Restaurants & Bars

Berkeley - T-Rex Brunch – Oh, baby I love beignets

rworange | Apr 30, 200601:16 AM     2

I’m just drawn to this place like a moth to the Q flame.

Today I wasn’t burnt up. I enjoyed the week-end brunch which T-Rex started serving today. I had:

- Beignets with New Orleans style coffee custard 9

- Hangtown fry: scrambled eggs, two slabs of house smoked pork belly and two fried oysters 13

First of all, if you are at T-Rex ask for the house-made hot sauce. This is the stuff of greatness … there is a floral quality to it (habenero?) … with a touch of vinegar, yet it is almost thick, red and rich as tomato sauce. It doesn't have a searing burn, but a nice heat.

The beignets were five warm ping-pong ball-sized donuts rolled in regular sugar. They were not at all greasy with a soft, light interior.

The standout was the coffee custard, served next to the donuts in a tiny espresso cup. It was perfectly flavored coffee custard with a thin layer of vanilla custard topped by whipped cream (crème fraiche?).

T-Rex should put the beignets with coffee custard on the regular dessert menu.

A bite of warm beignet, then a tiny spoonfull of the coffee custard ... nice, very nice.

The hangtown fry was deconstructed. Soft-scrambled eggs were topped with two oysters, lightly dusted with corn meal. Two long strips of stiff as cardboard bacon (pork belly) were on the side.

I was thinking I didn’t like my bacon that well done until I took a bite. Each bite released bacon-y juiciness that was smoky, salty, meaty and very rich.

It was interesting to me that so many restaurants started calling pork belly, bacon because the term pork belly was off-putting to some diners. T-Rex did an about face and called their bacon, pork-belly … although it really is richer than bacon. I was beginning to understand why so many restaurants serve tiny pieces of pork belly. I was full after one slice.

Reconstructing the fry … a piece of bacon topped with scrambled eggs and topped with a piece of oyster … was highly delicious.

They came with tiny cubed potatoes that had fresh mint and caramelized onions mixed together. They could have been a little less oily, but were very tasty. Who would have thought that mint would be a good addition to fried potatoes?

There were two slices of either grilled or roasted tomatoes. Oddly they were cold and didn’t add anything to the dish flavor-wise.

Buttered sourdough toast was served with the Hangtown fry. It was fine.

The Bloody Mary’s looked impressive stuffed with a celery stick, whole pickled (I’m guessing) asparagus spears and a green olive. That was what I could see.

The dessert menu looks more interesting. They have a trio of mini banana pies – chocolate, vanilla and butterscotch. There was a tangerine sorbet available today.

Service was very nice and helpful.

The only problem I have is the prices. They really are excessive for breakfast in this area. While the beignets were lovely, this should have been priced at six or seven dollars tops.

As nice as the Hangtown fry was, $13 was high. I know this is stupid and I’m only talking a two dollar difference in dishes, but $11 would not have made me blink. Thirteen dollars did.

The drinks are high-priced too although glancing at the other table, they seemed to be major production numbers with all that salad in it. Sometimes you just want a nice reasonable priced drink. Here we go again, but at $7 I probably would have bought a drink, even two.

T-Rex is now bringing every table heated rolled towels at the end of the meal. I understand this for BBQ. However, I use a fork for scrambled eggs and hardly need the towel. The table that ordered the hamburgers left the towels unused.

When I think of the laundry expense with all those towels, maybe eliminating them unless necessary might bring down the price of the food a bit.

If you are looking for an place for a weekend brunch where there are lots of tables, easy parking and no line, keep T-Rex in mind. The entire brunch menu is in the link below.

Given the quality of today's brunch, I'll start giving it a try again. However, given the prices, probably not as frequently as I would otherwise.

The hamburger was very popular and at $10 a deal. It is the one thing that I remember fondly at T-Rex and consider it one of the better burgers in the Bay Area. Looking at the other tables made me crave a burger.

Link: http://www.t-rex-bbq.com/

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