In a nutshell: Go early if you want to avoid the long line at this brunch hotspot just inland of Venice Beach. Steer clear of menu items that have way too many ingredients going on in one dish, but any one of the twenty varieties of French toast would be an excellent choice!
Searching for a brunch place in L.A. brought me to the website of 26 Beach. When I saw this homepage:
I was stunned. Sushi? Hamburger? TOGETHER? I was pretty much sold. I’m kinda a sucker for novelty dishes like this, so I jumped at the opportunity.
There are two pros to getting to 26 Beach early: 1) the line grows by the minute outside the front door, especially if you go on a popular brunch day, and 2) parking can be a bit of a hassle in the area.
There are two dining areas, a more formal one inside and a rather eclectic one outside. We elected for the outside patio: it’s bright and airy, with garden decor that was reminiscent of an Alice in Wonderland tea party.
The gigantic regular menu is accompanied by a second specials menu, presenting one with quite the decision to make. It’s rather overwhelming the first time you look at it, and it’s best to break it down into sections. Take your pick from craftsman burgers, salads, sandwiches, pastas, entrées, and the most important category of all: brunch. Brunch itself is broken down into sub-categories of French toast, pasta scrambles, “The Royals” (eggs over brown rice, Hawaiian style), and “The Supporting Cast” (essentially miscellaneous items).
With three of us there, we aimed to hit different sections of the menu with our dishes.
You can imagine our difficulty in selecting just one French toast variety to try when there are twenty (yes, I repeat–twenty) different types of French toast on the menu. I was extremely tempted by the Polar Bear (two French “croissant” toasts with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, fresh berries, melba sauce, and grated white chocolate), Pineapple Coconut (baked coconut bread custard, caramelized fresh Maui pineapple, and fresh blueberries topped with homemade coconut and blueberry syrups), and Caramel Macchiato (challah bread dipped in espresso batter with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, caramel sauce, and a shot of espresso syrup to pour on top).
We ended up going with the Verry Berry, in which the eggy toast was topped with an assortment of fresh berries, warm chocolate sauce, and your choice of pecan syrup or melba sauce (we elected for the pecan syrup).
The toast, soft and eggy with a light crispness on the exterior, is the perfect vehicle for the dreamy syrup, made from real maple with whole pecans marinating in the sweet viscous liquid. The berries and slices of fruit (the chef decided to include kiwis as well in our fruit mixture– hey, the more fruit, the better!) provided a refreshing punch.
They should really just rename the French toast category “Dessert for Breakfast.”
The Steak and Eggs was just that: steak and eggs. An 8-9 oz. hand-cut steak was seared expertly in a pan and plated alongside fresh eggs and your choice of breakfast potatoes or rice pilaf. Nothing incredibly special, but hearty and filling nonetheless.
And now, for what drew me to the restaurant in the first place: the infamous sushi hamburger. There are actually three sushi burgers on the menu: Chef Katsu’s Original California Roll Sushi Burger, Yuki’s Spicy Tuna Sushi Burger (with chopped ahi tuna), and the Mori Eel Sushi Burger (with grilled unagi and eel sauce). We had to get the California Roll Sushi Burger, the one that started it all.
Composed of an 8 oz. Angus beef patty, snow crab salad, avocado, ginger, mixed baby greens, tomato, nori, and shoyu-wasabi-aioli, this was a Japanese-American party in one neat package. The burger was so gigantic that I could barely wrap my teeth around it. There were a lot of flavors going on at one time; while the components were tasty on an individual basis, there were too many for my palette to focus on all at once. The burger patty, while quite meaty and massive, also seemed a little undercooked. The fries were fine, nothing super-exciting. What might be interesting is if the snow crab salad was served on the side instead of on the burger itself to be used for dipping purposes. Ooh, snow crab fries…
With such an enormous menu, I could see myself coming back multiple times just to try the vast number of French toast varieties.
3100 Washington Boulevard