Monday, September 5, 2011

Some Selected Quotes...


From John H: “An East Coasters paradise!.. this is a culinary oasis awaiting your arrival...I dream about the fresh made corned beef hash...”

From Ivan S: “Thanks again, Yelp, for showing me where to get the best damn corned beef hash in town...It was from a hole-in-the-wall diner with rickety tables and frequented by guys who wear flannel and trucker caps...With strips of real corned beef, there was nary a can in sight.”

From Julian P: “In my opinion you will not find a better breakfast or a better value for your breakfast in Napa. This place is AWESOME! The food is old school greasy spoon style diner food...Do yourself a favor if you haven't been and go!”
From Toni K: “This is a hidden gem in Napa...I had the Huevos Rancheros. My companion had the Corned Beef Hash. Both were incredible. The Corned Beef Hash was authentic—no canned stuff here! The portions were huge.”

And, finally, from Jennifer W: “Amazing biscuits and gravy...It's a very small establishment with a short bar for single diners and only 6 booths for groups so get there early or you might have to wait. The food is to die for though, authentic greasy spoon feel...”

It is the first day of our month-long visit to Napa, CA and what better way to start than with a good and big breakfast. So off to the Soscol Cafe we went. The cafe is only open for breakfast and lunch and the lunch menu didn’t deviate from your typical diner’s offerings. For breakfast you can choose from chicken fried steak and eggs, breakfast burritos, huevos rancheros, hot cakes, french toast, the Javi sandwich (named for the owner, Javier Ceja, and containing linguica, two eggs, lettuce, tomato, avocado, and cheese), or the machaca omelette (chorizo, potatoes, onions, spinach, tomato, cheese, and salad [?]).

Chuck wanted to order the biscuits and gravy, but the full order included home fries or hash browns and two eggs. Could he get a half order with potatoes? What transpired reminds me of that famous line from Cool Hand Luke: "What we've got here is (a) failure to communi-cate." What he got was one split biscuit covered with sausage gravy (so far so good), a full order of home fries (still ok), and two strips of bacon. All for just $0.50 less than the full order with potatoes and eggs.

I will admit that the sausage gravy was better than average and looked as though the “white” sauce had been made with the sausage drippings which accounts for the brownish color. The biscuits were no better—although not worse—than the biscuits found outside of the South. The home fries were large chunks of potato that had been nicely browned. The bacon was crisp and dry (by this I mean not greasy).

I’m a sucker for corned beef hash and couldn’t resist after reading the accolades bestowed by the above reviewers. With the hash (which contained large chunks of potato and red onion slices) came two eggs (over easy) and a side of hash browns. (I know. Since hash contains potatoes, it is unusual to also have these served on the side.) The hash browns obviously came from a bag, but when was the last time you saw homemade hash browns? And the eggs were nicely cooked with firm whites and suitably runny yolks.

Now for the hash. Huh? The people quoted above have been spending too much time hanging out at winery tasting rooms. This was the worst hash I have encountered. And that is after eating a lot of corned beef hash. The corned beef had been cut in thick strips and, to make it worse, cut with the grain rather than against. Talk about chewy. Talk about inedible. Talk about awful.

This may be a Napa favorite for those nostalgic for days gone by. But other than having a lot of local color, it has little else to recommend it and only earns 2.0 Addies (for the pretty good sausage gravy).

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