This one goes out to all my Bay Area foodies. If you don't know by now, Oakland is quickly becoming the new dining destination/culinary capital all the while receiving attention for fresh and authentic eats. Justified or not, the stereotype of holding on to your dear life as you enter Oak town is still lingering. I personally like the idea of being able to contribute to a developing scene. Enter Aunt Mary's Cafe located in one of the oldest and most vibrant neighborhoods of Oakland called Temescal.
Consider this your typical southern home style brunching. Biscuits, grits, and the whole nine. We ordered four dishes for a party of six [family style]. Pictured first is the Pain Perdue [as seen on Food Network's Diners Drive-In's and Dives]: cajun style french toast made with baguettes soaked in whiskey laced custard [note: the waiter confirmed all the alcohol contents are 100% burnt off during cooking] served with the fresh fruit of the day. I was a little hesitant at first because I don't like my items drenched in sweetness; however, this dish turned out to be a table favorite. It was perfectly savory with a drizzle of sweetness from the strawberries. The baguette was soft on the insides, crispy on the edges and had just the right chew.
Next was the Bloody Mary Eggs on Gruyere Toast: 2 eggs simmered in a bloody mary mix of roasted tomatoes, Worcestershire, Tabasco, and horseradish on an open face gruyere cheese sandwich, served with a roasted beet, brussel sprout, and carrot salad in orange curry vinaigrette. First off, I'm an eggs and toast kinda gal so this hit the spot for me. This dish was drenched in a spicy cajun style thick broth that just soaked up the entire toast. The yolk was really bursting with flavors because of this dish. Also- I normally don't eat salads that come as a side because the ingredients usually look old but this salad was the type of side salad that I would order as a main if I could.
Next we had Huevos Benedictos [featured as the spiciest of them all]: cheddar masa cakes with poachers and mole negro served with soy chorizo, guacamole and pico de gallo. If you've never tried Mole Negro before, this is the place to test it out. Mole Negro is generally made with a variety of peppers, sesame seeds, peanuts, almonds, chocolate, garlic, tomatoes, and much much more. This dish was so flavorful I literally licked the plate clean. The soy tofu chorizo was also seasoned to taste exactly like ground beef with cumin, coriander, and other spices.
Our final dish, of course, had to be a sweet one. We opted for the Boston Brown Bread Pancakes with Gingered Pear Compote: pancakes made with whole wheat, rye, and cornmeal, with a pear and ginger compote, and topped with whipped cream cheese. This dish didn't taste as heavy as a normal stack of pancakes generally would. It was not drowning in syrup and sugar [which I appreciated] but it was slightly drizzled with the pear ginger compote [genius mashup!]. If you do decide to do a savory/sweet combo, I would highly recommend this dish.
The restaurant was very homey with an artsy touch provided by a few upcoming local artists. I also really liked that the waiting area offered free coffee while you wait. The place is very open and casual with southern decor like a sheltered porch, big beams and light fixtures, etc. Note: Be prepared to witness the irony of hipsters rocking out to Tupac while waiting outside. I found it kind of entertaining.