Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Cafe 222 - Marina District - San Diego - CA

Cafe 222 222 Island Ave, San Diego, CA 92101, (619) 236-9902

photograph picture of the San Diego Skyline. Filed under Cafe/Restaurant Review, San Diego, Cafe 222

Below is a picture of the line of people waiting to eat brunch af San Diego's hottest brunch spot, Cafe 222. Reservations are not possible and the wait for a table is well over an hour. We investigate to see if the hype surrounding this popular Cafe is to be believed.
photograph picture of the line for brunch. Filed under Cafe/Restaurant Review, San Diego, Cafe 222 Marina District

Cafe 222, opened in 1991 by Terryl Garve has won several gold medallion awards for Best breakfast.
photograph picture of the line for brunch. Filed under Cafe/Restaurant Review, San Diego, Cafe 222 Marina District

We are finally seated inside, although we would have preferred a sunny sidewalk table. The decor displays some cute quirky touches that bring a smile to my face.
photograph picture of cans of spam. Filed under Cafe/Restaurant Review, San Diego, Cafe 222 Marina District
photograph picture of cans of spam. Filed under Cafe/Restaurant Review, San Diego, Cafe 222 Marina District

photograph picture of the fruit cabinet. Filed under Cafe Review, San Diego, Cafe 222, Marina District I ask for a bowl of fruit. Sorry, they tell me, we don't have any left. This strikes me as slightly peculiar since I am seated opposite a glass cabinet packed with fresh oranges, melons and bananas.

The cup of Earl Grey tea I ordered arrives. It's served with a bag in a glass mug. Nothing so refined as a teapot can be found here. Once it has cooled down enough for me to taste it, I am perplexed yet again. It doesn't display the slightest hint of bergamot. Thinking that maybe they made a mistake and gave me the wrong tea, I ask for a replacement. This time my server brings me the box to show me. The tea is awful. Hmmm. I wonder how come, if Cafe 222 allegedly serves the best breakfast in San Diego, they can't even source an Earl Grey tea that tastes like Earl Grey should?

photograph picture of the orange and pecan pancakes. Filed under Cafe/Restaurant Review, San Diego, Cafe 222 Marina District
Normally an Eggs benedict kind of girl, on this occasion I am foolishly tempted by the sweet sound of the orange pecan pancakes instead. A stack of three arrive at the table. They are just ok. For me, one would have been enough, particularly as the overpowering flavour is cinnamon, a fact not cited on the menu and a spice I don't particularly care for. Although I can see they have use flecks of rind in the batter, I can't actually taste any orange flavour, unless that little quarter slice of fruit on the edge of the plate is supposed to be it. You would think that the best breakfast place in town might include real maple syrup as a matter of fact. But no. You have to pay extra if you want the real stuff.

photograph picture of the orange and pecan pancakes. Filed under Cafe/Restaurant Review, San Diego, Cafe 222 Marina District
Fred asks for some sparkling water but they don't have that either so he goes without a drink. His order of scrambled eggs with toast and griddle potatoes is perfectly competent. The potatoes are good and crispy. But after a 90 minute wait he had expected an experience that was perhaps a little more memorable.

Cafe 222's Pumpkin Waffles were featured in Gourmet magazine, a fact that appears to have intesified its popularity. Me? I am just not buying it. It is nothing more than an adequate little breakfast place that doesn't quite live up to its grand reputation.

PS. This review was a

All My San Diego Reviews:
  • Rice at the W Hotel
  • Cafe Bassam, Gas Lamp
  • Chive, Gas Lamp
  • Tartine, Coronado
  • Cafe 222, Marina District
  • Soleil @ the K
  • The Living Room & The Beach at the W

  • Other San Diego Food Bloggers:
    The local's guide to San Diego eats

    It is Utensibility Week here on Becks & Posh. All bloggers are invited to join me in creating a dream list of favourite kitchen utensils.

    tagged with and and and
    Cafe 222 - Marina District - San Diego - CA


    • At 28/6/05 07:15, Blogger Rachael Narins said…

      Sounds like Cafe 222 won based on portion size and outdoor seating more than anything else!

    • At 28/6/05 08:06, Anonymous Anonymous said…

      ...that's the sad thing really about the san diego dining scene; much of it is only HYPE. I am eagerly waiting for this city to truly turn around but wait is all I do......

    • At 28/6/05 15:47, Anonymous Anonymous said…

      What a bummer. That's really lame too, having fruit on display and saying it's 86'd.

      A great breakfast is all in the details.

    • At 28/6/05 17:34, Blogger cookiecrumb said…

      OK, first of all, I don't trust Gourmet magazine very much.
      Second of all, I'm an old cowhand from the San Diego Area -- went to UCSD, and my parents retired to Escondido. I have yet to hear of a really good upscale restaurant in the area.
      SO: Here's what you do -- scout out the Chino Ranch farm stand in Del Mar, bring home (or to your Motel 6) some fabulous strawberries and beans and corn and turnips and eggplant and whatever the bloomin' 'ell else... And enjoy. Of course, you're a much better cook than those hicks. Sorry. But true. So, ya gotta eat.
      Oh -- I apologize. You can probably find some neat Mexican food. Try Las Cuatro Milpas. And in fact, I actually enjoyed a dinner with my parents at the Rancho Santa Fe country club, Rancho Valencia. (Warning: Kinda Parenty!!)

    • At 28/6/05 18:55, Blogger Civic Center said…

      That was a very mean (without being bitchy) review, and I loved every word of it.

      cookiecrumb is right, by the way. You really should have gone Mexican in San Diego...the place has the best "fusion-without-being-pretentious" Mexican food in the world.

    • At 28/6/05 19:38, Blogger Sam said…

      Rachel - do you think people really actually like having such huge portions?

      Anon - I am sorry for you - but there must be something good? Have you tried Cookiecrumb's suggestions at all? Or why not move to San Francisco?

      Pragmatic - yes, lame indeed. It seems they spent more time on the detail of their chandeliers than they did on perfecting the food for their customers.

      If I was ever to visit San Diego again, (unlikely based on this first experience), I would heed the good words of Cookie Crumb and SFmike and look for Mexican food, even though it isn't my favourite toype of food, I always love it when I am in Mexico itself and SD is pretty close tot he border.

      Mike - mean, moi? I am only trying to spread the truth according to the gospel of Sam, happy to have such a distinguished believer in my flock.


    • At 28/6/05 22:03, Blogger eat stuff said…

      Hi Sam :)
      I know that this is really to do with the cafe... but it might help you get over with the huge yucky portions of food :P

      It has what looks like really nice recipe for a yeasted white bread with piccies :) So I hope you like.. I am going to attempt the sourdough


    • At 29/6/05 08:16, Anonymous Anonymous said…

      i agree w/cookie crumb of course, and do do exactly that prepare excellent food at home and eat mexi. out. there are hit and miss joints of course in sd, as you discovered but we r just not a food city YET

    • At 29/6/05 08:24, Blogger Sam said…

      Unfortunately - when you are away for a weekend treat, staying in a hotel without a kitchen, preparing your own food is just not an option. If there is a next time - I am on the Mexican idea - believe me. Thank you!

    • At 29/6/05 08:31, Blogger Sam said…

      Clare - thanks for the link - I checked out the pics and they are useful to compare and contrast, though, I tell you, I am not going pback to dried yeast!!!

    • At 29/6/05 08:37, Blogger eat stuff said…

      I hope it helps... but I am sure your bread is great.
      hopefully I wont use stoopid instant yeast either if my starter works... it started bubbling already... such good baby yeasties (oops did I just anthropomorphise yeast??? :) )

    • At 30/6/05 09:12, Anonymous Anonymous said…

      Sam - The funny thing is that Ms Garve - is also a "food critic" who never, ever, writes anything negative about any restaurant in San Diego! I don't think the dining scene is "hype", i think it's more "hope".....

    • At 30/6/05 20:49, Blogger Sam said…

      hmmm - that is interesting, Kirk. Thanks for the heads up! I know you live in SD, and enjoy writing about the food there, so I sincerely HOPE it gets better for all the San Deigons' sakes.

      Next time I go to SD, I am going to read your blog BEFORE I visit, instead of afterwards.

    • At 1/7/05 15:57, Blogger Sam said…

      Lyle - maybe you will like them. My gripe was that they overpoweringly tasted of cinnamon which wasn't stated on the menu.
      Oh - and of course - the tea really was bad. I didn't think the breakfast was worth a 90 minute wait. No way. It wasn't bad (aart from that tea) - just too hyped up in my opinion.

    • At 6/7/05 12:28, Anonymous Anonymous said…

      Sam - I don't know if my foodblog will be of much use to you! I think I'm a level or two below, in taste and sophistication!!! LOL

    • At 6/7/05 12:35, Blogger Sam said…

      Kirk - San Diego needs you!
      If only I had discovered you before my trip.
      I say keep up the good work.

    • At 31/7/06 18:28, Anonymous Anonymous said…

      I think cafe 222 food is great, simple, reminds you of a breakfast mom would make if she had three and a half hours every day, Anyone food critic on here who gripes about the tea and no sparkling water, and how much it ruined your "experience", get over yourself, you've probably never cooked breakfast yourself a day in your life! The LONG wait at cafe 222 isn't because the food is Spectacular; did you notice there's only about ten tables inside!!??? do the math! and boooo hoooo, who the hell would complain about too much food?, if they served you a microscopic portion of food, you'd bitch about that too! Give cafe 222 a try, it's GREAT!

    • At 31/7/06 18:43, Blogger Sam said…

      to the contrary Ben
      I do a lot of cooking, even making my own bread or english muffins for breakfast sometimes.

      I think waste and the American culture of overconsumption of food is ugly, so I am far more likely to complain about too much food. Give me one mouthful of an exquisite tasting something over 50 mouthfuls of bland, any day.

      I think if you wait an hour for your food, the least you can expect is honesty. Tea and water aside, telling me there was no fruit left when I was sat in front of a cabinet full of it, was completely bad form on Cafe 222's part. Wait an hour, ask for fruit, and then get lied to. Not a great way to satisfy a customer. That was the main source of my dissatisfaction.

      If you could walk straight in and get a table, fine, but waiting an hour for it, not worth my time. Glad it is worth yours.

    • At 11/8/06 21:14, Anonymous Anonymous said…

      First off, the last people on earth I'm gonna take food advice from are the english. Any non english diner who has visited England knows what I'm taking about.

      Does cafe 222 look like a place that serves high end earl grey out of a teapot. Nope. It's modeled after a diner silly.

      So you order pancakes, but you don't like cinnamon. What?! hHere's a little secret. 98% of restaraunts put cinnamon in there pancakes. Don't trust me though, I'm just a Sous Chef.

      I think the last thing I want at breakfast is large portions too. Oh, how vile. I usually get 1 silver dollar cake and a half wedge of orange.

      Now, the fruit 86 thing is bogus. but that's about all your review has in merit.

      I mean how would actually adhere to your reviews, too someone who iis an actual chef it sounds like you really don't know your arse form your elbow.

      Stick with the spice girls and the epl, and leave food review to people who know what the heck there talking about.

      Tally ho!

      Oh yeah big shout outs to Terryl, keep up the good work.

    • At 12/8/06 07:48, Blogger Sam said…

      Anon - You are a chef? What exactly does that mean? That you just graduated from culinary school? You obviously didn't get your education at a place where they teach proper English.

      This review was written a little more harshly than usual because the restaurant was being judged in relation to its status as the "Best Breakfast in San Diego" and all the hype it gets because of that.

      I don't think it lives up to that particular hype. Come to San Francisco and I can show you a dozen better breakfasts. It's just not classy for a place that has been awarded "Best of" to lie through its teeth to its customers and tell them there is no fruit left, when there so obviously is, especially when that customer has been waiting for over an hour for their table. They gave me no respect, I have little respect for them in return.

    • At 8/1/07 21:35, Anonymous Anonymous said…

      You forgot to mention the unnecessary attitude that is included with the overpriced small OJ. That this place is so popular is sad commentary on San Diego restaurant scene - I think the greedy real estate developers were also behind this one.

    • At 18/12/07 16:59, Anonymous Anonymous said…

      You all are pathetic for basing your experience at the cafe on just one visit. If you had a problem with the tea consult Tazo since it is their tea brand. Your b**ches were lame and who orders toast and eggs at a resturant known for their waffles??? Try finding another job, you obviously aren't good at reviews, I'm a cafe 222 regular and send all my friends there.

    • At 17/1/08 01:53, Anonymous Anonymous said…

      A year ago when I was a student at UCSD, I stumbled across Cafe 222 while walking aimlessly around downtown in the early morn. I never knew there was any hype about it until just this minute, when I read about it on your blog.

      I had a pumpkin waffle. I remember wondering why it didn't taste like pumpkin. It tasted just like a regular un-pumpkin waffle...well-made but not spectacular. It wouldn't have been so disappointing if it didn't have a $7 price tag, and you know that's a lot of money to a broke student.

      Like you, I've only been to Cafe 222 once, but that doesn't render our judgments moot. I don't see what these Cafe 222 loyalists are getting so worked up about.

    • At 25/8/08 00:18, Anonymous Anonymous said…

      This entry doesn't really bother me- of course Cafe 222 is mediocre; it's aimed towards the tourists and boring yuppies who hang out around the convention center. The comments do, though. If you have only been to one restaurant in San Diego once, you are not qualified to make a judgement about all restaurants in San Diego. cookiecrumb: going to UCSD and having parents in Escondido does not qualify you to make judgements about the quality of fine dining in San Diego either. North County is full of people who would spend 40 dollars a head just to be told they were at a fine dining restaurant, and it is NOT San Diego.

    • At 6/10/08 15:23, Anonymous Anonymous said…

      i disagree with all of you that don't like cafe 222!! if you don't like it simply go else were and stop complaining about it!! I think it's simply delicious and the service and prices are grate. oviesly they were winners of the best breakfast 4 years in a row for a resone

    • At 18/3/09 10:08, Anonymous Anonymous said…

      well is sad to hear such of hard comments since i'm a chef my self. i used to work at cafe222 a few years back i incorporated the Mexican scramble to the menu as well is the changes to the mexican gravy, tamales etc. even know Terryl hates mexican food and at the begining she refused to add anything mexican to her menu, just after she saw the results and people comments, i was there from 2003 to 2005 and yes i went to the awards so was the front of the house manager, Terryl and my self received the Gold Medallion (wich is won do the the money you donated to the assosiation not because of the food they can care less) i must said that some of the food is good like the orange pancakes, multigrain waffle and of course the pumpkin waffle, recepies are perfect but with so much over turn in the kitchen exept for Sarah (the black lady in there) is hard to keep the good food flowting. Food to me is a little over price. but ones again these place is focus in the tourist and the upper class according to Terryl Grave... R.R.


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