Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sunday Brunch: Nona's Kitchen

Sunday Brunch this week is at my favorite, favoritest restaurant in my hometown (and maybe anywhere):

Pacifica is not a fancy town, and Nona's isn't a fancy place. It's in a small stripmall right near the big surfer's beach in town. (Plenty of people walk over to Nona's for breakfast after surfing.) It's tiny, but clean and attractive, like a fifties-style diner without the kitsch.

And while Nona's is open for lunch and dinner most days, where things get really crazy is weekend brunch.
Nona's chef, Joreth, specializes in "home food", but home food that's best in class. So, the menu - which changes with the seasons - will feature simple things like egg in a hole or blueberry pancakes. But they'll be the best egg in a hole and blueberry pancakes you've ever had.

The brunch specials (and every meal's daily specials) are written on a board on the wall, but the servers all know them by heart. I always sit in the far corner of the bar, right by the board, so I can peruse it at my leisure. There's always something delicious for brunch, and he even does biscuits and gravy well. And as a Southern girl, I'm picky about my biscuits and gravy.

One thing I love about the way Joreth cooks is that he focuses on what's local and in season. He's not slavish to it, but his specials are always going to reflect what's going on in the world around you. I love coming in and being offered a carrot soup from carrots that he found that were just picked today. And a while back, I happened to come in when he was taking the first peach pie of the season out of the oven. I hunched over that pie, growling like a dog whenever anyone got to close. I still have dreams about that pie.

But most people come to Nona's for the biscuits.

They're actually not the biscuits I grew up on, but they're pretty darn good - very buttery and flaky. He serves them for brunch with honey butter and two types of jam.

I've never really gotten anything on the menu that wasn't good. I love their hamburgers and flank steak for dinner, and one winter meal was memorable for the chicken pot pie whose puff pastry crust was decorated with a puff pastry rooster.

But for brunch, one of my favorite meals is the Monte Cristo. It's not greasy, and he covers it in powdered sugar before serving. The home fries, though, man... Best potatoes I've ever had. I really have no idea how he gets them that perfect.

The tiny kitchen is open to the dining room, and I like to sit at the bar on Sunday mornings and watch the bustle. Joreth is totally passionate about his restaurant, which can be highly entertaining to watch. Plus, he's cute. (But married, alas.) He's also a nice guy who is a part of the community; I ran into him at the Safeway once, and he voluntarily started helping me pick out turkey gizzards for my gravy.

Nona's is a great place to go for brunch, if you're looking for nice, hearty food served by people who really care.

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