There’s nothing better than a weekend getaway complete with really good food. However, you don’t even need to actually “get away” to drive to Encinitas for weekend brunch. From the center of Orange County, it should only take about an hour before you’ll be in this quaint little town dotted with thrift stores and coffee houses.
The restaurant is a little hard to see sitting almost right on the train tracks between Coast Hwy and Vulcan along E Street. I circled around several times before finding a spot on the street two blocks away. Once inside, you’ll be sitting on the deck of Chef Matt Gordon’s Solace and the Moonlight enjoying a leisurely meal while basking in the sun.
We started our Sunday brunch (it is also offered on Saturdays) with some Warm Cheddar & Chive Biscuits ($7), made in-house and served with a fragrant orange honey butter, and a piquant smoked tomato jam.
I am so happy to see non-traditional brunch items featured as well. Fried Green Tomatoes ($11) are perfectly crispy on the outside with a lovely corn meal crust. The slices sit on top of a thick-chop chimichurri topped with salsa fresca and drizzled with a creamy ancho chile aioli. We enjoy it tremendously and agree it is a great plate for the table to share.
I will most often than not order mussels when I see them. The menu’s Steamed Black Mussels ($14) comes in a smoked tomato butter, however, it is rather deceiving because even though there might be butter in the sauce, it is not a butter. In fact, it is a luscious smoked tomato soup which we eat with a spoon, after we’ve finished off the plump meaty mussels. Not to waste any of it, we then soaked up the remainder with the toasted baguette slices from one of San Diego’s premier bakeries, Bread & Cie.
There were two soups available: Clam Chowder ($4 cup/$5.50 bowl) with bacon, clams, potatoes and topped with a crispy house-made oyster cracker garnish is decent, however, it was the Creamy Tomato-Fennel Soup ($3.50 cup/$5 bowl) which won me over. The Aleppo pepper crema drizzled on top adds a slight kick to the beautifully tart soup.
What I love about Solace and the Moonlight is that there is something for everyone. If you’re wanting a hefty meal, or trying to nurse that hangover with something incredibly substantial, then their signature Kitchen Sink ($14.50) is definitely your choice. The sausage gravy is infused with smoked paprika, cayenne, ancho chile and chipotle, giving it layers of flavor, without adding too much heat. There is only a hint from the cayenne at the end which is good news for those who aren’t fans. If you don’t order the cheddar biscuits, then you’ll enjoy it on this plate along with runny fried eggs, Niman Ranch pork sausage and brown sugar slab bacon.
Pescatarians can choose Wild Sockeye Salmon Benny ($16) served on cheddar biscuits with poached Eben-Haezer eggs, sauteed spinach, ancho chile Hollandaise and breakfast potatoes. I loved everything about this dish except the skin left on the salmon. It is not seared, therefore, does not impart a crispy element to the dish, and adds fishiness to the final product.
Your server will tell you to order the Best Darn Buttermilk Cinnamon Roll ($3.75) because they run out, usually by noon. The cream cheese icing is ample and the Butter Pecan Sauce ($1) sweet. I suggest asking to have it on the side.
But it is the Lemon Ricotta Pancakes ($10.50) which blows this non-sweet palate away. Fluffy, light pancakes are hinted with lemon and moreso enhanced by the strips of candied lemon zest tossed on top. Fresh raspberries are always the best pairing for lemon and there are a few thrown in for good measure. I did not even need the maple syrup to enjoy these absolutely delightful pancakes.
Regardless how big or large your group is, there is something for everyone, including various areas to sit in. We loved the “spool” table on the patio and I would like to sit on the large community table on a future visit with a group of friends. Service is great and the atmosphere inviting. Now, I’ll have to come back and try the dinner menu!
Solace and the Moonlight
25 E East Street
Encinitas, CA 92024