Yesterday morning I made the journey up to Napa and had breakfast at the Soscol Cafe. As I was pulling up about 6 folks arrived and got in before me, so I had to wait for a seat. This was OK because it gave me an opportunity to check the "scene" out...it was really abuzz with activity and conversation. 10 or 12 counter seats and 7 or 8 booths around the perimeter- all full of folks with large platters of food. The Huevos Rancheros looked very good...a fried flour tortilla base, lots of black beans, two eggs, salsa, sour cream, and maybe green onions and /or guacamole. One guy, Javier? was doing the lion's share of the cooking and was very fun to watch...very efficient, very calm. My meal got off to a rough start when the orange juice I sipped was on the edge of fermenting- just beginning to turn but not dramatically so. I sipped a bit more just to make sure and finally decided to ask for some water and told the waitress that the OJ was off. She quickly offered a fresh glass - with a smile. The guy next to me also mentioned that his OJ was off and got a new glass....It's interesting how hard it is for most diners to ask for something even when it is justified. If I hadn't brought it up the gentleman next to me probably wouldn't have said a word. Moving on... I ordered the corned beef hash-which was a surprise. I have to admit I bring some expectations along when I order this dish.
This version started out on the grill with a handful of julienned lean corned beef-fried cooked until semi crisp and then onions and potatoes are added and all of it cooked until the corned beef is pretty crispy. When it is turned out onto the plate it doesn't hold together - it's more like a scramble of ingredients. The corned beef julienne was lean and a bit on the dry side, although crispy. My ideal corned beef hash is a tender mix of rich(some fat) corned beef and small potato dice with a nice crust. Some onion in there is OK. Definitely not a traditional interpretation. I'd go for the Huevos or an omelette next time. The home fries were a bit mushy for my taste, also. He was doing such a volume of business that they didn't have time or room on the flat top to crisp up. Although, I didn't have the experience I was hoping for - I'm glad that places still exist. Most of the customers were local and knew the waitresses and/or cooks - there was a great energy here.
It makes me miss Ann's Cafe in Oakland all the more!
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