One food craving that remains constant for me has always been breakfast food. More specifically, brunch. It has never mattered how old I am, where I am living or what fad diet I'm entertaining, the lure of eggs, sausage and breakfast starches has mandated that on Sunday mornings, I must go out in search of the perfect brunch. A few years ago, I tried Emilio's and was quite pleased with what I found there. However, it had been a while since my last visit and I figured dinner, schminner. If you can't make a decent poached egg, you aren't worth culinary squat in my book. When I arrived at the Grove Hotel, the understated poshness reminded me of old-school service—the kind popular in my mom's day. Every staff member of the hotel smiled courteously and greeted me. I made my way across the expansive lobby to the restaurant feeling like royalty.
The dining room is bright and open, decorated tastefully in soft, neutral colors. Everything looked perfect in Emilio's, from the fresh flowers on every table, to the crisp, clean linens and shining silverware. A plate of tiny jelly jars sat prettily next to a basket of pastries.
Our server was very prompt and pleasant, professional and courteous. Waters and coffees were diligently filled, always accompanied with a smile. We felt quite pampered.
The trio of us dug into the pastries enthusiastically, but then our nibbling slowed. We studied them, wondering why they weren't more delectable.
"They remind me of the pastries you get at the breakfast bar at a Holiday Inn Express," one friend suggested.
"Yeah, they're not much better than you'd get at Albertsons," said another.
"I think I've had better pastries from Albertsons," I chimed in.
We abandoned the rest of the pastries and investigated the menus, struggling over our many options. It would be gluttonous of us to order two entrees each. With a sigh, we all settled on our standard favorite, but each chose different versions of the same thing: eggs Benedict.
Friend One ordered Emilio's grand eggs Benedict ($14). Friend Two ordered from the weekly breakfast menu instead of the Sunday brunch menu. Her curiosity had been piqued by the Northwest eggs Benedict ($12), which boasted house-cured Pacific salmon and a special lemon caper dill Hollandaise sauce. I chose the filet and poached eggs Oscar ($18), with a filet of beef tenderloin, poached eggs, shaved asparagus, Dungeness crab meat and tarragon-scented Hollandaise. OK, not exactly eggs Benedict, but close. We all ordered Swedish potatoes as our side offering, which was listed as hash-browned potatoes with sour cream, chives and poppy seeds topped with cheddar.
Our food took a while to come. When we got our plates, I noticed sadly that my filet was overcooked. I had ordered it medium rare, and what came out on the plate was a tiny filet with a sad, hardened outer layer that made it resemble jerky. I cut into it, and was dismayed to find that the outer layer was inedible and the inside was cooked to medium.
Friend One was pleased with her dish, but pointed out that there really wasn't anything "grand" about it. Friend Two was very pleased with her dish, saying that it was "Excellent—everything I wanted." I was more than a bit disappointed with my dish. The poached eggs were perfect, and the Hollandaise was delicious but the dried-out filet was depressing, as was the meager amount of crab meat.
We decided that our brunch experience hovered between a B-minus and a C-plus. We agreed that the food was mostly mediocre with a few pleasant surprises, but that the atmosphere and service were both wonderful. Will we return for another brunch? Probably not.
—Rachel Abrahamson believes breakfast is the most important meal of the day.