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Restaurants & Bars

The Embers – Wood-fired Steak & Eggs, Persian rolls

Krys | Feb 18, 200511:45 PM

The Embers had a roaring wood-fired oven long before it was trendy. I watched huge slabs of ribs being pulled from the oven. All breakfast meats like steak and pork chops are cooked in that oven.

The breakfast sausage is house made. Breakfast comes with hash browns and toast or two huge buttermilk pancakes. I recommend the pancakes.

I had the fresh mushroom omelet with cheese and pancakes. Buttery chopped fresh mushrooms were wrapped around an almost crepe thin omelet. For this type of food, the American cheese, clinging to the buttery folds of the omelet, was perfect. Those bells in my head that go off when I’m eating something very good, started to ring. The coffee is the fifties coffee shop type, similar to Dunkin Donuts.

The waitress was very helpful pointing out what was good on the menu. She also recommended the chicken fried steak. She said the house made meat loaf was “better than mine. I’m trying to learn the recipe”. She said there were “good solid salads. We use iceberg, not that frou frou type of lettuce.”

It seems the star of the restaurant is those BBQ ribs. I have to imagine the hamburgers are really good here.

It’s an old fashioned place in the best sense of the word. It is the kind of a place that still has cottage cheese and peaches on the menu. The hot opened faced sandwiches include Turkey, Pork, BBQ Beef and Ham. Steaks include New York, Rib Eye and the Chef’s special Steak as well as grinder Sirloin Steak which I suppose is hamburger.

I saw Persian rolls on the menu and asked about them. What are they? Why Persian? Is the owner Persian?

It seems that these big fluffy rolls are common in restaurants of this type, which is similar to Emile Villa. The owner is not Persian. The sauce, it seems, is very much like Emile Villa’s sauce. However, while, IMO, the fire died long ago at Emille Villa, The Embers is still burning brightly.

The soups, pies and corned beef are not house made. However, I was told that they are good restaurant quality and some people came in just for the soups.

I don’t think anything has changed at this restaurant since it opened 22 years ago. It has a fresh look almost as though it opened yesterday. However, I would have guessed that this restaurant opened in the 50’s rather than the mid eighties. It has the look of a classic family restaurant of that era, down to the shelves displaying pies.

It is also the type of the place where the waitresses and customers know each other. Before I left, my waitress told me her name was Mary Ann and asked for my name. It was sincere. Not the “Hi, my name is Krysy and I’ll be your server tonight”. And wouldn’t a server in that type of restaurant just spell Crissy that way? The Embers is a Mary Ann and not a Ginger type of place.

I drove by this place many times because it had the look of a chain, but is the only restaurant and family owned. The staff is almost like family. Mary Ann has been working there for 12 years. Usually I’m the one who asks all the questions, but when I told Mary Ann this was my first time at The Embers; she took me through the menu and pointed out all the best things the restaurant had to offer without my having to ask.

I was by myself and Mary Ann said that a lot of women who were alone felt comfortable eating here. I smiled inwardly and considered recommending The Embers the next time someone on Chowhound asks where a single woman should eat.

It seemed the restaurant was always packed. When I walked in the door, I thought I had made a major mistake and my good food streak had ended. It was half filled with seniors. I figured it was one of those dinosaur restaurants that survived because the same people had been eating here forever. I was confused though because the prices seemed a little high to attract the senior set. Not super expensive, my mushroom omelet was $7.95, but a little more pricy than was common in the area.

It just goes to show that looks CAN be deceiving. The color theme is red with shiny fake red brick walls and cranberry carpet. There are comfortable booths and tables and large sunny windows.

Mary Ann passed by with a plate of steak and eggs and pork chops and eggs giving me a peak of what they looked like. Next time I’m ordering those thick wood-oven pork chops with eggs.

The Embers
600 San Pablo Avenue
Pinole, Ca
(510) 724-4949

6 am – 9 pm Sunday thru Thursday
6 am – 9:30 pm Friday and Saturday

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