Tuesday, April 12, 2016

"Great Maple" of San Diego: Score or Bore?

Today I was gifted a wonderful visit by my life long friend (and the Godmother to my son). As a belated birthday present, she so graciously took my son and I out for brunch. Now, as you may have noticed my blog has quite the variety when it comes to topic, but I will have you all know that I am an absolute foodie. Not a snob. Just a foodie. I do have certain critiques about the places I've been regarding certain items or the service itself, but that doesn't deter me from trying new foods/restaurants. As it shouldn't anyone really. 

Whenever my friend and I go out to eat, we tend to either go somewhere one of us admires and the other hasn't been to, or we try something new altogether. There have been times when we would repeat a restaurant for our brunch dates, but sometimes you just want what you want. 

Prior to our hangout, I had researched a few places and wrote down some pliable options. We were in the mood for a sweet and hearty type of meal, more in the "breakfast" department. Originally the three of us had decided on a new restaurant any of us had been to, but ended up driving 3 minutes from where I live to a place called "Great Maple". This particular restaurant is on the "higher" part of the "brunch restaurant totem pole" in San Diego and I can't honestly say why I've never taken my son. I mean it's literally walking distance. I will say that parking can be a little frustrating, as the parking lot is small in size, but there is street parking if you're patient enough to search and willing to walk a little. We got a spot one block away within a few seconds of arriving. My friend had been there before and recommended it as our delicious eatery of the day. I can't thank her enough! Not only was she so generously buying us food, but absolutely decadent food at that. 

We walked into the restaurant and were immediately greeted by an absolutely sweetheart of a hostess. Within 3 minutes of "waiting", we were promptly seated at a booth. Granted this place was packed with people who chattered loudly to be heard over one another, but to be quite frank with you all, once you're sitting down (at least on the outskirts by the window, which is where we were) it's not so bad. The waiter was a tall gem as well. Kind, polite, and very good at high job. High five to Great Maple for amazing service all around! (Even the bus boys and gentleman who brought our food were delightful.) We ordered our drinks - like usual - and my friend immediately ordered us Maple Bacon Donuts. Apparently they're known for it. 

After glancing at our menus, my son chose grilled chicken with steamed broccoli, which was on the kids menu. I chose the Cerrillos Chilaquiles, which consisted of corn tortillas, gourmet chorizo, hatch chile verde salsa, queso fresco, scrambled eggs, roasted red peppers, avocado, onions, and cilantro sour cream. My friend chose the Portabello Mushroom Fries, which was dusted with Parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes with Pesto Aioli, and a side of over easy eggs, potatoes, and toast. While we were waiting for our dishes to be created, they friendly staff brought our "appetizers", leaving us to devour the three Maple Bacon Donuts. At first glance you notice that they not only look fresh, but are covered in a maple some what resembling the glaze of normal maple donuts...just melted and creamy. You should know that I am not a huge maple person, but when I took the first bite of this donut, holy crap. The breading: warm and soft. The maple: creamy, rich, gooey, and sweet. The bacon: crunchy, hearty, flavorful. The combination of the three: heaven on a plate covered with unicorn sprinkles, sunshine rays, and childhood Saturday mornings. I felt as if I was waking up to the sweet tender smell of freshly grilled bacon, while hearing my favorite cartoons play, and be surrounded by the decor of Christmas soon to come. I'm not even joking people, this is some SERIOUS donut! Not only was it gone in less than 2 minutes, but one was the size of 3 regular donuts. I could've just had two plates of those, to myself, and would've have been completely content on my "happy food scale" for the week. These donuts will make you realize all the "comfort food" you THOUGHT you knew, were phonies. Those Maple Bacon Donuts are the real deal! Just writing this blog makes me crave them. Perhaps I will have to pay a visit to them in the morning. Hmmm......

Although I was extremely satisfied with the donuts and contemplated ordering more seperately (to take home of course), I knew I had another round of food. I just remember thinking, "Man if the donuts are THIS good, I can't WAIT to have to food!" I could not have been more accurate. 

Once the main course arrived, my eyes grew to the size of saucers at the appearance of what looked like it's own slice of heaven as well. The portions would more than suffice two people, but this Momma was so willing to take leftovers home for round two. Spoiler alert, I did. The smell was absolutely intoxicating, and while the taste is NOT similar to the authentic chilaquiles, it is absolutely exquisite. The freshness was easily tasted, along with the excellent pairing in the flavor departments. I can't even begin to describe the mouth watering experience I had bite after bite. The cilantro sour cream was to die for and the chorizo was cooked to perfection along with everything else. The corn tortillas were cooked more in a "chip" fashion, but you could taste the difference. The hatch chile verde salsa came through loud and clear, but didn't exactly over power any other item in the dish itself. Instead, the salsa enhanced all the other flavors, creating one giant bowl of awesome. While the dish does come with Sriracha (I didn't have to pull out my travel Sriracha for once. Thank you Great Maple.), I didn't need it as this dish was decadent beyond explanation. To try and compare the Great Maple's version of chilaquiles and original chilaquiles, would be an insult to both. They may share the same name, but they are amazing in extremely different ways. I would have a plate of both side by side and love each one the same amount. Mind you, I'm very picky with Mexican food. I am half, so there's a certain...flavor quality I look for when it comes to considering it "authentic". My friends dish is said to be just as flavorful. Unfortunately I couldn't try it, as I am allergic to mushrooms, but I was in my own happy food world. So I didn't mind. My son also enjoyed his chicken and had enough left over to add to some leftover Mac 'N' Cheese we had. Excellent lunch number two for him.

Overall the experience was perfection. We never waited too long, for a seat nor the food. The service was as happy and amazing as you'd hope from any place you visit. Actually, the service was even better than that. I'm sorry, I must give credit where credit is due and I truly believe the hype of Great Maple is downplayed. They truly are delicious and I will be making a trip back soon! To be completely honest, probably tomorrow morning. 

Warning: If you decide to try the Great Maple, please be aware the the Maple Bacon Donuts will destroy any other donut favorites for you. You will no longer see the average bakeries as worth your time or dollar. You will be completely spoiled by the round circles of happiness. You will also have an increased desire in bacon and how you'd like it to taste. Store bought bacon may not suite you unless you buy a maple bacon. Trader Joe's does have great bacon. Great Maple has better bacon. 

What are some of your favorite brunch spots in your town? Let me know in the comments below!

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