Brunch Drunk Love: A Reluctant Reintroduction to Groupon Dining

I’ve stopped buying Groupons because the featured deals have become, to be blunt, crappy. I have zero need for organic cloth diapers, pet Lasik, or salsa lessons in Burlingame; I am interested in getting a massage and having my teeth whitened, but not at any of the Groupon-endorsed spas. Daily deal emails have become the scourge of my inbox; my morbid curiosity is all that has prevented me from unsubscribing from every last site.

Last week, I broke my self-imposed daily deals ban and got a Groupon for Brunch Drunk Love (2389 Mission). In the moments before I clicked Purchase, I hesitated, wondering if I was making an airhead move; I clicked Purchase, anyway. Ostensibly, the deal seemed pretty sweet: $30 for a family-style brunch at a restaurant a few blocks from my house. Before buying, I checked out BDL’s menu, which looked totally legit. I’ve had very few awful dining experiences in the city, and I reasoned that this brunch (at the very worst) would be mediocre. As it happened, this prediction was a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Per Groupon’s instructions, I made a reservation several days in advance of our brunch. Friday morning, the BDL hostess called to confirm this reservation. I mention this because, upon our arrival, Alex and I had to wait (and wait, and wait). We loitered for half an hour at the bar before we were seated. Overbooking happens frequently enough, but the hostess’ indifference — dare I say total disregard? — negatively impacted our impression. We might have been placated had we been offered a free drink or appetizer, but none such gesture was made. Nope, we were left to buy our own $9 Bloody Marys, which were pre-mixed (eeew) and tasted so strongly of liquid smoke(?) as to be nearly undrinkable.*

Once we were seated, we spent an additional half an hour waiting to have our order taken. This isn’t an exaggeration: Alex timed our wait. In fact, he had to flag a waiter and ask the dude to take our order. This waiter wasn’t sympathetic; he didn’t seem to find anything amiss with what went down. Once we’d ordered, our food came out rather quickly, albeit in a mega jumble. I’m not sure what kind of communication was going on between FOH/BOH workers, but we got our main dishes before our appetizers. We asked twice for our dessert.

The food ranked slightly higher than the service. Our Groupon scored us two appetizers, two main dishes (one griddle item and one selection from either legs + eggs + fins OR between the bun), a dessert, and two coffees. (You can see why I was drawn to this deal, yes?) We ordered:

  • Grilled biscuits with leek + thyme gravy & 4505 Meats maple sausage;
  • Frisée salad, with pancetta, croutons, poached egg, and whole grain mustard dressing;
  • Custard-battered french toast with stewed blackberries, ricotta, basil, and black pepper berry syrup;
  • Fried green tomato sammie: cornbread-battered fried green tomatoes w/ pimento cheese, fried egg, iceberg, housemade English muffin; and
  • Milk & cookies: selection of 3 cookies + milk

Alex and I agreed that the fried green tomato sandwich was the best overall dish; the cornbread batter was sweet and crispy to the max! The muffin had a texture unlike that of any English muffin I’ve ever tasted — it was as dense as soda bread, but not crumbly. I enjoyed the French toast — or, rather, the black pepper berry syrup, which, with the bright wisps of basil, cut the richness of the ricotta.

To my surprise, I was not so impressed with the biscuits and gravy. The biscuits themselves were solid — flaky and buttery, with artfully applied grill marks  — but the gravy was so thyme-heavy that it smothered all other flavors. One bite was like a Thanksgiving explosion. The cookies were forgettable; I had half of one, the flavor of which I couldn’t rightly discern. Whatever its type, it wasn’t striking enough to encourage my consumption of the other half.

I don’t believe in the wanton panning of restaurants; as much as I like to kvetch IRL, I acknowledge that rhetorically trashing a place is a cop-out, or can be. In the case of Brunch Drunk Love, my gripes are fully founded. We were on site a full hour before receiving food, and when the food came, it was so-so. The space was OK, but not great. The hostess was flat-out rude — so rude, in fact, that I’m still tempted to call the manager and relate our experience.

(Alex, making the best of this untenable brunch.)

San Francisco has too many great brunch places to allow for the existence of really shitty ones. Alex gives Brunch Drunk Love eight months, tops. I give it six. Maybe we can split the difference, agree on a seven-month predicted lifespan, and enjoy a well-made Bloody Mary at one of our established haunts.

***

*Fact: Alex only drank half of his. I nearly finished mine, mostly because I was miffed about having spent $9 on the Worst Bloody Mary of My Life. Even V8 and Popov with a few shakes of Tabasco would have been better, srsly.

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