What a Dish Cafe
24921 Dana Point Harbor Drive
Dana Point, CA 92629
We've all seen it before. You have two restaurants in the same shopping center, one has a 30 to 40 minute wait, and the other has open seating and you can walk right in. What do you assume about the spot that you can just waltz into? You probably think that the food or service is lousy. I have to admit that was the feeling I had before we first got to What A Dish Cafe in Dana Point.
We had been to this shopping complex at the corner of Golden Lantern and Dana Point Harbor Drive a couple of times, and had never noticed this restaurant. We had been here to eat at one of our favorites, Jimmy's Famous Tavern. We had also been here for breakfast one time, at the much ballyhooed RJ's Cafe. This is the restaurant that had a forty minute wait on this particular Sunday morning, or almost every weekend morning. We were surprised to be sat right away on the patio at What A Dish, which offered a great birds-eye view of everyone waiting for their table at RJ's.
Putting my mind at ease a bit was the research I had done before coming here. What A Dish had a great write up in the OC Weekly for their Benedict's and Bloody Mary's. They also have a 4 and a half star rating on Yelp, with over 250 reviews. RJ's, with the 40 minute wait has a four star rating with over 300 reviews. The plot thickens.
What A Dish is owned by the Richey family, and they wanted to create a gathering spot which serves local, organic, and sustainable food. Kind of the buzz words of the moment when it comes to restaurants these days. This local family has a thriving catering business, and they also do a lot for the community by participating in projects and fundraisers. They are open for dinner part of the week, and that menu looks real promising.
For now we are focused on brunch, and getting the nourishment we need for a good brisk walk around Dana Point Harbor. The brunch menu here has enough variety to satisfy most people, with some omelettes, Benedict's, and and other breakfast-centric dishes on it. They even have a section of their menu devoted to canines, so yes, this is a dog friendly restaurant. No dog biscuits for me on this morning, I was way more focused on the food that we saw heading out to other tables, so we quickly ordered, and waited for our food to arrive. This is how it all came out for us.
I've been craving a good Cinnamon Roll ($3.50) lately, and this one filled the bill nicely. I'd describe this cinnamon roll as very sturdy. It had lots of cinnamon running through the insides, and plenty of icing covering this. I was afraid it was going to be over the top sweet, but the sweetness was understated. I would have liked this to have been a little lighter, but still a good way to start out your meal here.
The entrees at What A Dish came out quicker than expected, and were lead by Katie's selection, the D.P. Sunrise Sandwich ($13). I know the D.P. stands for Dana Point, but it could also stand for a, "damn pleasurable," sandwich. Katie really enjoyed this croissant sandwich which also included eggs, bell pepper, cheese, and your choice of breakfast meat, Katie went with bacon. This also came with one of the best chipotle aioli's we have had recently. I even stole some for my meal, and it brought it up to the next level. This was served with some colorful Weiser Family Farms pee wee potatoes, which were good, but plain, and only made better when dipped in the chipotle aioli. Still a great meal to start the day for Katie.
Before showing up, I already knew I'd be having this East Coast Benedict ($15), and I was not disappointed. These start with a base of Thomas's English muffins, and then are topped with a Maine lump crab cake, asparagus, sun dried tomato, hollandaise sauce, and a perfectly poached egg. The crab cakes were delicious here, and stayed in the forefront, even with all the other big time flavors going on here. The hollandaise sauce was legit, but they could have used a heavier hand when pouring it on the plate, and the sun dried tomato was an unexpectedly nice touch. My lone complaint about this dish was that it was hard to get everything involved here in the same bite, but still a great version of this classic dish.
As we left What A Dish, I was still perplexed as to why there was still a wait to get a table at RJ's, and you could just walk in here. It finally dawned on me that even though these are two breakfast joints, their food and price point are much different. RJ's caters mainly to families, and people that want a more traditional breakfast, while What A Dish is for people that want a breakfast that's a step up above the norm. I will be veering towards What A Dish the next time we want to have the first meal of the day in Dana Point. Their food was great, the service was first rate, and they kept things moving at more than a leisurely pace. Everything that we look for in breakfast spot, and the bonus is you don't have to wait for forty minutes to be seated.
Out of five blackberries, (because that's the official fruit of the state of Alabama, and the headliners for the upcoming Dana Point's very own Doheny Blues Festival is Lynard Skynrd, and their biggest hit is Sweet Home Alabama), five being best to zero being worst, What A Dish Cafe gets 3.5 blackberries.
For more information about What A Dish Cafe, head over to their website here: http://www.whatadishoc.com/#cafe