The promise of beer-filled boots attracts crowds to Hayes Valley's Suppenkuche on Saturday nights, but come back the following morning and you may be surprised. Not only does the restaurant offer a full, ever-changing German brunch menu, bartenders are doling out boots once again, this time to a family-friendly clientele.
Unlike most other SF establishments, Suppenkuche only offers brunch on Sunday mornings (10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.). And perhaps that's why the experience is so pleasant -- not many people seem to know about it. Showing up at noon only subjects small parties to a wait of 10 or 15 minutes, just long enough to grab a generous cup of coffee and a brew at the bar. If roasted, malty beers are your speed, try the Köstritzer Schwarzbier ($7.50), with a smooth finish that goes down easily even after a big night.
The floor is filled with picnic tables, placing strangers side by side on a single bench. The atmosphere is as loud and boisterous as it is at night, but at this hour it's kids' voices booming between walls as they dig into piles of pancakes and act cute with their parents. Meanwhile, the parents sip beer next to chatty, hungover hipsters and quiet couples. If it sounds annoying, it isn't in reality -- this is genuinely casual dining.
The food is executed in a similar vein, featuring huge portions of hearty, unpretentious, inexpensive German grub. Frequent brunch-goers yawning at the prospect of another Eggs Benedict will appreciate the unique fare. Suppenkuche deserves props for offering special items (detailed on a separate page inserted into the menu) in addition to the regular brunch dishes -- all for just one morning a week.
The menu kicks off with a seasonal soup, Roasted Butternut Squash ($6), deliciously thick and surprisingly sweet, with flavors of applesauce and cinnamon. Think dessert for breakfast; it's just right on a chilly, foggy day. Waiters bring out a basket of dense wheat rolls for each table, perfect for dipping in the soup bowl. Other starters (called "Kalt" on the menu) include warm pretzels, muesli with yogurt and cured gravlax, all paired with appealing-sounding condiments from mustard to marmalade.
For entrees, the staff recommends the hard-to-ignore 20 Centimeter Frankfurter Sausage ($10.50), paired with two eggs any style and a pile of roasted potatoes. Forget breakfast sausage -- these are long, skinny hot dogs, well-seasoned and served with spicy mustard for dipping. The eggs are simple and unfussy, and so are the potatoes; no exotic spices here. Instead of the usual hash browns with crispy exterior, these potatoes are soft on the outside and downright creamy throughout.
If you decide to skip the sausage, you won't be disappointed by the Special Omelette with Smoked Salmon, Spinach, Onions and Cheese ($11.50). First of all, the omelette is huge, spanning the entire width of an oval platter, and they're generous with the salmon, which lends a smoky saltiness to the eggs. The texture is fluffy, with stringy Gruyere and wilted -- not soggy -- spinach in the mix. A marinated cucumber salad comes on the side, flavored with dill and red onions, thinly sliced with just a hint of crunch. The flavor combinations aren't earth-shattering, but it's all well balanced and satisfying. Be prepared to split entrees or take home the second half in a doggie bag.
Suppenkuche always offers a fun change of pace from regular weekend outings, and Sunday brunch here is no exception. True, it's not spa food. But what's happier than a warm spot to relax, down a beer and fill up on sausage and pretzels next to a new friend?
Olivia Ware works for Williams-Sonoma, where she contributes to the company blog The Blender