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San Diego Uptown News | Dec. 9–Dec. 22, 2011


DINING FRANK SABATINI JR. / RESTAURANT REVIEW 3950 Fifth Ave. (Hillcrest)


619-500-3344 Prices: Breakfast dishes, $7 to $11.50; brunch items, $7.50 to $11


If you’re angling for a fast table on weekends at the new, instantly popular Snooze, you don’t want to hit the namesake button on your alarm clock. Get there before 8:30 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, and you’ll glide straight into this bright, Denver-based eatery, which made its local debut in November with clever renditions of eggs benedict, artisan corned beef hash and toothsome pancakes. Arrive later, and the wait time can increase up to 55 minutes right up until Snooze


closes at 2:30 p.m.


The doors open at 7 a.m. on weekends and 6:30 a.m. on weekdays, giving early risers an advantage for landing a table in one of the coveted circular booths that run through the middle of the lay- out. Either way, the restaurant feels dramatically large thanks to tower- ing ceilings and copious skylights that pull in practically 100 percent of the day’s sunlight. In addition, the entire façade is windowed, with the lower half rigged with retractable


garage doors – all the rage among contemporary designers.


Owners Jon Schlegel and his brother, Adam, bring Snooze to Hillcrest on the heels of fi ve successful loca- tions in and around Denver. Jon Schle- gel was partial to San Diego after working as food and bever-


age manager for the Hyatt Regency La


Jolla. Here, he presents the operation in a


visually stimulating structure built from


the ground up and has lo- cal restaurant expert Robert Butterfi eld (of the former Paral- lel 33) managing the show. Only at Snooze will you fi nd such original morning starts as breakfast pot pies with rosemary- sausage gravy or “pancake


fl ights” that allow you to choose three different types from a list that extends to pumpkin cream, sweet potato and red velvet. But it was the pineapple upside down pancakes that cast a spell on me when merely spotting them on the menu. Fat and fl uffy, they beckon somewhat to the iconic cake des- sert except that the recipe replaces the heavy doses of brown sugar


Look no further than Snooze for pineapple upside down pancakes. (Photo by Frank Sabatini Jr.)


and butter with vanilla crème an- glaise. You’ll also fi nd little puddles of cinnamon butter bursting from the crevices. All told, no maple syrup is required. The “Art of Hollandaise” sec-


tion features fi ve preparations of eggs benedict that are anything but snoozy. My companion took advantage of choosing two of them, served in half orders. The chilaquiles version concealed ten- der carne asada beneath a mantle of luscious smoked-cheddar


Hollandaise. The other prepara- tion, called Bella! Bella! Benny, was even dandier. It incorporated prosciutto and prized Taleg- gio cheese strewn over toasted ciabatta bread. The crowning elements were arugula, balsamic glaze and Hollandaise laced with cream cheese. Poached eggs never tasted so good. Ditto for the corned beef


hash, the real deal not born from a can. The meat and potatoes are chopped down properly into small chunks, with bits of poblano chiles for an extra kick. The hash was griddled to a thin crisp sans exces- sive grease and the kitchen got the yolks right in the two cage-free eggs that come on top, which I requested “medium.” Snooze further proves its ability to kick start bleary-eyed customers with an exclusive blend of Guatemalan coffee, which my companion applauded for “not tasting overly roasted like at Starbucks” and for boasting a “good, dark fl avor.” I skipped the joe in lieu of an alcohol jolt -- a “Buggs Bloody” made with the same elements of a bloody Mary, except for the carrot-infused Skyy Vodka. The sweet carrot under- tones in the drink made perfect sense upon fi rst sip.


The menu extends also to


several brunch dishes, served during the wee-early hours as well. They include Niman Ranch burgers; fi sh tacos using “catch of the day;” a Cuban sandwich and shrimp and cheddar grits crowned with a poached egg. Prices across the menu are sur- prisingly reasonable, given the food’s frisky gourmet twists and quality ingredients. In regards to service, we felt in good hands considering the restaurant opened only three weeks ago. Half of the staff origi- nates from Snooze’s Colorado locations, so there was little dress rehearsal involved for handling the fl ocks that began patronizing the place from day one. Based on our fi rst breakfast here, the ex- citement isn’t likely to turn sleepy anytime soon.u


For this week's ratings, visit sduptownnews.com


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