Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. There are very few days in the week that go by in which I don’t break my fast in a very calculated manner. I am not a cereal girl. Neither an oatmeal. Unless its steel-cut with apples simmered in cinnamon & butter. And I’m hoping that if you are reading a food blog, you share my fondness for the most important meal of the day. I probably love a brunch outing as much as I enjoy making coconut flour chocolate chip Belgian waffles touched with PB and bananas at home. But before I do, I carefully comb through a variety of Weekly, Stranger and Yelp reviews before making the faithful descent from PJ’s to skirt&leggings. I found St. Clouds because there was a rather hilarious review that I just had to see for myself, even despite several tens of glowing recommendations. Here’s a little teaser by the one (and opinionated) Aaron S.:

“…I moved past the pork tenderloin {which was previously compared to eating bland sawdust that belonged in a kitty litter box…} to the penne pasta soaking in a sauce covered in spinach, bacon, capers & tomato, topped with spinach aioli…sounds delicious, right?  Oh my god…all i can say is vomit in my mouth.  The sauce was some balsamic vinegar, broth a$$ that did not deserve another bite.” 

I wanted to see this for myself. I heart, Madrona. If it is home to Bottlehouse, how could she allow anything less than amazing?

I have to say Aaron S., you are on to something. Don’t let the other 125 medium-positive reviews make you second guess yourself. Even Galileo faced opposition from the Catholic Church when he challenged the Ptolemaic notion of an Earth-centered universe.

When I walked in, the decor was cozy and casual. Like. When sat down, I was surprised by good coffee. Which, should be a given. But! An empty cream pitcher? When they brought back the cream, turned out it was off and formed curds as it swirled through the coffee mug. Talk about a buzz-kill.

Then there were the specials. One was a seasonal-veggie-omeletewithsquashmarinatedinbalsamicvinagersundriedtomatoesmushrooms ricottasalataandatomatobalsamiccoulisontopofomelette and Biscuits and Gravy. At the end of the special announcment, I was like what the hell was in that seasonal omelette and my breakfast pal was like “what kind of gravy? is that all? whats so special about those biscuits and gravy?” Do you get my drift?

When I decided on the “special”, the waitress initially said they came with hash browns, and coffee cake or lime cake. I asked for a salad sub for taters, which is common right? She then responded that she’d have to charge me for a dinner size salad. Whoa whoa, lady. Hold your horses. This is brunch. Usually places charge $2 max sub charge, whats your beef? I just don’t want the hash browns, ever heard of the obesity epidemic? Greasy eggs, fried potatoes AND cake? I celebrate decadence but c’mon. She counter haggled “well…how about fruit?” substitute. Okay, sure i’ll take what I can get to avoid food coma. So it was brought out, fruit and all.

Literally, fruit and all. Do you see anything potentially gross here? Well I don’t particularly enjoy  pineapple and orange wedges oiled by a  savory tomato balsamic coulis, do you? Gross. The coulis was all I could taste, super strong vinegar notes and little reminiscent of tomato, other that the super tart overly sweet “sun-dried tomatoes” tuckered into the omelette. The slivers of dried tomato tasted like someone took dried tomatoes out of a plastic bag, reconstituted it with boiling water for 5 minutes then threw it in the egg veggie blanket. Ideally, you want to eat sundried tomatoes “sott’olio” style; meaning the sun-dried tomatoes “cured” under olive oil & salt, maybe capers and a smidge of vinegar to offset the sweetness that drying a tomato can dangerously ruin a dish for. I lived on a farm in Puglia for a short while, where I weeded, olive picked, repaired holes in olive catching nets the size of a football field with a net sewing needle by hand. And my reward at the end of the work day was the most amazing pomodore sott’olio con friselle. Which were basically sundried tomatoes, grown and dried on-site, submersed under peppery fresh olive oil (also produced onsite) infused with dried herbs and capers, which were enjoyed by the jar on top of friselle, which are ring shaped dried  bread resembling english muffin halves that must be slightly wetted 1st with spring water to soften up the ice crunch texture. So I did not feel like the tomato themed seasonal omelette truly did tomato justice. It was too sweet, too chewy and too slimy with the balsamic squash (whatever that means) and crimini mushrooms. Another chewy downfall was the overcooked, dried-out bland overly pine-sole-rosemary cover-up chicken sausage.

I think this charred image speaks for itself. And lent a poor 1st impression to my fellow diner who was curious about apple smoked chicken sausage. I felt compelled to convey that this should never be considered a frame of reference for anything “chicken sausage”.

The only saving umami grace was the ricotta salata that tried to hamper the chewy dried tomato and coulis sweetness.

That and the coffee cake saving face, which should have also been served on a separate plate in order to avoid the tomato coulis oil slick contamination.

This coffee cake was moist, buttery, melt in your mouth flowery caramelized nut crumbly goodness. It was full of spice and worth every carby calorie.

I think this St. Cloud’s should stick to whats good and consistent: like their signature coffee cake. And instead of trying to negotiate a dinner priced salad, at BRUNCH, for a simple common sub, they should be trying to negotiate better food. Get your head out of the clouds, Madrona. Earth called and they said St. Clouds should strictly be a buns and cake place round’ breakfast time.