Top Chef Jamie Lauren + Outdoor Breakfast!

Weather's supposed to warm up this weekend; time for outdoor eggs!

Arlequin has long been a favorite among my Hayes Valley friends for its inexpensive, high-quality breakfast (served daily), brunch, lunch and its huge outdoor patio, hidden within the block that houses Arlequin's sister properties, Arlequin Wine Merchant and Absinthe Brasserie.

And yes, therefore, San Francisco's sole Top Chef-testant Jamie Lauren of Absinthe also consults on the menus for Arlequin Cafe. Incidentally, the 1st episode of season 5 premieres on Bravo tonight!

Even during peak lunch hour on a recent Thursday, there was still a free table for chowing on perfectly crisp/moist roast chicken, a nice green salad with a light albacore tuna situation alongside, and well-executed fries, despite the healthy crowd.

(I wasn't in love with the lamb burger, got to say. Raw onion relish too raw, not NEARLY enough char to taste grilled, no lettuce. Blah.)

I always recommend Arlequin for Hayes Valley daytime dining, and I've always had good luck at the wine merchant next door, for that matter. (My Napa wine nerd friends agree on that tip.)

I especially appreciate Arlequin's weekday breakfast offerings, though, which are high-quality, decidedly not greasy, and rather gourmet. Grilled portobello on the side of my scrambled eggs? Yes please! (Although I hear they discontinued the mushroom option, sadly, replacing it with a fruit salad. You can still get bacon or sausage, though.)

The menu at Arlequin is a refreshing alternative to the overpriced schlock they serve at Stacks down the street. Are you kidding, Stacks? A Greek scramble with canned Pizza Hut-style black olives? You couldn't shell out for the kalamatas? Really?

Good thing someone is flying the flag for the local/sustainable thing when it comes to weekday breakfast in Hayes Valley! Notably, Modern Tea was a great spot for fresh, affordable, healthy food, too, but they've closed and might reopen for local cooking classes and such.

Domo Sushi is a reasonable place to pop in for a bite, though. Just the other night I scooted in for a quick fix of their hamachi jalapeno roll, spicy tuna roll with shiso, and a little bottle of $9 nigori sake, and it was easy as pie and tasty as can be -- even with prime time Saturday night crowds in effect! Can't live on pastries from La Boulange every day, can we.

Although we might like to.

photos: TB


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