There is more to brunch than mimosas, omelets and french toast. Let’s begin by slamming a few common misconceptions about this awkwardly-timed meal that squeezes itself somewhere between 10 am and 2 pm.
First off, brunch is not just for the lazy folks who simply cannot get themselves out of bed on Sunday mornings, or the housewives of Beverly Hills who have nothing better to do after dropping their kids off at soccer practice.
Second, the nature of the meal does not allow it to be rushed the way breakfast is. Instead, there is a whole religion that comes with brunching that only a few understand and worship. Brunch is to be enjoyed by everyone: businessmen, highschoolers, families. It is supposed to be time-consuming, helping to take your mind off work and the chaos of reality. It should not only revolve around the food, but also the setting, company and conversations.
Living in an urban hub like Los Angeles means you will never run out of brunch places to try. But more importantly, with beaches and summer-weather all year round, Angelenos are blessed with beautiful outdoor restaurants and salty air, a rare ambience in other cities. This week, I ventured down to The Tasting Kitchen on Abbot Kinney, an up-and-coming food mecca in Venice Beach, just twenty minutes west of campus.
Ambience: Abbot Kinney is the West Coast’s version of New York’s SoHo and Boston’s Newbury Street. Located in Venice Beach, it draws customers from near and far with cute stores and chic restaurants.
With beautiful wooden high tables and stools in one area, smaller table-for-two’s in another and a second floor that boasts a huge bookshelf, it is the interior design that really sets The Tasting Kitchen apart from its competitors. Though not particularly fancy, it resembles a bachelor pad, homey and rustic, adding a sense of ease and peace.
Food: The brunch menu is short but varied, with both savories and sweets.
I started my meal with biscuit and jam ($5). The biscuit itself was baked perfectly — not too dense, not too hollow. What really made this item stand out though, was the blackberry jam. Its thick, pulpy texture combined with its fresh and sweet flavor were perfect complements to the saltiness of the creamy butter. When combined with the biscuit, it made for one interesting bite.
For my main dish, I decided to go big and get the steak and eggs ($25), a Tasting Kitchen classic. Their twist on this traditional brunch item made me swoon. The steak was covered in a buttery-glaze that accented the rosemary and spice dressing. I admit this leans more towards lunch, perhaps even dinner, because of how heavy it is, but it is the perfect cure to a hangry (that’s hungry and angry combined) morning. The eggs save it from becoming a dish on a six-course dinner, giving the item a more casual, morning feel.
Everything else on the menu was standard breakfast-lunch food, such as scrambled eggs ($9) and grilled cheese ($11), but you won’t find any diner classics here. The Tasting Kitchen tries to add a little oomph into all their dishes, like adding fried oyster to their omelet selection, or by giving their menu items ambiguous names (take “bacon maple bar,” for example) to make the customers curious.
Uracha’s Tip: The Tasting Kitchen definitely appeals to an older crowd. Many of the customers I sat with were in their mid-twenties and thirties. This shouldn’t make you feel uncomfortable dining here; just a little FYI in case you are looking for a more youthful scene.
One major downside is that the wait can get really long. Make sure you call ahead or make your reservation in person before getting distracted by the beauty of Abbot Kinney. Because of the restaurant’s convenient location, you can always take a stroll down the block while you’re waiting to be seated.
1633 Abbot Kinney Blvd
Venice, CA 90291