Biting into OC Brunch - Crow Bar & Kitchen

We parked around the back in the small empty lot, wondering when they would become busy enough to warrant the use of their "Complimentary Valet Only" sandwich board. Was it brunch that many flock to or was it the lunch/dinner service? Apparently both. For more than six years, Crow Bar & Kitchen has been serving brunch to their regulars from this Corona del Mar spot that could have easily turned people away due to parking. However, if you have something people want, they will come. We had arrived prior to opening to make sure we wouldn't disrupt service by shooting the dishes and taking up one too many tables but it was fairly set for brunch already, complete with iconic crow platters. Focused on fresh ingredients and seasonal trends, the restaurant aims to bring quality to traditional American breakfast favorites as we soon saw.

But of course, what place could have "Bar" in the name and not feature libations? There was quite the expansive beer list and bar which we spotted right upon entering. The blackboards noted beers on draft and warned against finding beers in commercials in their bar. Don't worry - these aren't just for lunch and dinner. The brunch menu seems to promote them as well. If cocktails are more your style, we checked out two "hair of the dog" mixes - the Salty Dog with its tasty and refreshing grapefruit juice and the Bloody Mary made with their own house mix and infused serrano pepper vodka.

The brunch menu spoke to us in the same manner that owner Steve Geary described it to be - showcasing staples of traditional American breakfast items because that meal of the day is a habitual routine. The window lighting provided for a lovely set-up for both pictures and to remind a weekender that yes, it was time to be awake and yes, that is the sun that is out. I mention the breakfast items but since brunch is a combination of both daytime meals, you should also know that there are plenty of "lunch"-like items as well (at about a 50/50 split between the two genres). We just happened to browse through breakfast!

One cannot be in Orange County and opt not to serve up a Breakfast Burrito ($9 - organic eggs, avocado, nitrate-free bacon, vine ripe tomato, sweet onions, famous crow cheese blend), a wrap that was too much avocado for my liking but probably perfect for those fruit-butter seekers. There was, of course, an American Breakfast ($12 - two fried organic eggs, sausage patty, two strips of nitrate-free bacon, roasted potatoes) options that looked quite typical but made with ingredients carefully chosen vs. a chain breakfast place. In particular, I looked at the Crow Benedict ($16 - crispy pork belly, spoon spinach, two organic eggs, avocado, black pepper hollandaise) with high expectation considering they decided to change up the traditional benedict style and affix their namesake on the dish. It was great to have the pork belly in place to add more saltiness and savoriness to the morning but I found the avocado distracting. That hollandaise, however, had a nice touch from the black pepper. To attempt to combat the heaviness of such a dish, we were served an Egg White Scramble with several types of vegetables - this is from their Build Your Own section of scrambles so the price does vary by ingredient choices. Perhaps it was because this one was for photo purposes but we both found it a tad bland. Hopefully that's not the impression people get of healthy food! Lastly, a towering Crow Break-Wich ($7.50 - fried organic egg, nitrate-free bacon, Nueske ham, Tillamook cheddar cheese, griddled English muffin) with a sexy runny egg was out, the perfect upgraded "Egg McMuffin" that some may have grown up eating in the morning.

If you are curious about checking out Crow Bar & Kitchen for brunch, they serve it up both days of the weekend and can be found at 2325 E Coast Hwy, Corona del Mar, CA 92625. Our thanks go out to Steve for having us that morning before all of the brunch time hullabaloo.

Photography by Duc Duong. More photos to be available on Facebook.

NOTE: This brunch article is a part of a series that we will be running through to April, the month when the full editorial will appear with a multitude of more articles and informational pieces in the Orange County edition of LOCALE Magazine. Make sure to check stands when the issue drops so you can get the full scoop on brunch in OC!

Crow Bar and Kitchen on Urbanspoon