Friday, January 8, 2016

Getting Down to the Nitty-Gritty of a Great Brunch

133 West Chapman Ave. #102
Fullerton, CA 92832

I don't think it's any big revelation that brunch is one of the best meals of the day. For one thing, brunch is almost always held on one of the days where you do not have to work. No one really has brunch on a Tuesday, which is my dream once I retire. Another great thing about brunch is the post brunch nap that usually goes with it. Even growing up, when we would head home from El Torito's brunch, I knew my parents, and probably myself would be taking a nap. It was part of the ritual. Even with my natural optimism about heading out to brunch, I was a little more excited about this brunch, because we were headed to Grits in Fullerton.

Why so excited about Grits? A number of reasons. I had read some great things online about this place. They are mentioned every other week or so in OC Weekly, and I've heard such great things about their Owner/Chef, Cody Storts for years now. Chef Cody has been at Hopscotch, Bourbon Street, The Lime Truck, and Nieuport 17. It's no surprise that his first ownership gig would be in Fullerton, since he is a long time resident of this great city. Not relying on exotic ingredients, the restaurant website promises, "the food at Grits is slap yo momma good, and delivers unique, original, and flavorful comfort food." Needless to say, I am in for that.

Located just a block off the craziness that is Downtown Fullerton, Grits is in the perfect spot for brunch. Sandwiched between a Chronic Tacos and a Philly's Best, in a space that used to be a Mediterranean restaurant called Califire Grill, the space had a very welcoming feel to it. Lots of exposed woods, a vibrant patio, and an open kitchen that even had some counter seating available, so you could enjoy watching Chef Cody and his Culinary Militia work their magic.

We were going to be having brunch with my parents on this particular Sunday morning, and as we were driving up here, I was a little nervous that they would find the food a little too out there for their tastes, then I remembered that they have a section of their menu labeled, "Boring'" and that helped ease my anxiousness. Also helping to ease my anxiousness, the fact that I planned ahead, and made reservations. With these, we got right in with no waiting, and avoided the 45 minute wait that was quoted to other patrons. Let's not wait to see the food here at Grits, and dive right into what we had.

I really wanted to start things off with the pork belly plate off of their grazing portion of the menu, but I knew I'd probably be the only one to eat it, so I opted for the Crispy Chicken Skins ($7) to start off with. These skins were drizzled with maple, cayenne, and paprika salt, and were lighter than I imagined they would be. Kind of like a pork rind, these dissolved when ingested, and you were left with the sweetness of the maple. Tasty, but I'd definitely get the pork belly next time, even if I'm the only one eating it.

Not content with just one starter, we also tried the Skillet Cornbread ($4). This was served alongside a very well done maple and brown sugar butter that paired nicely with the salty bits of bacon that were baked inside of the cornbread. The cornbread itself was good, but not as moist as I usually like. I was happy that it was not as crumbly as others I have had recently.

Entrees made their way out next for us, and we might as well start with Katie's good looking selection, the Breakfast Torta ($12). This torta contained plenty of pulled pork, an avocado sauce, egg on top, and some crumbled cheese. Katie loved this sandwich. She enjoyed the way that it combined all the flavors. She wasn't expecting this sandwich to be as messy as it was, but she didn't mind using her knife and fork to eat this. A very well done twist on a Mexican favorite.

I have to admit, I was pretty surprised/impressed when my mom did not order something off the boring section of the menu. She instead took this Grilled Cheese ($10) as her first meal of the day. This is unlike any grilled cheese she has ever had. It was made up of a very sturdy sourdough bread, two cheeses, cheddar and port salut, bacon, jalapeno grits, and jam. It was then placed in what we felt was the same maple, paprika and cayenne sauce that came with the chicken skins. A very rich grilled cheese, which she only managed to eat half of here, so my dad took it for lunch the next day. She was very satisfied with this, and would definitely get it again.

I let my dad pick his entree first, and this probably would have been my first choice as well, the Carnitas Chiliquilles ($15). My dad really enjoyed this dish, and made quick work of it. There was plenty of pork here, the tortilla strips were nice and firm, and the green sauce did not over power the rest of the plate. The egg was done well, and he felt he made a great choice on this particular morning. I'd probably try this on my next visit to Grits.

Not that I was complaining about my choice, the Pork Cheek Benedict ($15). This unusual benedict started off on a bed of jalapeno grits, and then was topped with two poached eggs, pork cheeks, and was finished off with two slices of toasted bread. I really enjoyed this balanced plate. The sauce was good, but not too thick, the bread was a great substitute for the humdrum English muffins, and the pork was cooked nicely. I wish there was more of it though, but that's my only complaint about this brunch item.

Katie could not resist trying some grits while we were here, so she got a side of Bacon Blue Grits ($4). To be honest I thought these were something else when we ordered them. I thought it was blue cheese for some reason, but these are grits made with blue corn, so when I first took a bite of these, I was kind of let down. They were topped with brown sugar butter and honey pebbles. I did not really get a big bacon feel out of these, but they were cooked correctly, and maybe because I was expecting more, I was not as satisfied with these as I might have been.

Another thing I love about brunch is that savory and sweet is not only an option, it's usually encouraged. We finished things off with this Milk and Cookies ($7). The milk was pretty standard, but these cookies were great. Chocolate chip with sea salt and get this, sauteed onions. Couldn't really pick up any flavor from the onions, but these had a real homemade taste, with a good outer crunch to them, and softer center. A must try when coming to Grits.

I have to admit, Grits really lived up to what I had imagined them to be. What everyone has been saying about them online is true, including what they proclaim on their own website, "they are giving Fullerton brunch a much needed kick in the ass." Even my parents, who are pretty conservative when it comes to food, loved this brunch spot. Now be warned about one thing though. The menu items that you see here might not be available when you get to Grits. They are very clear about their rotating of items. I checked their menu on their website, and they now offer a lengua chiliquilles instead of carnitas, and it does not appear that the torta is offered either. We experienced some really good service on this morning from our server Mariah, and everyone we encountered during our stay. Some may also scoff at the prices here, but for an original brunch such as this, made with fresh ingredients, I'm willing to splurge every once in awhile. It's brunches like these, that make brunch great. That, and of course the naps afterwards.

Out of five yellow roses, (because Flo from the TV show Alice used to say, "kiss my grits," and her home state was Texas), five being best to zero being worst, Grits gets 4 yellow roses.

For more information about Grits, head to their website here:

Grits Fullerton Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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