Beehive

This place should have been a surefire win: a place with buzz in the South End, my favorite part of Boston. What happened? I was sick shortly afterward. I know the two were unconnected (S and L never got sick), but still, it colored my experience of the whole place. I’m sure the food was fine, but you know how it is when you’re ill, you can’t be objective about these things.

I think that the atmosphere was nice, with fairly unobtrusive music that was nonetheless quite good, and they have a nice outdoor seating area if it’s nice out when you happen to go.

However, because my view of this place has been prejudiced, I shall leave you with photos of the food we ate, without further commentary.

S’s meal: kale, spinach, and Swiss cheese omelet.

L’s meal: eggs shakshuka and Moroccan sausage

My meal: thick-cut french toast, chantilly cream, maple syrup

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Centre Street Cafe

I don’t spend much time in Jamaica Plain. Maybe, judging by Centre Street Cafe, I should.

Parking was street parking, and I did have to park a little way down the street, but it wasn’t bad at all. I got there early, and they let me get a table while waiting for L and S. That doesn’t happen at a lot of brunch places, which will usually refuse to seat you until your whole party is there. Centre Street Cafe is small, and I was happy to be given one of the last remaining tables to wait for them to get there. And the people who worked there were quite pleasant about it, friendly without being overbearing, walking that line that’s so difficult to walk in New England.

Better than the service, though, was the food. OMG THE FOOD.

I had a special, which was a chipotle eggs Benedict. Best. Eggs. Benedict. Of the brunch experience. It was just *fabulous,* just enough amount of kick to the sauce, and all the flavors melded instead of one being overpowering, and it was seriously delicious.

L had the Cafe French toast, an unusual choice for him, but one he definitely did not regret. LOOK at the fruit on that French toast. And it was quality fruit, not just melons. I also made L get the biscuit of the day, which was some type of cheddar thing. Also delicious.

S had the Truckstop Breakfast: eggs, home fries, bacon, and pancakes. All of it delicious. Look at that bacon. Look how well done that bacon is.

One of the best brunches we enjoyed. I highly recommend this place.

Bacon: 4 out of 5

Scope of Menu: 4 out of 5

Taste of Food: 5 out of 5

Service: 5 out of 5

Ambience: 4 out of 5

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Deluxe Town Diner

Another diner, yes. But this one came with bonus milkshakes!

This place is somewhat hidden out in the suburbs. Plus New England did that annoying thing where it has two addresses right next to each other, one in one town and one in another town, separated by something like six blocks, which means it is very easy to spend a ton of time circling a plaza looking for this place because you’re at the right address but in the wrong town and need to drive another six blocks. Then, once you find it, parking can be a challenge, and the place is crowded and noisy. Keep in mind we’d just come off a week at Aquitaine.

Also, the people next to us were eating lunch. I know it was technically brunch, but I hate when people eat lunch foods at breakfast!

However, the milkshake (note that, in true Boston fashion, it was actually a frappe, because a milkshake in Boston doesn’t have ice cream) was quite delicious and a nice treat (if a bit early in the morning for such things).

The food here was fine, but not outstanding.

L had potato pancakes and said they were good.

S had the “sour cream flapjacks,” which sound kind of gross to me but are the specialty of the house, and she said they were good.

I had the french toast. Like everyone else, I can say: It was good. Note the bacon, though. Fabulous, crispy bacon.

Bacon: 4 out of 5

Scope of Menu: 3 out of 5

Taste of Food: 4 out of 5

Service: 4 out of 5

Ambience: 3 out of 5

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Aquitaine

I had always heard fabulous things about Aquitaine for dinner, but I had never really met anyone who had been to Aquitaine for brunch. So we set out to change that by going ourselves.

The restaurant itself is truly lovely. It’s much bigger than it looks from the outside, and it’s much brighter than many other South End restaurants can be (Metropolis, for instance, while I love it, can feel dark). Also, we went on Saturday, when Aquitaine does a well-worth-it prix fixe menu. You get a ton of quality food, all for $9.95. A truly great value at such a fabulous place. However, I have to say, of the South End restaurants we went to for brunch, I think that Aquitaine was my least favorite.

It kind of started with the drinks. It’s a pet peeve of mine that breakfasts come with “bottomless coffee.” Why can’t breakfasts come with “bottomless coffee or tea”? Seriously? I feel like I must have had a mimosa at this place–I always did–but I don’t see it on the table here and I don’t remember it, so maybe I was just so overwhelmed with the tea and juice I was getting with the prix fixe that I just didn’t order it?

Our prix fixe meals all came with this little cinnamon roll. It was adorable and tasty.

I had an omelet with bacon, tomatoes, and gruyere cheese. It was very good, but it was way too much food for me, with the cinnamon roll and all the drinks. Also, in the end, it was just an omelet, you know?

S had an omelet with mushrooms, leeks, and boursin cheese. She loved it, but again: too much food.

L had eggs scrambled with peppers, onions, tomatoes, and ham. Compared to S’s and my pretty omelets, this looked like a mess, but he adored it.

See?

S was only able to finish half her omelet but she did so very daintily.

I made an enormous mess. Please note the shredded bacon. We had to order the bacon on the side and it was a huge disappointment. The shredded bits were what I deemed not-crispy-enough-to-eat.

Bacon: 2 out of 5

Scope of Menu: 3 out of 5

Taste of Food: 4 out of 5

Service: 5 out of 5

Ambience: 5 out of 5 (I can’t help it; it’s the South End)

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Canteen

We tried to go here for brunch. Only we couldn’t, because it was unexpectedly closed, without warning. FAIL.

Bacon: 0 out of 5

Scope of Menu: 0 out of 5

Taste of Food: 0 out of 5

Service: -1 out of 5 (for not having hours on their website)

Ambience: 0 out of 5

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Sofra

Sofra is another place I didn’t want to go to, and I whined and complained about it. I am a delightful person to be friends with, I really am. But Sofra (1) didn’t have service (!!!!); and (2) DIDN’T HAVE BACON. WHAT KIND OF BREAKFAST PLACE DOESN’T HAVE BACON? A SUSPICIOUS ONE.

But, as usual, ignore me, because SOFRA WAS AWESOME. An extremely unusual and unique choice for breakfast in the Boston area, and it ended up being one of my favorites.

It’s very small and crowded, although there is a parking lot. I recommend going, if you can, on a day when you can sit outside, where there’s a bit more room. The tables aren’t really tables, in that they’re so low that you have to lean over them to get at your food, in a bit of a crouch. The effect is rather like eating on your lap. However, even with all that, Sofra is definitely worth it. The food is phenomenal.

The bakery is Eastern Mediterranean, and it has a ton of baked goods tempting you, so even though you’ve ordered breakfasts, you can’t help but also want one of those delicious baked goods, too.

The tart was the “seasonal fruit tart,” which happened to be rhubarb, and it was DELICIOUS, the pastry extremely flaky and buttery. There was a seed on the cinnamon-roll-looking thing that I didn’t care for, alas, and I don’t think I tried the pound-cake-looking thing, because I’m not usually a big fan of pound cake.

S and I, not being adventurous, both got the egg sandwich, which was the most recognizable thing on the menu and the only thing with BACON. It was very different–the cheese was a different type than you would get on an American egg sandwich–but extremely delicious, slightly sharper than a traditional egg sandwich.

My friend H tagged along for this brunch, and she had this, which was something with yogurt and chorizo. I admit I have no idea what the rest of the dish was, but she said it was delicious.

L had the traditional Turkish breakfast. It was fascinating. It was like a little plate full of things that didn’t look as if they should go together but were apparently delicious. That was thick yogurt with some kind of sweet sauce, cucumbers and olives, and fried feta (which I tried and was AMAZING). And that thing on the left, that looks like a bird’s nest?

LOOK, IT WAS A SOFT-BOILED EGG. I loved this breakfast place, for me it was like eating inside Alice in Wonderland. I thoroughly enjoyed it. And the best part of all?

The iced tea. I don’t remember what it was called now, which is a huge shame, but it’s the special iced tea they have there, you’ll see it on the menu. It’s got a long list of ingredients that don’t necessarily sound like they will taste the way this iced tea tastes. But this iced tea is fabulous. It doesn’t taste anything like iced tea. It tastes like sunshine, a bright explosion on your tongue. Most light iced teas taste a lot like Arnold Palmers. This one doesn’t. It’s an extremely light and flavorful iced tea that doesn’t taste like it was watered down with lemonade. Trust me, this iced tea alone is worth the journey out to Sofra. You won’t regret it.

Bacon: N/A

Scope of Menu: 2 out of 5 (let’s face it, it’s a very limited menu)

Taste of Food: 5 out of 5 (everything we had here was delicious. Especially that iced tea)

Service: N/A

Ambience: 3 out of 5 (it really is a bit crowded. Everyone’s very friendly, but it’s probably a better take-out place)

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Plough & Stars

I had, for a while, really wanted to go to Plough & Stars, because I lived right down the street from the place and it had a traditional English breakfast. After the disappointment of the prior week’s grilled tomato, we figured we’d try again with this place.

Well, the grilled tomato was much better, authentically English in the way that it was grilled, but, otherwise, this place was a little bit of a disappointment.

First, I had a mimosa, which was decent but not life-changing. Second, the bacon was not good. We have learned through our brunch excursions that applewood-smoked bacon is almost never going to be cooked to our desire level of crispiness. So I supposed that is something for us to avoid in the future. But, if you are a crispy bacon person, don’t go here. Finally, for the food that we had, the place was expensive. I know it’s in Cambridge and all that, but its atmosphere isn’t charming enough that I felt I should be paying Cambridge prices.

That said, this place did have something totally amazing: the toast. Its toast was PHENOMENAL. And I know you’re sitting there, like, “Toast? Huh? How can toast be phenomenal?” I don’t know, but this toast was. All of us agreed it was basically the best toast we’d ever had.

We all had some variation on eggs:

L. went for the full English breakfast, complete with baked beans and blood pudding. I think he was disappointed in both the beans and the pudding.

I had a more American-style breakfast, with grilled tomato on the side. Loved the grilled tomato, it was a proper grilled tomato.

S. had an omelet, which she said was fine.

S.’s friend H. was in town and tagged long with us for this brunch. She also had eggs, which she also termed fine. But, really, it’s pretty hard to mess up eggs like that.

Bacon: 2 out of 5

Scope of Menu: 3 out of 5

Taste of Food: 4 out of 5 (on the strength of that fabulous toast)

Service: 4 out of 5

Ambience: 3 out of 5

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