Three times over the last month, starting with a Mother’s Day surprise, I dropped in on one of Hillcrest’s new
editions additions. That last link was a funny tribute to one of my childhood favorites, fitting because this delicious trek to Great Maple made me feel right at home. Here’s what happened…
I cheated a little with this post because there is really cool photography on the website. I’ve added a few of those to my own, slightly obsessive collection. Here’s a shot of the re-made dining area.
I mentioned that I’ve been here several times in its relatively short existence. The first time I went I noticed something that will make many of you happy. They offered coffee sources from Coffee & Tea Collective in North Park (I wrote about them here). I’ll save you the trouble and just say that they make a great cup of coffee, are careful about where they get that coffee and that the farmers get a decent price for it and they are part of the group of small businesses helping to really make over an important San Diego area. I’ll come back to the many ethically pleasing reasons to eat here and take this moment to show you this
This is their take on an Eggs Benedict, called a pork belly pop over. If you eat nothing else, put this on the list. It’s pork belly chunks, grilled asparagus, cherry tomatoes and cherry-smoked bacon (take that, Applewood!). I didn’t expect this, but the actual popover (a light, baked bread with crusty, flaky shell) was kind of delicious. It’s actually better than a traditional muffin I think because of how light it was on the inside. Plus, for whatever reason, it was really easy to get a bite that was in good proportions on the egg, asparagus and belly. That is, admittedly, too much time talking about the vehicle on which my fancy benedict arrived, but if you like pork belly and you want to switch it up from Urban Solace, this is a delightful choice.
Just a reminder before I start showing a bunch more food, this is over THREE visits (I swear). The first time, I took my mom and decided that was a perfectly appropriate time to start with one of these.
Yes, yes that is maple glaze with pieces of bacon on it! I know, you are probably tired of the bacon craze, right? Well, I am unapologetically not over bacon. Nor over sweet food items. I think these donuts would have been a tad better if the donut itself were either more light like a traditional glazed donut or more cakey. Still, the flavor of the donut was worth the purchase. The only odd part is it’s an order of three donuts. This doesn’t make sense to me. Why do restaurants ever create a standard order of three things? Can someone explain this? It is as though they are preparing for couples to always bring their friend who crashed on the couch the night before. Anyway, I had an enjoyable moment savoring my 1.5 donuts during this visit. My mom, traditionalist that she is, managed to give the “crazy” combination a try and seemed to enjoy it.
*insert wavy time lapse transition imagery*
I can’t animate my blog so let’s assume that did the trick. Fast forward a few weeks to trip number two. I’ve been consulting the Twitters for recommendations on good places to score quality chilaquiles. It’s not that I’m a particular fan of this food, but I feel like I should be. It has all the ingredients of something that ought to be downright fantastic. Enchilada sauce-soaked tortillas? Eggs? Cheese? Salsa? Baking? Okay, technically that’s not an ingredient. And technically it might not even be baked. Anyway, so far I’ve gotten recommendations from Jeff Davis and Rachel Laing. Both of them are apparently committed to the consumption of chilaquiles. And given that, I will likely send this part of the post straight to them! Wait, before I go on, look
I am hungry all over again (which is what I get for typing this before breakfast). Despite multiple recommendations and even taking a run at this dish up in Orange County once on a massive Yelp cascade of 5-star reviews, I hadn’t ever really been properly wowed by the chilaquiles. Until this one. Look at that picture. I think the thing Great Maple gets very right on this dish is that the texture of the cooked portion of chips isn’t too mushy to feel like you are eating tortillas that had been soaking in a bath. Maybe it was the fresh chorizo. No disrespect to classic taco shop chorizo with all its “special bits” but this was way, way better. Good, strong seasoning and no mystery adventure along the way. Throw in some chile verde salsa, queso fresca, roasted red peppers and well, just damn. If I weren’t such a huge fan of the popover this might make my list. No, actually, it is on my list. Have some. You’ll be glad you did. I feel at least moderately obligated to show you the scramble one of my friends ate. It was good. Yes, that is a boring description of food. Here’s the thing, it’s a scramble. Were the eggs properly scrambled? Sure. Was the medley of vegetables in good proportion? Absolutely. But it’s kind of like Chris Rock’s bit about bragging about taking care of your kids, you know what I mean?
Suffice it to say the scramble was, in fact, a nice and safe order if you have someone in your group who wants something simple and reasonably tasty. It is hard for me to justify going to a restaurant and ordering a scramble, but then again Wife makes a mean scramble so I always feel like we should just save the money and eat at home if we aren’t going to go hard for breakfast. Of course, going out relieves us each of one less than thrilling chore, so sometimes scrambles make their way to one of our plates. Like the one at Parkhouse Eatery with the serranos and carnitas–mmmmm, carnitas–I digress. So, we had a scramble. It tasted like a scramble. That’s all I got. Last thing I should show you. This is just plain odd, but a fun moment just the same. Those of you who came here when it was the old place will remember that the Bloody Marys used some odd off-brand alcohol that wasn’t really alcohol because of some permitting issue or other. Feast your eyes on this
This is a gratuitous photo meant to shock and awe you. Yes, the octopus is edible and yes I had a bite. I think it was pickled. It wasn’t bad. The Mary was made with actual vodka, apparently the new owners found a way to make that happen. Vodka in the morning, even cleverly disguised as octopus-filled tomato juice, is typically a bit much for me so I can’t say that I finished this thing. It added to our experience so I decided to toss in a photo.
Oddly, I can’t find all the very interesting stuff I read about how much care they take to get food that is sustainably raised or grown. Next time I go I’ll pay more attention so that perhaps I can update the post. I can’t say that I have a vivid memory of my servers, who are generally important to my dining experience (even at breakfast). There was one woman who, even though she wasn’t our actual server was pretty hilarious and if she isn’t serving yet she should be. She made a flawlessly times crack about my buddy’s hangover, had the right amount of enthusiasm for the food and even snuck in a recommendation or two. Our server on that trip was also pleasant, but it has been a few weeks. I’ve failed this part of my own review so I’ll stop talking about it. Instead I’ll leave you with this delightful picture of the back patio, which I’ve never sat in but seems really cozy if you catch the weather right. Great Maple is open on both Saturday and Sunday and opens early enough for people like Wife and I if we missed the 7AM Snooze call. If you are looking for a place to try next weekend, hop on your bike, grab some sunshine, and head down to Great Maple. You’ll be glad you did.