One of San Diego's legendary chefs, Johnny Rivera of Hash House A Go Go recently opened the doors of his latest venture, Great Maple. Great Maple serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch. A baker head's heaven if you're talking about bread and pie.
Rivera's mission- "Great Maple is a simple declaration and appreciation for seasonal produce, responsible seafood and farm fresh American meat. We show our love of these great gifts as we protect and serve them in a room created for libation and conversation. A European dinette in America. And to be without pretense and celebrate daily seasonal items and of course pies!"
We started out with table side beignets served with lemon curd. They came out being shook around in a brown paper bag filled with powdered sugar, similar to that of Cafe du Monde in NOLA. They are made fresh and literally melt in your mouth. The lemon curd was so bright and airy, yet the acidity played off well with the sweetness from the beignets. We practically licked both bowls clean. Fun fact: Donuts and cinnabuns stacked on wooden logs get passed around the restaurant free for customers to taste.
Next up: Portabella mushroom fries and eggs. I know it doesn't sound breakfasty but my goodness if I ever craved anything deep-fried every day, it would be these Portabella mushroom fries dusted with Parmesan and served with pesto aoli. They were big chunks of cut up mushrooms deep fried to golden perfection. The various elements of the fries blended together so beautifully that I probably would have been satisfied without any eggs in the dish. Equally good were the fingerling potatoes; I don't care for potato skins but these potatoes on the whole were seasoned so delicately that the crunchy chip like skin made me hungry for more. They were really some of the best side potatoes I've ever had; my theory is that because they aren't the main attraction, restaurants often times tend to leave the side potatoes undercooked, unseasoned, slimy, or even missing. These were just right.
Lastly: Rock shrimp and polenta, which also doesn't sound brunchy but gave us a party in our mouths! The dish, cooked and served in a cast iron skillet, included fresh polenta with spiced sautéed rock shrimp, onion, roasted tomatoes, mozzarella curd and lobster bisque drizzle. As much as it sounds like there is too much going on, the flavors were, again, bonded together with such finesse that we were left in food heaven shock.
I adored the decor and ambiance. Think an old diner style layout with sassy Euro-flair, retro junk, mid-century fixtures, fresh flowers lining the tables, and lots of sunlight seeping through! It made me smile.
It's been so long since I've had an A+ brunch meal where each dish topped the one before it; today's session just reaffirmed my undying love for bruncheoning! This place has already become a favorite of mine as I see myself going back to try the other dishes [and PIES] from their lofty menus: breakfast, lunch, and dinner.