Being the lame cheapo person that I am, it’s pretty rare that I find a breakfast that, (a) I am willing to pay for, and (b) offers something new and interesting and lovely.
Once when Mary was visiting and we were trying to find some new food to eat, we Googled for food blog posts about French toast, the object of Mary’s craving at the time. The most interesting prospect was the Starling Diner in Long Beach, whose Broiled San Francisco Stuffed Toast ($8-9) is described on the menu as, “French toast stuffed with creamy Mascarpone and Crème Fraiche . . . We broil instead of frying it-which gives the flavor a deeper dimension. You have your choice of custom tailored toppings: Fresh Seasonal Berries and Whipped Cream [or] Caramelized Apples in Brandy Butter.” Yes, please.
The stuffed toast is as delicious as it sounds. In that first visit, I ordered a scramble with polenta potatoes on the side (scrambles range from $7-10). They are basically what they sound like — potatoes, skin on, mashed up with polenta. At that point, I didn’t feel strongly either way about polenta, but I found the potatoes to be surprisingly delicious, and the polenta definitely gave them a good texture.
I’ve had subsequent visits, and everything else I’ve tried is delicious. Breakfast polenta ($7) — mixed with cream and topped with whipped cream and fresh seasonal berries (I had blackberries, strawberries, and blueberries) — is so delicious and perfect on a warm day. It’s also far more filling than it looks. I’ve also sampled (i.e., stole from Lori) the Eggs Benjamin ($13) with poached eggs and smoked salmon, which is perfect if you want something a little heavier or not so sweet.
There are other lovely touches. They serve cucumber-infused water when you sit down, in some sort of environmentally conscious corn-based cup. They have freshly squeezed orange juice, that comes out of a machine so interesting that you almost order juice to watch it.
Basically, you need to go there, stat.
The Starling Diner
4114 East Third Street
Long Beach, CA 90814