Today was the big brunch date my mother had arranged with her former roommate. You all may recall I posted a couple of weeks ago asking for recommendations for a La Jolla brunch spot that could accommodate older folks with some mobility limitations (wow, how's that for being PC).
After going round and round and calling numerous locations we ended up at NINE-TEN. It turned out to be an excellent choice. Nine-Ten has been positively reviewed here on Chowhound and in the local papers, but mostly for their dinner meal. I can now vouch for the fact it is more than adequate for breakfast/lunch.
It turned out that my mothers friend is 94 years old and hard of hearing. In spite of the fact that she does need to use a walker, she is in excellent health, mentally alert and pretty spry. We all should be so lucky at that age :-). Anyway we picked she and her niece up at the Hilton La Jolla and headed in to downtown La Jolla. Nine-Ten is located in the Grand Colonial hotel at (what else) 910 Prospect. It's very easy to find since the hotel is painted an inviting shade of creamy yellow. Valet parking is available.
The restaurant is just to the right of the hotel entrance and is accessible from either the street or the inside of the hotel. There is a small, and rather inviting bar done in very dark wood. Mixed marinated olives are strategically placed along the bar and mostly likely make a pretty good bar snack. There is a small, fenced in area on the sidewalk with 4 or 5 tables for 2. The sun was out, the tables are protected from the wind and every one of them was taken with folks enjoying a leisurely coffee or meal. Many were reading newspapers and the staff was in no hurry to turn the tables. Inside, the dining room is small with banquettes against one wall and tables for larger groups down the center of the room and against the opposite wall. The deep, dark, mahoganey red wood motif is continued from the bar throughout the dining room. Chairs are high backed, fairly comfortable and covered in a muted plaid that blends into the wood. There is nothing garish or jarring about the room. It's sleek, sophisticated and comfortable.
Breakfast is served from opening to 12:30 PM and lunch service starts at 11:30 AM, which means that after 11:30 AM you have your choice of ordering off the breakfast or lunch menus. The lunch menu included a lobster risotto ($16), fish of the day ($14) (which was cod today), a flat-iron steak ($14), chicken breast ($10), pear and apple salad ($7), an assorted cheese plate, a hamburger ($11) and a couple of vegetarian/vegan options. We looked at both menus and opted for breakfast.
Coffee is served in very large (2 cup?) cups and is excellent. It's rich, full bodied and mercifully devoid of excessive acid. My mother's friend chose the Nine-Ten Omelette stuffed with bacon, cheddar and avocado. My mother and the niece had the french toast made from walnut brioche w/sauteed bananas and I had eggs benedict. The omelette and the egg benedict came with potatoes, which turned out to be large chunks of lightly seasoned potatoes tossed with some wonderfully carmelized onions. Tasty, but didn't hold their temperature very well.
There isn't a tremendous amount your can say about an omelette. This one was done well, light, fluffy and must have been pretty good as my mom's friend ate all of it!! (For a 94 year old her appetite was pretty darned good). The french toast was a real winner. The plate came with 3 good sizes pieces of french toast. The exterior was crispy with a creamy, custardy, souffle-like interior. Scattered across the top were banana slices that had been sauteed off in some butter and brown sugar. Maple syrup was drizzled over and the plate finished with a generous dusting of powdered sugar. It was rich without being cloying, sweet without being over the top and wholly satisfying. Banana is not my favorite fruit flavor, but even I liked the 3 bites I managed to snag off my mother's plate. My eggs benedict were a very nice, very classic rendition. The eggs had been beautifully poached. I do not especially enjoy runny egg yolks, and these eggs had been poached long enough so that the yolk held it's shape and was firm enough not to run all over the plate when cut. The Canadian bacon was nicely smokey and the English muffin not overly tough. The hollandaise a bit bland but did complement the eggs well. A restrained hand was used in adding the sauce (thank goodness) so that the plate was not drowning in hollandaise.
Prices on both the breakfast and lunch menus were VERY reasonable. Our entire bill was $51 which included the 4 entrees, 3 cups of coffee, tax and (a generous) tip.
Service was friendly, a bit laid back, but they were very accommodating in helping my mother's friend to the table. Reservations were not needed for this meal, in fact, I was somewhat surprised at how empty most of downtown La Jolla was this morning. Nine-Ten does validate parking which makes valet parking $2 for 3 hours if eating at the restaurant.
We know that Nine-Ten has a pretty stellar reputation for dinner, if you're looking for a low-key, comfortable breakfast locations in La Jolla with good food, this is it.