By Frank Sabatini Jr.
When learning that brunch at Bo-beau kitchen + garden is held within a narrow window of time — between 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. and only on Sundays — I expected a torturing, stomach-growling wait. Visiting as a twosome at noon, we were almost tempted to grab a light nosh beforehand.
Fortunately, we didn’t.
Within seconds, a hostess ushered us to a roomy booth near several open tables. Very soon after, the high-octane cocktails we ordered landed under noses and our food orders were underway.
The atmosphere was idyllically peaceful, unlike so many brunch and breakfast spots where I’ve practically begged for a spoonful of sustenance while waiting in a circus-like line.
Bo-beau’s fast track into brunch is due partly to its impressive size. There’s ample indoor seating on two floors amid rustic accents, plus a commodious garden patio that’s probably the biggest outdoor dining space in all of La Mesa. Compared to the other Bo-beau kitchens in San Diego (Ocean Beach and Hillcrest), this wins the prize for most square footage.
Operating partner Michelle Kveen attributes La Mesa’s family-oriented demographic as another reason why brunch in the Village is so mellow, saying that parents want to enjoy domestic time with their kids on Sundays. She’s probably right, since nary a rugrat was in sight on the day of our visit, although the spacious patio is a welcome amenity for when they do show up.
Kveen is partners with the Cohn Restaurant Group, which fully owns the other locations of Bo-beau, not to mention a couple dozen other restaurants throughout San Diego County. Each Bo-beau menu is a little different with the exceptions of French onion soup, the restaurant’s famous roasted Brussels sprouts, the “burger royale” with pork belly and Gouda cheese, and the dinnertime offering of beef bourguignon.
We started with the onion soup and loved every drop, thanks to a properly salted broth spiked with sherry. The crock was capped by a requisite layer of hearty croutons covered in toasted Gruyere cheese. Color me predictable whenever I see this pedestrian item on a menu. But when structured this exquisitely, I can bathe in it.
We might have passed up the deviled eggs in lieu of another starter such as dates wrapped in bacon, or the pancetta-strewn Brussels sprouts, which I’ve savored at the other locations. Yet it was the notion of roasted jalapenos and crispy prosciutto accenting the eggs that sold us.
The piped yolk mixture was smooth and creamy. The jalapeno element, which we couldn’t visually detect, added a safe kick while crumbles of crispy prosciutto sprinkled on top contributed suitable bursts of saltiness.
My companion is a stickler for biscuits and gravy. Me not so much. Here, the biscuits are house-made and turned up buttery and flaky. Although we both agreed the sausage gravy could have withstood more sausage as well as a generous dose of black pepper.
It didn’t take long for the cocktails to limber our limbs. The refreshing, citrusy “La Mesa lemonade” was gulp-worthy despite strong measures of Absolut Citron and limoncello. And the “Ron Burgundy” carried the expected impact of scotch mixed with sauvignon blanc. Ginger beer rounded out the flavor.
We proceeded to a couple more dishes, such as a foot-plus-long flatbread carpeted with applewood-smoked bacon, tender pieces of pork belly, white cheddar, and onion jam. The ingredients jived well to a focaccia-like crust of medium girth.
A grilled chicken breast sandwich with bacon, avocado, lettuce and tomato on toasted sourdough tasted mediocre until slathering on excellent peppercorn aioli served alongside. It teased out the faint flavor of the chicken’s herb marinade and served as a dip for the extra-skinny pommes frites.
Missing from the menu are pancakes and traditional omelets. They’re compensated by French toast paired to cinnamon whipped cream, and an egg-white frittata with mushrooms and quinoa. Other choices extend to fried chicken and waffles, crab cake Benedict, and short rib hash.
We afterwards got our sweet fix across the street from the dessert case inside of Surf Rider Pizza Co., which led to a leisurely stroll through the Village, sans the breakfast/brunch hordes found in other quaint locales throughout San Diego County.
It was exactly how I like sliding into Sundays — with a full stomach that required no hassle to get it.
Bo-beau kitchen + garden
8384 La Mesa Blvd.
Brunch prices: Starters, $7.50 to $14; flatbreads, $17 to $19.50; jars and plates, $8.50 to $16.50
— Frank Sabatini Jr. is the author of ‘Secret San Diego’ (ECW Press) and began his local writing career more than two decades ago as a staffer for the former San Diego Tribune. You can reach him at email@example.com.