Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Hoping for a Sweet Time at the Sugar Shack

Rose's Sugar Shack Cafe
2319 S. El Camino Real
San Clemente, CA 92672

I love lists. If I see top Mexican restaurants in Laguna Beach or 5 great German restaurants in OC list, I almost always click to read more. I love the neat and orderly fashion of listicles. I have gotten some really good tips about restaurants from lists on the internet. It's what brought us to Rose's Sugar Shack in San Clemente on this past Labor Day.

It is very rare that Katie and I have a day off together anymore, thanks to a change in my work schedule. I knew we would start our day with our favorite walk, which is the San Clemente Bech Trail. We love the views, the passing trains, and the big selling point for Katie is that it is a relatively flat and easy stroll. I had just read a great article in the OC Weekly where they listed a bunch of old-time restaurants that serve great breakfasts. You can check out that article here.

One of the 11 restaurants highlighted in the article was Rose's Sugar Shack in San Clemente. Even with all of our frequent trips to this wonderful seaside town, we hardly ever make it to this side of El Camino Real, so I had never heard anything about Rose's. I'm not sure how long the Sugar Shack has been here, but I do know that the current owners, the Evingham family took over in 1987, and added Rose's name to the restaurant. In those 30 years, they have made some minor changes, like adding an outside deck and other small renovations to the old structure.

We got here at just after 10am and had about a five-minute wait for a table. Make sure you sign in at the door to reserve your spot. We were lead to our table, right near the front door of the restaurant. The place is very homey, just the kind of place that makes you feel comfortable with its great character. The menu is filled with just what you would expect from a restaurant that is breakfast focused but also serves lunch. There are a couple of sandwiches and burgers, but way more in the way of egg dishes, breakfast combos, specials, and even a section of their menu dedicated to vegetarians. Of course, I was not going to bother with that area of the menu, but let's see what we did end up with here at Rose's.

In most of the online reviews that I have read about this place, they always mention the Cinnamon Roll ($3.95) at Rose's. They make only 75 of them a day, and they are often sold out by 10. I was lucky that I got one as we were eating right around the usual deadline time. To be honest, this was more like a donut store cinnamon roll, than what I was expecting. Yes, there was plenty in the way of sugary sweet frosting covering this and the plate, but the insides of the spiral only had a little cinnamon inside and the roll was a little on the hard side. The inside guts were a little better, but not enough to warrant all of the heaps of praise the cinnamon rolls get here. 

I guess I should not have discounted the vegetarian section of the menu earlier, as Katie selected this Veggie Mixer ($10.95) for her first meal of the day. This scramble comes with three eggs, spinach, onions, tomatoes, and melted cheddar cheese on top of it. Katie thought this was a pretty basic breakfast, but suitable. She said it needed a bit more pop, but she would get it again if she was in the mood for a lighter breakfast. She did enjoy the hash browns here at Rose's, along with the rye toast which also came with her meal.

When eating at a breakfast spot for the first time, I usually just look for the thing that has the most breakfast items included in it. At Rose's Sugar Shack that item would be this Benny the Bum Omlete ($18.95). This came with a whole cavalcade of breakfast foods in this three egg omelet. Bacon, sausage, onion, avocado, Ortega chilies, Spanish sauce, and cheese are included here and is then finished off with a dollop of sour cream. Our server informed me that they were out of avocado, but she said they never put too much in it anyway, so I should still get it. Not exactly something you want to hear when you are paying close to $20 for an omelet. This was a fair omelet but did not knock my socks off. The breakfast meats kind of got lost here, but I did like the size of this and had enough to take home for dinner. This came with hash browns that needed to be seasoned a bit more and cooked a little crisper. They were kind of limp. 
We left Rose's Sugar Shack a bit underwhelmed with our breakfast on this particular morning. Yes, the portion sizes are very big, but so were the prices. The breakfast entrees that we had here just lacked the pizzazz that I was expecting. Service was warm and friendly when our server was around, which was not all too often. I did not get my cinnamon roll until I reminded her that I had ordered it. I feel like this is the kind of spot that you have to have extra patience to eat at because they go at what I'd call a beach-casual pace. Even though Rose's did not shine for us on this morning, I still look forward to trying more of the restaurants off of that OC Weekly list.

Out of five bottles of maple syrup, (because sugar shacks are often places where sap is collected and boiled into maple syrup), five being best to zero being worst, Rose's Sugar Shack gets 2.5 bottles of maple syrup.

Rose's Sugar Shack does not have a website, but you can find out plenty about them on their Yelp page, which you can see here: https://www.yelp.com/biz/roses-sugar-shack-cafe-san-clemente

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