Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sunday Brunch: Sears Fine Foods

Welcome to Sunday Brunch here at the Cinema! Sunday brunch is kind of an institution here in the San Francisco Bay Area (at least in the crowd I run with), and there are a lot of places that do it really well. I thought I'd take you through some of them, thus allowing me an excuse to go to brunch this morning to get pictures. See how this works?

Let's start with the granddaddy of all of them:

Yes, it's called Sears. I love saying "I had brunch at Sears", which conjures up images of me hanging out on a washing machine, eating eggs benedict. However, the two Sears are not associated, and there are no washing machines in sight. Sadly.

What Sears Fine Food is is one of the most famous places for breakfast in all of San Francisco. It's located right on Union Square, and is a major tourist draw. It's got a very old-fashioned SF vibe inside, filled with dark wood, white and black tile flooring, brass fixtures and neatly dressed waitstaff.

Miss Cassy, perusing the menu at Sears.

A couple of my girlfriends and I "discovered" this place a few months ago, because it's very close to the movie theater we like to go to downtown. I say discovered because it falls into that old adage where you never really experience the city you live in the way tourists do. (I, for instance, have never been to Alcatraz.) Lots of natives don't come here for that reason, and they're missing out, I say.

There's always a line outside Sears, especially on weekend mornings. This is actually one reason a lot of people don't experience it; they look at that line, which can stretch down the sidewalk, and freak out that they'll starve to death before they make it in the door. And they leave.

Here's an insider's secret: do not be intimidated by the line. I have never once been in it where I waited more than 10 minutes before I got seated. The truth is that a.) Sears is a cavernous place, and they move people in and out pretty briskly and b.) there's no place inside to wait. So, people wait on the sidewalk, but that's really not an indication of how long it will take to get seated. What would look like an hour wait in the rain at another restaurant is just a few minutes there.

So be brave and stay in line. Your reward will be...

The most awesome French toast you've ever had. This is what Cassy gets almost every time. One thing I love about Sears Fine Food is that they bring out their maple syrup warm.

Asking for extra powdered sugar gets you a whole ceramic bowl filled with the stuff. Cassy sprinkles it all over her French toast.

This is their most famous breakfast item: the Swedish pancakes. They're dollar-sized pancakes with a bit of buckwheat in the batter. They serve them with a little lingonberry sauce on the side, and I must say they are darn tasty.

This bad boy, however, is what I love the most. It's their "Crisp Pecan Waffle" and it makes me want to cry, it's so good. (You pronounce it PEA-can, by the way, not puh-CAHN. Don't let my mom tell you different.)

Actually, pretty much everything we've tried at Sears is delicious - even their hash browns are crispy on the outside and creamy and smooth inside.

We haven't done lunch or dinner there, but my friend Terry had a club sandwich on our last trip together, and she said it was just as good as their breakfast food.

Happy Terry, full of sandwich.

The waitstaff is always attentive, and when you're done, they give you a little token. You can keep it as a souvenir, or drop it in a slot machine at the front for a chance to win a free meal. We never win, but we keep trying, because at the very least, we still get to eat yummy waffles and french toast.

If you're in San Francisco, brave the line and try Sears Fine Food for brunch. Then you can be like me!

Next Sunday: Nona's Kitchen, in my hometown.


  1. Sears is a total family tradition! My mom grew up going there for breakfast since her favorite aunt and uncle lived just a few blocks away. She continued this family tradition to this day.

    I have a ton of great family memories thanks to breakfasts at Sears!