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SPQR for brunch - redeeming itself (a bit)

Carrie 218 | Mar 16, 200807:06 PM

I have recently ragged a bit on SPQR for some mis-steps on the menu (namely, over-salted brussels sprouts). This morning, four of us were on our way to Elite Café for Sunday brunch and realizing we were probably facing a 30 to 45-wait there, saw empty tables at SPQR and decided to try their brunch.

Much of the left-hand side of the menu (the appetizers) are available while the right-hand side has changes for Sunday brunch. I ordered a plate of sweetbreads only because no one else in my party had ever been there and I have always thought this was one of the best dishes on the menu. This morning's offering was not quite as voluminous as it had once been and not quite as crispy as I remembered. But, also from the left-hand side of the menu, was a plate of fried potatoes which were proclaimed to be both crispy *and* light and fluffy, although a bit on the salty side. They were topped with cheese and well-enjoyed.

The first of our entrées to arrive was a platter of cellini beans with pork sofrito topped with two fried eggs. We were all intrigued with the eggs as they had been partially soft-boiled, removed from their shells, and tossed with bread crumbs and then deep-fried so when they were served, completely maintained their egg shape but still had a liquid yolk which, when blended with the sofrito and beans and a condiment of a bit of chili pepper, was quite succulent.

Our second entrée was a polenta and ricotta griddle cake. This was plate-sized and stuffed with ricotta cheese in the middle, topped with some fresh pears, almonds, and served with maple syrup. For one of our two sweet bites, this dish was very interesting and well-thought out. The combination of ricotta cheese with hearty specks of corn combined well with the fresh fruit, although I would have liked a bit more fruit.

The third dish was a rather hilarious take on the Southern chicken-and-waffles craze. SPQR's chicken and waffles was not the gut-wrenching version served in LA's Roscoe's eateries, but a more manageable two Belgian-sized slices of waffles studded with bits of prosciutto and a smaller quarter of a chicken, crispy deep-fried and very, very moist and tender.

The last dish was the one I ordered; chicken livers with potatoes, and two fried eggs topped with salsa verde. I adored the chicken livers and the deep fried potatoes were redolent with bits of bacon. These eggs -- unlike the ones atop the beans and pork -- were pan-fried (fine with me!) and the addition of the obviously fresh salsa verde was bright and inviting.

Overall this was a very interesting Sunday brunch for my friends who are far more accustom to traditional, American fare. However, everyone at the table agreed that most of the food was way too salty. We all drank a lot of water and eating some of the left-overs now for dinner, can confirm that with the exception of the pancake and waffle, everything was simply far saltier than it needs to be. In this case, I was not the only one to think that but had others (who dine out far less than I do), all comment on the saltiness of every savory dish.

Good food, great service, and just too much salt...

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