BIG brunch punch : Sabrina's Cafe

JAR 1.11.13
We were supposed to have a third, but it was once again a party of two. My sister was going to join us for brunch. It was all planned, and then it was not. She even picked the place we would indulge in. When she could not go, she told us to still go, saying something about hearing it is the best.

So we went.

Sabrina’s Café (one of their locations) is a sweet little place in uptown Philadelphia, near to the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel campuses. The restaurant shares the ground floor of what was a University building. It once was a large Victorian home, many twists and turns and rooms. Some of this could have been modernization and re-purposing, but it felt old and lived in.

The menu had some of the classic brunch essentials, like french toast, scrambled eggs and omelets. But it was the daily specials sheet that had some of the more interesting offerings, from the savory end to the sweets. Because of the number of items on the regular menu, and that brunch special menu, it was extremely difficult to decide. We, like always, called on our server for help.

RER 1.11.13
I ordered a breakfast wrap, filled with fried white fish, scrambled eggs with black beans, topped by a pineapple salsa and a mound of sour cream. The spinach wrap was almost obsolete. It was impossible to pick up like a sandwich or a wrap, so the tortilla was aesthetic, binding for something that could not be contained. I was not thrilled with the seasoning within the brunch wrap. Some spice (Cumin maybe) did not blend well with the rest of the flavors. The white fish was breaded and fried. I believe it was one of the spices that was in the breading that put the whole dish off kilter for me. The fish on the inside was perfectly cooked, flaky and moist, but its crunchy exterior felt one sided. Black beans were burrowed within the fluffy scrambled eggs, formed like an omelet and folded complexly to fill the spinach wrap. The eggs, though, were a little over cooked to me, brown and almost dry. They were fluffy but flavorless and lifeless.

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The plate was definitely overwhelming.  It was a lot a lot of food. On top of the giant breakfast wrap, there was a healthy mound of hash browns on the plate. These were delicious. The potatoes were just crisp enough on the outside, and just soft enough on the inside. Each cube still had some of the skin on it, and large enough to be almost two bites. There were translucent strands of sautéed onion weaving throughout the potatoes. It was nice and salty, seasoned, and hearty. I wanted so badly to focus my belly on the wrap, the eggs and the fish, but my fork kept returning to the hash browns.

JAR 1.11.13
My dining companion also opted for one of the special breakfasts, called Leo’s King Size Brunch (most of the dish names had some association to astrology and the horoscopes). This was a complete mix of the midday meal and breakfast. This lion sized meal included two poached eggs, a fried pork cutlet, and a resounding mound of root hash. This was all drizzled with a mustard mushroom gravy. It is even a mouthful to say. When I first looked at the description of this meal, I was not sure how all these disparate elements could combine and be cohesive. I had never really thought of eggs going well with pork, and pork going well with rutabaga, or mushrooms going well with mustard, but somehow, in the end it worked.

JAR 1.11.13
Each of the different parts was just as delicious on its own as with the other components. The poached eggs, though beautiful in concept, were a bit over cooked, thus limiting the delightful over spill of runny yolk. We were imagining the deliciousness that would have ensued had the poached eggs been just right. Runny yolk mixing with the colorful hash, coating the different roots and marrying the gravy… but it was all a dream.

JAR 1.11.13
The cutlet was much more tender than it looked, as the outside was crunchy and brown. The meat almost melted in the mouth and was flavorful, instead of grey and bland. Somehow the mushroom mustard gravy vanished on the meat and amongst the cubed root vegetables, though a mushroom would appear here and there, but no precise taste of the sauce was present to me. The rainbow of roots was just as delicious as the regular hash browns served at Sabrina’s café. Though some of the roots I was not enjoying, the combination and mixture was innovative, colorful, and hearty. These roots were just the right base for a king sized meal.

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Because of our need to try it all, we ordered yet another menu item, this, though to share. After discussing our concern and qualm with our server when we were initially ordering, she eased our worries, and gave us a half order of the stuffed french toast. We were unsure about it since we were ordering other things, but she told us that the stuffed french toast is the reason why people come there. And she was right, it was pretty delicious. But, I am not sure if 1. I could eat a whole order on my own voluntarily and 2. If I really needed to have it again. Don’t get me wrong, it was delicious—two thick slices of Challah, eggy and custardy, fused with a heavy dose of sweet cream cheese filling, topped by a fair dusting of powdered sugar, rounds of banana and sticky sweet syrup. But like most everything else, it was a lot.

Honestly, it was a great brunch spot, busy, friendly and satisfying. The portions were large, the combinations were different and varied, and the atmosphere was homey and quirky at the same time. Unfortunately, my innovative and interesting sandwich did not match its potential for me, and it makes me think that I should just stick to the basics if I ever visit Sabrina's Cafe again (which I would... mostly for a half portion of the stuffed french toast).

RER 1.11.13

1 comment:

  1. That french toast looks good. yes their food is rich and overwhelming at times!



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