When it comes to brunch, Los Angeles is bursting at the seams with options. It feels like there are new restaurants opening every week, each offering food more delicious than the ones that came before. Honestly, it's difficult to keep up. So why would you ever venture outside of county lines to have your Sunday mid-morning feast? Because, friends, the O.C. knows how to brunch, too. A quick Yelp search will reveal that cities like Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach, and Irvine are absolutely packed with delicious brunch options, some of which even give L.A. a run for its money with their creative, scrumptious fare. My husband and I find ourselves in Orange County quite a bit visiting family, and have managed to sample some really delicious and satisfying brunches. One recent such trip took us to the lovely Haute Cakes Caffe in Huntington Beach.
Tucked away inside a rather nondescript shopping center you'll find a sweet little garden dining area, as well as an inevitable line spilling out the café doors. Each weekend, OC residents flock to Haute Cakes, lining up for baked goods, egg sandwiches and scrambles, and inarguably delicious pancakes. Luckily, the line moves fast, and there's plenty of seating available both inside and out. This operation is a well-oiled one - which comes as no surprise when you realize that this restaurant is coming into their 27th year of business.
Both the interior and the patio are absolutely charming, it's clear that the owners strive to keep the place looking fresh and modern and that everything here is done with a lot of love (maybe it's the adorable hearts hiding everywhere that tipped me off?). Outside, locals linger over their treats with their families and pets - dogs are more than welcome on the lovely garden patio. Inside, the pastry case is packed with beautiful sweets from homemade pop tarts to shiny croissants and tempting cupcakes. There's a rumor going around that the cinnamon rolls are unmissable, but as they typically sell out of these within an hour or two of opening, I can neither confirm nor deny. The coffee is taken quite seriously, too; they're brewing up delicious Stumptown coffee in both drip and espresso form.
Our table sampled plates both sweet and savory, since every good bruncher knows that variety is the spice of life. First, an almond croissant that was flaky, buttery, and light - just exactly what a croissant should be.
Then, the "Hello & Good Morning" Sandwich: two fried eggs sandwiched between a buttery brioche bun, with crispy bacon, avocado, tomato, greens, sharp cheddar, and onion-jalapeño jam, served with a side of oven roasted potatoes. This was a hearty, satisfying meal with a wonderful kick from the jam.
Next, the All American Scramble, a perfect choice for those looking for a more classic breakfast. With crispy smoked bacon, avocado and tomato, toast, jam and oven-roasted potatoes, this was another really filling breakfast choice. Normally, this dish is also served with cheddar, but ours was without - my poor husband who ordered it sadly is allergic to dairy products (awful, I know).
Of course, I am a sucker for some avocado toast, so when it pops up on a menu I'm rarely able to resist. Haute Cake's version comes with smashed avocado, heirloom tomatoes, rosemary sea salt and soft herbs on sourdough toast. I opted to have my eggs sunny side up, because I do love a runny yolk. On the side, some seasonal fruit, which to my delight was a heaping pile of fresh, tart berries. Now that is the way to do a side of fruit (none of this honeydew melon nonsense, thankyouverymuch).
And because I couldn't in good conscience come to Haute Cakes Caffe and walk away without having tried some 'cakes, we ordered a side of the Orange Ricotta Haute Cakes. The menu warns that these take a bit longer than usual to cook, but ours were out only moments after the rest of our food arrived. Topped with juicy berries and served with a side of maple syrup, these pancakes actually melt in your mouth. Creamy, soft, and perfectly cooked, these were definitely a winner.
To you Angelenos: next time you have the occasion to venture south of our lovely city, consider doing so on a weekend morning so you can indulge in some Orange County brunch as well! There are many delicious treats to be found, including some really wonderful pancakes.
1807 Westcliff Drive
Newport Beach, CA 92660