Monday, June 8, 2009

Hash House a Go Go Hillcrest

Hash House a Go Go in Hillcrest has been recommended to us many times over by every brunch lover in San Diego. It seemed to be a staple, a can't-miss place where the wait spills onto the sidewalk and there are sun chairs set out for the hungry hopefuls. We've stopped by several weeks, and with waits of 2+ hours and our tummies rumblin', we've passed every time. Until now. Determined to take part in this fabled brunch, we got in gear by 10:30 Sunday morning and headed over there to wait it out. Happily, the wait was only 20 minutes so "early" in the morning, so we hunkered down and waited our turn.

We were not disappointed. Within a half hour we were escorted though a jam-packed crowd to the back covered patio area by a friendly and funky hostess to a corner table, and started pawing through the menu. What an absolutely stellar menu! Not only was it incredibly extensive, everything sounded absolutely first rate. I could tell a keen mind was at work in the kitchen, because even with a lot of repeats like goat cheese, salmon, mozzarella, artichokes, and sun dried tomato popping up repeatedly through the menu, everything had its own spin and custom well-thought out main flavor. It took me much longer than usual to make up my mind about what to eat.

What didn't take me long to decide was what to drink. Their coffee and cocktail menus were innovative, all-encompassing, and reasonably priced. I selected the iced pistachio mocha and was treated to a tower of chocolate dripping nutty dusted cream topped icy fountain of magic. It was THAT GOOD. They even offered cocktails of the day along with the brunch specials, one of which I ultimately selected for my main course. Ashton opted for the House Hash with mushroom, artichoke hearts, sundried tomato and fresh spinach with 2 eggs, potatoes, fruit, and biscuit. On the waitress' suggestion, he also added goat cheese because what is a scramble without cheese? Only sadness and emptiness of the soul. For myself, I got the Scramble O' the Day, which consisted of baby shrimp, tomato, goat cheese, basil pesto, potatoes, fruit, and biscuit. With a glint in her eye, the waitress took our orders enthusiastically and assured us we had chosen well. Duh.

When the food finally came, the table literally sagged with the weight. Huge piles of delicious scramble towered before us, so impressive that a man walking to the table next to us stopped mid-stride and goggled at us like we were a pair of conquering kings sitting to a feast of epic proportions. It's always difficult to restrain ourselves to take a few pictures before diving in headfirst, but we managed to squeeze a few shots in. Everything completely lived up to our expectations. The goat cheese was some of the finest I've ever had. Creamy and fresh perfection. The eggs were scrambled beautifully, and there was no question of the freshness of the ingredients. The biscuits were light and fluffy, and my only qualm was they could have been warmer and a bit softer. The strawberry preserves left for us were a slop of gooey wonderfulness, and the potatoes were crispy and hot. Some of them were a little TOO crispy, but the flavor was excellent and hearty.

This isn't the kind of place that depends on condiments or sauces to make the dish stand on its own two feet. All of the food was lightly seasoned, and there wasn't a need to overseason to extract flavor. I confess, I did add some hot sauce, but that is only because hot sauce is delicious on everything. Anyway, I can't praise it enough. Even before ordering I knew that we were destined to return many times. It's worth the wait. So next time when you find yourself driving up 5th on a Sunday morning and you see a crowd gathered, stop. Park. Join them. You won't be disappointed.

Ashton is pleased with what we are about to consume.

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