We dropped the pup off for a hike in Topnage this morning which gave us two hours free, so we decided to have breakfast in Malibu. We drove along, and came upon Duke's, a place I used to frequent in WeHo a decade or two ago.
We walked in and my wife immediately recognized it as the old Sea Lion, a joint she waitressed in during college. It had undergone a makeover, and looked pretty nice.
They seated us at a table facing the water, but the menu pointed out what was available at the "buffet" and we realized we had walked into the dreaded Sunday brunch. Having been to a few bad ones (most notably The Warehouse in the Marina 6 years ago, the last time I frequented such an event), I was more than a little skeptical. But hunger got the best of us, and we decided to continue, even it was $21 per person, more than we were planning to spend this morning.
And we were, for the most part, pleasantly surprised. The applewood bacon was tasty, as was the breakfast sausages. The eggs benedict were perfect, the eggs not overcooked from sitting in the chafing dish for a while. The glazed salmon was outstanding, crisp on the outside, moist and flavorful on the inside.
They even had kalua pork, which was a little bit salty, but otherwise quite nice. The scrambled eggs were one big lump so I steered clear of them, but I have to admit the smoked salmon was velvety and luscious, as good as I've had in a while. The fruit was fresh, and the desserts of cookies, brownies, and cut up pastries were not bad.
The only thing missing was the corned beef hash, something my tummy had assumed would be there, given that it has been a staple of Duke's for decades. Maybe it didn't fit with the brunch motif, but it was indeed conspicuously absent.
But overall the brunch was quite good, about as good as you can expect for $21, the service at the buffet was attentive and everything was at least warm, very fresh, and there was more than enough variety. It wasn't the Ritz-Carlton and the there was no free champagne (fine by me, getting looped at ten in the morning is something that stays in my past), but for what it was, it was a good meal and certainly worth the $21. No one rushed us, and we had nice, long brunch, even got to read the Sunday paper uninterrupted, which is a treat I don't get often.
No sun, but we saw dolphins and seals splashing around and a pelican wandered over to our window to check out what were eating. Overall, Duke's was a very pleasant way to spend a Sunday morning... but i did miss that corned beef hash!