Biting into OC Brunch - Early Bird Cafe

[Note: Frank DeLoach was the Executive Chef of Early Bird Cafe at the time of the interview but is now at a different restaurant.] When it's breakfast time in Fullerton, my mind immediately jumps to Early Bird Cafe. I blame everyone around me who has had the same idea and keep on posting about this place. It only made sense that Early Bird Cafe would be one of the restaurants we'd visit during our brunch tour of Orange County and luckily, it was open very early so we could start our interview off without much disturbance from guests. Focused on making great breakfast from as local and organic of ingredients as possible, the restaurant sees plenty of regulars who know exactly what they want when they come and will not hesitant to pick that again and again. We spoke with (then) Executive Chef Frank DeLoach and started right off the bat asking what he thought brunch meant to him. His answer? "It needs to be breakfast and lunch. I want to go somewhere that's delicious and pretty easy on setting. I don't want to feel like I have to go to a buffet table or have all these different juices in my champagne."

Early Bird Cafe was formed by owners Marcelo Caraveo and Charles Menzie who wanted to elevate the brunch cuisine without compromising what people know and love about this time of day. The menu is definitely driven by finding the best available produce and proteins from organic, sustainable and local sources when possible/available. In fact, DeLoach confessed that they do not even own a freezer because they are trying to use every bit of what they get, and they get it daily. The interior of the restaurant is simple but beloved, and though the dishes are typically American in cuisine, they do have international influence. In addition to their attention to detail on their food, they also are known for their coffee which is imported as green coffee and roasted daily. As Menzies puts it, Early Bird believes that "coffee is the soul of EB" and takes very particular steps to ensuring the best quality is produced every time. Rumor has it that they're building a roastery soon in Orange County as well!

"My guys in the back are really good egg cooks. When someone orders an over medium, they’re going to get an over medium egg. They want over easy - soon as the white sets, we flip it and turn off the pan. Whatever you want, we’ll do it and we’ll do it the right way. It pisses some of my guys off when we have to soft scramble one because I make them do it the old French way where it’s on the heat, off the heat, back and forth until it just sets with a little nob of butter." - Executive Chef Frank DeLoach
Seeing as the restaurant is focused on breakfast, they certainly run through plenty of eggs. If you're wondering how many, prepare to pick your jaw off the floor. More than 4,200 eggs are consumed in a typical week at Early Bird Cafe! No wonder DeLoach said that the cooks are masters of cooking eggs (dare I say, eggs-perts?). The two items most sought after would have to be their Benedict plates and the French toast, both of which we had the pleasure of trying. The French toast was a beast of its own and not like anything we expected. Thick blocks of brioche bread that had been soaked in a batter of egg, vanilla, cinnamon sugar, and nutmeg were stacked on each other before being covered in orange butter, homemade apple sauce, orange segments, toasted almonds, and powdered sugar. Though many places may oversweeten their French toast, the volume of bread in this plate was a good way to prevent this from happening, and the dish itself was perfect. Fluffy but savory, the French toast easily was one of my favorites from all of the places we visited. We also tasted the traditional Eggs Benedict which came with poached eggs, buttered and toasted English muffin halves, and quality speck with crisped edges. The in-house hollandaise was a pleasant touch with its whole butter and addition of Sriracha.

"We go through so many eggs, it's stupid."
If you want to get in on the Early Bird Cafe action, you can find them at 1000 B E Bastanchury Rd, Fullerton, CA 92835, serving up breakfast and lunch all days of the week. We noticed that they are very child-friendly as well and happily welcome families for their morning meals. With a philosophy that everyone should leave the restaurant content and smiling, Early Bird Cafe is dedicated to its customers and the integrity of their ingredients. Check them out if you want great eggs and a place to mark as a favorite breakfast joint.

Photography by Duc Duong. More photos available on Facebook here.

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!