Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Been There. Ate There. Wasn’t Impressed.

During our October 2011 stay in San Diego, we took a day and drove to Julian, CA. In my blog about the Julian Café & Bakery, I mentioned that we timed our trip for a Tuesday, a day on which we learned that most of Julian is closed. (Tuesday? Go figure.)
So the café was our only lunch option. After our meal, I rated this restaurant as 3.0 Addies. The gravy in Chuck’s chicken pot pie was a shade of yellow seldom found in nature. And the mushy texture of my turkey meatloaf was a sign of excess filler.
So why did we return? Our trip to the California Wolf Center started with a 4:00 a.m. wake up call. Now I don’t know about you, but breakfast is the last thing I want that early in the morning. Coffee, yes. Breakfast, no.
So, by the time we completed our photo tour, we were both really hungry. And the only spot in Julian for breakfast was the Julian Café & Bakery. Left with no other choice, and with stomachs growling, we decided to give the café another chance.

A sign outside the door reads: “Built 1872. Burned 1957.”

The original building was used as a general store for over fifty years, after which it was converted into a pool hall and bath house by Arthur Blanc. Mr. Blanc came under pressure from the local constabulary for permitting minors to frequent his establishment. (I can’t help but be reminded of Meredith Wilson’s The Music Man – “Ya got trouble, my friend, right here, I say, trouble right here in River City.”)

He was finally forced to vacate and the building became a photo studio owned by Pat Kirkpatrick, the official photographer of the San Diego Zoo. But the 1957 fire in an adjacent building destroyed half of the studio along with Mr. Kirkpatrick’s files and equipment. After this calamity he moved down the road to Poway. After the fire, the building was rebuilt to resemble the original 1872 one and from this point has housed a series of restaurants.
“Although Julian's picturesque setting attracts tourists, recreationalists and antique lovers, the town is most famous for its apple crop.
The apple variety grown locally is considered less sweet than most traditional types, but pies and cider made from the fruit have garnered great popularity for nearly 100 years” ( So it should come as no surprise that apples play a role in some of the breakfast menu items—including the Pancakes Julian, made with apples, walnuts, and oatmeal.

I chose the short stack of the cakes as my breakfast, along with a side of sausage. To say that these pancakes were hardy would be the ultimate understatement. When my short stack arrived with each cake almost plate sized, I knew that a portion would be coming home with me.
I have learned to only apply syrup to that portion I intend to eat at that moment lest the “to go” portion become soggy. So I doused half with syrup and proceeded to eat. These were delicious—crammed with slightly crisp apple pieces and lots of walnuts. I didn’t really detect the oatmeal, but assume that it contributed to the aforementioned hardiness. But yet these were not heavy. Just very filling. And my “to go” portion fed me breakfast for the next two mornings.

I was less than enamored with my sausages which came as two thin and very peppery patties. Don’t ask me why, but I like my sausage as links and not patties. And while they tasted of sage and thyme, black pepper predominated.

For Chuck it would be the Cinnamon Roll French Toast. The café took one of their giant house-made cinnamon rolls and cut it horizontally into three large slices.
When the top portion in particular was dipped in the egg wash and then tossed on the griddle, it developed a nice and almost brittle crust. And the roll had just enough cinnamon to balance the sweetness of the syrup.

Our friend Tom back in Philadelphia used to laugh and say that Chuck was the only person he knew that would order home fries with pancakes or French toast. Keeping tradition alive, Chuck—of course—added a side of said potatoes.
Rather than being cooked on a flattop, the cooked potatoes seemed to have been deep fat fried. Really good. Really, really good.

Well, breakfast proved to be a much better meal at the Julian Café & Bakery than was lunch. So good that it earns 4.0 Addies. It would have been 5.0 Addies if not for the sausage patties.

To review the role of Adler, Kitty Humbug, and the Addie rating system, read the November 14, 2011 blog.

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