A lazy, aimless Sunday morning is the perfect time to find yourself at Chow, the cozy restaurant situated at Church and Market yet seemingly tucked away in its own quiet world. Known for its easy, unpretentious favorites any time of day, during weekend brunch hours (8 a.m. to 2 p.m.) Chow is arguably at its best, ready to satisfy customers with a hot mug of coffee or a slice of the daily pie.
At Chow you'll find comfort food at its most basic, a sharp contrast from the nouveau fried chicken and pork belly dishes praised at other Bay Area establishments. Irish oatmeal, pancakes and a few simple egg dishes populate the brunch menu, which boasts only fresh, organic ingredients.
When you're looking for a place to sip a hot chocolate and enjoy an old-fashioned breakfast of two eggs and sausage, Chow is it. They're not reinventing the wheel, and that's exactly what their customers appreciate.
Don't skip the organic juices ($4.50) -- all squeezed to order -- from apple and orange to morning smoothie mixes. And be sure to ask about the specials. (You can order from the lunch, dinner, or brunch menu.)
The Organic Pork Carnitas Scramble ($12.50) is as rich and hearty as the name suggests, served with salsa, avocado, and tortillas. The texture is perfectly tender, and the flavors are simple -- if you're looking for some heat, you'll need to reach for the Cholula. In general, portions are fair but not extravagant, so big eaters may want to order a side or two.
The Eggs Benedict ($12.95) delivers no surprises either, topped with thick, buttery hollandaise. The egg yolks are almost done, just barely soft enough to run, so ask for a softer preparation if that's your preference. A side of deep-fried home fries stands out in this dish, pleasantly crispy and somehow not too greasy, heavily spiced without being spicy.
Staffers recommend the Huevos Rancheros ($10.50) and it's easy to see why. A stack of three tortillas covers a scoop of black beans, with cilantro, avocado, chile and two fried eggs on top. Again, there's no spicy kick, but the meal is warm and saucy and savory, void of any unnecessary decadence.
On the lunch and dinner menu, the Grass-Fed Burger ($11.50) is also a favorite. The dish comes with a baguette option instead of a bun for a soft and flavorful twist, and the meat itself is nicely seasoned and juicy. Some of the sandwich toppings look a little sad (particularly one grainy, out-of-season tomato slice) but everything else tastes good -- including the fries.
Almost everything at Chow is predictable, from the middle-of-the-road flavors to the menu itself, but it's all well executed and tasty. It's like your town's local diner, open for every meal and stocked with standard favorites -- homey, traditional fare that never goes out of style.Olivia Ware works for Williams-Sonoma, where she contributes to company blog The Blender.