I didn't know where to place this post, it fits in between the person looking for good brunch spots on the Westside (sorry, this is just a little too late for your guests from Scotland) and the post about the Thanksgiving dinner at Cafe del Rey...
My lunch companion and I debated where to go today, the storm was fast approaching and I didn't want to drive too far from home, having just done a 60+ mile scenic trip down PCH from the family's Thanksgiving. We decided to attempt another visit to the illusive Piccolo Cipriani at 5 Dudley in Venice. I reasoned that the beach traffic would be absent and the tourists would likewise be away from the area so we could park. Alas, we found the place closed up tight. I'm having doubts that we'll ever get to try their food, which I hear is wonderful.
Instead, we continued on to the Marina to a place where we knew we'd have no trouble parking or getting a nice table, to Cafe del Rey. They do a wonderful brunch on the weekends with a variety of choices for all types of appetites: egg dishes, french toast, salads, appetizers, pastas, all kinds of entrees. Their talented chef Frank Fronda (ex. Napa Valley Grille) has created excellent menus (we perused the lunch and dinner menus after ordering our brunch and plan to come back for an evening meal soon). The weekend brunch begins with a warm basket of scones, muffins and banana bread, served with house-made jam. The butter was served in an attractive dish but had just been pulled from the freezer and was rock hard (just a small glitch). Our server was pleasant and quick to take our order. Still stuffed from T-day, I chose their signature black bean soup with creme fraiche and pico de gallo ($6) which is poured from its individual pot into your bowl at the table and a delicious crabcake with pink grapefruit hollandaise ($13) (I'd substituted this from the lobster sauce that it usually comes with). My friend chose a very satisfying soft scrambled eggs with wild mushrooms elegantly molded in a ring and presented on a half English Muffin over a pool of hollandaise ($12). The brunch includes a complimentary glass of Mimosa, sparkling cider or another beverage I can't remember)... We enjoyed watching the yachts in the Marina and the storm over the ocean. The decor is very modern, including the tablesettings, but very comfortable. Service from the staff today was excellent and we saw the chef come out to survey the front of the house several times (nice to see him there).
There was a cozy fire blazing in the bar area (they have a piano player in the evenings and this is a nice place to come for an after-work drink) and everyone looked like they were enjoying their meal as much as we did. Since Cafe del Rey is only 15 mins max away from LAX, it's a great place to remember when out of town visitors come a calling over the holidays.
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