standard and less interesting, but still well executed - as before, the eggs were poached well and the ham was absolutely delicious and added a nice salty component to the dish. I greatly preferred the more flavorful braised greens to the simple spinach in this version, the spicy hollandaise to this more subtle lemon hollandaise, and the amazing biscuits to this more boring bread. Still, a good benedict.
French Toast Bread Pudding with bananas foster, crème fraîche, toasted pecans, caramel sauce.   $12. 
Another dish that suffered from not meeting my expectations. When I had this last time, it was made with apples, cranberries, and quince instead of bananas, and had a maple syrup sauce. It was one of the best things I've ever eaten, so this had a LOT to live up to expectation-wise.

I know that there isn't much in season fruit-wise right now, so there wasn't a lot for them to work with, but the banana was kinda mushy and didn't add anything to the dish. The bread pudding itself was pretty flavorless and not very moist. The cream and nuts were tasty, but they were just cream and nuts. The caramel sauce was very sweet, and once some of the bread pudding really soaked in it, I liked it much more, but overall this really failed to impress.

[Not pictured]
Cannoli donuts.
These were fresh donut holes, filled with cannoli cream and chocolate, rolled in cinnamon and sugar. The woman at the table next to us couldn't finish her order, so she offered some of these to us. Like last time, they were decent donut holes, but still really failed to impress me. They were just ... donut holes.
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