I try to avoid having breakfast alone as often as possible. Not only does it determine the kind of day I’ll have, but reminds of the lonely night that preceded it. When my usual dining companion, The Contessa, awoke in Napa too hungover to join me (the traitor), I had only my work for consolation. Fortunately, on this particular weekend morning, my work entailed tasting the numerous brunch offerings at the quaint Plaza Bistro.
I began with a bit of the hair of the dog. Owner Martine has observed two trends amongst his A.M. imbibers: on Saturdays they drink Bloody Marys and on Sundays they drink mimosas. Somehow, the latter drink seems more pious – a consideration when dining in the shadow of the historic Sonoma Mission. I went with the mimosa, which was snappy and whet my palate well.
Caesar, a classy gent and natty dresser, whose culinary philosophy includes the maxim, “leave satisfied, not full,” toured me through the brunch menu. Ironically, without the aid of the Contessa, I would ultimately devour three entrees myself. I am, after all, a professional.
Following Caesar’s lead, I began with the crepe. The menu offers three all of which are of the “savory variety” (wild mushrooms, ham and cheddar, to asparagus and smoked salmon with saffron crème among them). I was recommended the spinach, tomato and melted brie crepe and was happy to find the dish a rousing start, both light and fresh, and beautifully presented.
My appetite and ambition stoked, I proceeded to the eggs Benedict. In the 111 years since chef Oscar Tschirky was inspired to top toasted halves of an English muffin with ham, poached eggs, and hollandaise sauce for New York City’s Waldorf Astoria, much harm has been done to the creation. As you can presume I’ve had a wide range of bennies (as we say in the trade) and have noted that, when inexpertly deployed, they can tend toward under- or over-poached eggs swimming for dear life in a tsunami of hollandaise sauce. Mercifully, this was not the case at La Salette, whose eggs Benedict arrived with firm eggs and a just enough hollandaise to contribute to the other flavors on the plate but not overpower them (the English muffin did prove difficult to slice at one point, but that most likely reflects my inability to proper wield a knife). The dish comes with diced potatoes mixed with whispers of tomato and parsley. Note that Caesar will bring you ketchup for those potatoes only if you ask. As he explained, the sweet notes of the condiment will obscure the nuance of the side. So don’t ask. My relationship with ketchup has only ever been a mild flirtation not a romance so I completely agreed with Caesar’s approach.
Moreover, if you need sweet on your plate, order the French toast. It’s a work of culinary art. The cinnamon-hued battered bread comes strewn with white raisins and green apple slices and is sweet, sweet, sweet. Caesar says that some patrons will order a single serving for their table to share as a sort of “after breakfast dessert.” Indeed, it was the perfect end to wonderful way to begin one’s day.
I left, as Caesar would prefer, “satisfied.”