Get SF Weekly Newsletters

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Cafe Flore: Come for Sunshine, Not Predictable Brunch

Posted By on Thu, Sep 22, 2011 at 1:15 PM

click to enlarge Flore Benedict: poached eggs, oven-roasted tomatoes, mushroom ragout, homemade cornbread, hollandaise and garlic fried potatoes
  • Flore Benedict: poached eggs, oven-roasted tomatoes, mushroom ragout, homemade cornbread, hollandaise and garlic fried potatoes

It's that time of year in San Francisco: Just when we're ready to give up on summer completely and dive into Starbucks' pumpkin spiced lattes, the temperatures finally rise. The sun comes out, the jackets fall off, the parks fill up. And it's these weekends that draw everyone to places like Cafe Flore for brunch, served 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. 


The Castro institution is hard to miss, thanks to the expansive, umbrella-filled outdoor seating area and crowds flocking to tiny tables. Those lucky enough to land them stake out their spots, sipping iced coffees and flipping through books to pass the time. No matter the 15-person line collecting by the entrance; here's it's first come, first serve. 

click to enlarge Flore Benedict: poached eggs, oven-roasted tomatoes, mushroom ragout, homemade cornbread, hollandaise and garlic fried potatoes
  • Flore Benedict: poached eggs, oven-roasted tomatoes, mushroom ragout, homemade cornbread, hollandaise and garlic fried potatoes
Service is a non-issue at Cafe Flore. You order food at the register, pay, head over to the bar for your coffee (or bloody mary), pay again, and then start silently fighting the crowds for a seat. Waiting in line at the register gives you a chance to peruse the menu, a no-nonsense list that hits all the daytime musts. 

click to enlarge Flore Benedict: poached eggs, oven-roasted tomatoes, mushroom ragout, homemade cornbread, hollandaise and garlic fried potatoes
  • Flore Benedict: poached eggs, oven-roasted tomatoes, mushroom ragout, homemade cornbread, hollandaise and garlic fried potatoes
There are few surprises among the brunch dishes -- Eggs Benedict ($11.75) and a few variations start it off, covered with a thick layer of hollandaise and accompanied by garlic fried potatoes (crispy and flavorful, but undeniably heavy). The Zoe's Chicken and Apple Sausage Scramble ($10) features goat cheese and delicious caramelized onions, though the mealy texture of roasted tomatoes in the mix disappoints. Portion sizes will satisfy even the biggest appetities; the scramble comes not only with those roasted potatoes, but generous slices of sourdough toast and a package of jam as well. 

click to enlarge Zoe's Chicken Apple Sausage Scramble: oven roasted tomatoes, goat cheese, caramelized  onions, garlic fried potatoes, SF sourdough toast
  • Zoe's Chicken Apple Sausage Scramble: oven roasted tomatoes, goat cheese, caramelized onions, garlic fried potatoes, SF sourdough toast
The restaurant also offers standard French toast, frittata, and yogurt/granola options, but the brunch ends there. Salads, soups, sandwiches and burgers complete the menu, with more sizable quantities and fresh -- if somewhat unremarkable -- ingredients. 

click to enlarge Avocado Salad: hearts of romaine, half avocado, feta, pico de gallo, sherry vinaigrette (grilled chicken breast added)
  • Avocado Salad: hearts of romaine, half avocado, feta, pico de gallo, sherry vinaigrette (grilled chicken breast added)
The Avocado Salad ($8.95) is light and refreshing on a hot day, topped with feta cheese and pico de gallo. The Macaroni & Cheese ($6.50) is the definition of comfort food, featuring cheesy sauce and a cornbread crumble topping. A BLT ($9.50) meets expectations on toasted sourdough, paired with a huge pile of steak fries. 

click to enlarge Bacon Lettuce Tomato (BLT) with Steak Fries: applewood smoked bacon, lettuce, tomatoes and aioli on toasted SF sourdough
  • Bacon Lettuce Tomato (BLT) with Steak Fries: applewood smoked bacon, lettuce, tomatoes and aioli on toasted SF sourdough
Naturally, the wait time for food depends on the number of people around, but it's usually reasonable. Weekend diners can expect to be surrounded by hungry hopefuls, standing anxiously nearby and perhaps even giving a stink-eye to the guy who's been reading in the corner for over an hour. He's likely enjoying the ample view of passers-by strolling down Market Street, which never gets old.

If competitive table snagging isn't your thing or you're looking for original brunch dishes, wait in line somewhere else. But if you're in it for the sunny patio and people watching, go claim a table early at Cafe Flore.

Olivia Ware works for Williams-Sonoma, where she contributes to the company blog, The Blender. She also writes a personal food blog at LivBites.com.

  • Pin It

About The Author

Olivia Ware

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed

Like us on Facebook

Slideshows

  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"