I'm looking for a good brunch spot to take visitors and meet friends, so stopped to check out the latest contender -- Dipsea on the Miracle Mile in San Rafael.
The visuals are very good in a California restaurant sort of way, and there's a lovely outdoor eating space as well as cheerful attractive indoor seating. Give it an A- for style.
The prices, as expected, are about 50% higher than at your neighborhood coffee shop. Most breakfasts are in the $9-10 range.
I checked out the egg options -- uh-oh! The dreaded "home fries". I have this major bias for hash browns. When they're done well, there's no better kind of potato for your eggs. I looked over to see what a neighbor was having and it confirmed my worst fears -- the potatoes were large ungainly chunks with the skin still on. Since it's impossible to get a good brown crust on potatoes shaped like a pile of rocks they didn't even try.
They didn't offer a pancakes-instead-of-potatoes alternative for their egg dishes, so I ordered a buttermilk waffle ($6.00). While I was waiting, I asked a waitress what was that interesting looking baked thingie she just served someone. "It's our buttermilk biscuit - would you like one?" So she very nicely produced one for me.
It looked like something styled by Martha in her casual chic mode. It resembled a scale model of a lumpy asteroid and was about the size of a softball. You know that wonderful aroma you get when breaking open a freshly-baked buttermilk biscuit? It didn't have that. And a gentle, flaky crust enclosing a fluffy interior? Nope. It had a hard shell, the inside was too heavy, and there was no flavor of buttermilk or anything else. It needed all the butter and jam I could put on it.
My waffle arrived, with lots of nice fresh fruit on it and a pitcher of sirup. On top of the fruit was an incongruous scoop of fluffy butter. I had to scrape the fruit off to spread the butter and pour on the sirup. Then I tried to cut into it.
Fortunately they provided very good cutlery, including a multi-purpose knife which you can use to cut your meat as well as spread your butter. This was a waffle that needed a steak knife! It tasted OK, but it was a lot of work to eat, and again, no hint of a buttermilk flavor.
The sliced strawberries, bananas and blueberries were wonderful, however.