Sunday, January 10, 2010

Mini Dish: The Sunny Side Café

Casual Breakfast Served All Day
2136 Oxford St. (at Center), Berkeley
PH: 510.845.9900
Open Mon.–Fri., 7:30 a.m.–3 p.m.; Sat.–Sun., 8:30 a.m.–3 p.m.
No reservations, major credit cards accepted

Sunny Side Café is the perfect name for a breakfast spot, so it’s no wonder that this eco-friendly restaurant has been packing it in at its Solano Avenue spot in Albany. A few months ago, a second location opened up right near the University of California-Berkeley campus so I checked it out with my friend Mary, who studies at UC.

We arrived for brunch on a weekend, but it seemed silly calling it brunch since Sunny Side Café serves its breakfast menu all day. They serve eggs that come from cage-free chicken, and the menu notes some dishes as a “low-carbon emission choice,” which I’m guessing means the ingredients were purchased locally and not shipped in from some faraway place.

The Berkeley location seems a bit tight for this casual spot where you order first and carry your number to one of the tables downstairs or upstairs. The cash register where you order is right at the entrance, so even when there were only two people in front of us, we were already pushing ourselves out the door.

But the setting was bright and cozy, with lots of colorful wall art and warm wood furnishings. Mary and I sat in the upstairs loft waiting for our orders.

Mary got the classic Three-Egg Omelet with Ham and Mushroom. It was served with home fries and slices of toast. I didn’t try any of Mary’s omelet because I had way more of my own food.

I wanted to try something different, so I was intrigued by the “Pig-in-a-Blanket” specialty dish made up sausage and pancakes (the pancakes are wrapped around the sausage, or “pig”). I went the slightly healthier route and got the dish with chicken apple sausage, called “Chicken-in-a-Blanket” (doesn’t have the same ring to it but you get the idea).

I couldn’t see the sausage in my dish, which just looked like rolled up pancakes when it arrived. So here’s another view after I sliced up my “Chicken-in-the-Blanket” to reveal the chicken sausage inside.

After drizzling maple syrup on top, I had this odd mixture of sweet and savory. And while generally my mouth is tantalized by these two opposing taste profiles, in this situation I felt confused about what I was eating. I waffled between the savory and the sweet. The pieces didn’t seem to want to gel together. It was screaming out “I want to be a pancake” or “I want to be sausage and eggs!”

In the end I just ate it all, along with the scrambled eggs on the side.

Sunny Side Café also serves sandwiches and salads for lunch, but it’s probably known more as the breakfast joint. While the menu seems to offer some interesting options (like a few different scrambles), the food is pretty straight-forward in the end.

This is just a mini review since I don’t feel I ate enough to get the feel of the place, so I’m not giving out my normal ratings. Still, the Sunny Side Café looks like a reliable place for an inexpensive, quick breakfast but it’s not a place for a special weekend brunch experience. I’d probably go back if I were in the neighborhood and wanted breakfast, but I’m not going to gather a big group of friends and hangout.

Sunny Side Cafe on Urbanspoon

Other brunch reviews:
Bette’s Oceanview Diner: “Crazy for Counter Food in Berkeley”
Foreign Cinema: “Now Playing an Innovative Brunch Menu”
La Note: “A Touch of Provence in Berkeley”


abstractpoet said...

I've been wondering about this new location, as the original spot on Solano is one of our very favorite breakfast joints in the East Bay.

Next time you go, you have to get the "Alameda", which is a savory French Toast "sandwich," loaded with poached eggs, ham, potatoes, etc.--it's amazing. (But only get it if you're really hungry!) And, at least at the Solano location, they always have a special Alameda on weekends. Their steak Alameda was one of the best things I ate all year.

The various pancake specials are also quite good. I ordered the pigs in a blanket once, and it was probably my least favorite thing I've had at Sunny Side, so I definitely don't think that's representative of their food overall.

James said...

I'm taking a couple leaps in saying this, but the original location is just a few blocks away from Jodie's (my favorite place to eat in the world)! If you ever make it over there, check in with me for some recommendations (I think I've posted on Jodie's four times on my blog, too).