Breakfast. Union Square. Gag.
What is it about breakfast in heavily trafficked tourists spots? How has it become that crappy throw away meal, the one everyone seems to want, that restaurants could give a shit about making well? On the one hand, cooking an egg properly is one of the more difficult of kitchen tasks, which is to say, it is a somewhat challenging meal to make well. But still. The egg is one ingredient. Here, as in any everywhere else, the area with the highest concentration of hotels correlates to the area with the highest concentration of terrible breakfasts. Dried out bacon and toast, underseasoned, under crisped, potatoes, over or undercooked eggs. It’s a grisly scene.
Klyde is the new kid on the block, with operating hours that would make anyone who’s tried to eat around here during off hours sob with joy; 6:30-midnight. I actually can’t get a non-Starbucks cup of coffee in my neighborhood before 7:00, and don’t get me started on what happens after 10:00PM, when food options have bottlenecked to fast food or the all night diners on Mason st. Klyde is neither fast food nor a diner, it’s a wine bar & cafe (gasp!) and it’s open until midnight. Rapture.
My adoration is probably a little premature, as I have only had breakfast there. However, the breakfast is so top-notch, the ingredients so perfectly simple but so quality, the dishes not overly complicated but not at all the status quo, that it’s unfathomable to me that they can’t pull of lunch or dinner.
The restaurant is located under some cutely apportioned boutique hotel, though I’ve never noted the name of it, I’ve traipsed through the modern lobby plenty of times to use the restroom.
Klyde itself is a fairly small space, with a super French feel; black and white tile floors, bistro tables, pressed tin ceiling, big bubble bulbs over the bar.
On to breakfast. I’ll start with the simplest guy, the one that everyone offers, everywhere. Eggs, bacon, pancakes, aka “The Stack.”
The eggs were surprisingly cheesy (huge plus), the pancakes light and fluffy, the bacon, thick and chewy. Simple stuff I realize, but when contrasted with the same breakfast that we had the day before, at another local spot (brittle, carcinogenic flavored bacon, over cooked eggs, dense, gut bomb pancakes, artificially flavored syrup), the quality of the ingredients and the skill of the kitchen stood out.
While it’s not much to look at, the Duck Gravy with Hashbrowns was a revelation; the moment I knew that Klyde really meant to win over the hearts and minds of their diners.
The gravy was rich and full of pulled duck meat, layered over a well seasoned pile of hash browns with surprisingly crisp edges and soft, warm, potatoey insides. Those crispy hash browns were the piece de resistance, really. What a pleasant surprise to find them there, a crunchy textural addition under that mass of rich, wet gravy. Throw some perfectly runny yolk over the whole mess and you’ve arrived in heaven. We asked for a side of sourdough with it and were told they only serve white, so, a bit disappointed, we ordered white. Any negative feelings we had about the bread disappeared when it arrived, thick crusted, light, and delicious.
We ordered a side of merguez to accompany our duck gravy dish, which was spectacularly gamey. Good luck finding that at nearby breakfast spots.
On our last visit, we ordered the Ham & Eggs with Green Chile Grits and Tomatillo Salsa.
I’m always a bit wary with stuff like green chile and tomatillo. I feel like most places go too heavy with those two, and all of the other flavors are drowned out, and the whole dish just ends up tasting like green sauce. Not at all the case here. Those grits were so heavenly. They were toothsome, flavorful, not overpowering, and I swear, they were studded with bits of meat. It was hard to tell because we had cut up the eggs and mixed them in, but at any rate, those were some rocking grits. The ham steak is a perfect example of why I love Klyde. It’s just a ham steak, for crying out loud. But that ham steak; it was quality meat, bursting with sweet ham flavor, browned and juicy. Mouthwatering.
For dessert, another visit with their light, fluffy, blueberry pancakes:
Due up next, a dinner visit, for a sampling of their seafood heavy small plates, a platter of charcuterie and cheese, and, my kryptonite, some pasta. Stay tuned.
Klyde Café & Wine Bar
386 Geary St
San Francisco, CA 94102
Open Daily, 6:30-Midnight