Fried Cornmeal and Eggs!
I'm almost hesitant to share this one. Part of me doesn't want to see it overrun (it's a small, sedate place, perfect for breakfast;) and part of me just likes having a great "find" in my back pocket - 'just the thing to impress the unwitting locals when I visit.
I traveled to San Francisco on business several days a month for 16 years... and looking for a great, leisurely west-coast-breakfast (a completely different animal than we're used to on the east coast) after the demise of the legendary Doidge's, I was tipped to a place at the corner of California and Presidio, called "Ella's - Neoclassical American Cooking."
Ella's hottest selling breakfast day in and day out is the "Chicken Hash," a healthier version of the classic fried corned beef hash...and admittedly, it is quite good.
But the dish that turned my life around was a daily special curiously listed as "Fried Cornmeal and Eggs with Green Onions." What arrived were two large, soft pillows of creamy polenta, obviously chilled in a loaf just long enough to set, then sliced and browned in a pan 'til they were golden and crisped around the edges. The centers were moist and rich and studded with rounds of green onion-top. My two eggs, over-easy, were nearly crowded off the plate by their girth, and the Apple-wood smoked bacon required another small plate altogether.
Halfway through the meal I became self-conscious that my uncontrollable grin had begun attracting the attention of other diners. It was no use. I was in heaven.
The choices of breads were numerous, though I found the double-thick slices of whole wheat 'a little much' for my taste. (I like my whole wheat toast crunchy, and this was another big, soft item with a sweetness that distracted from the perfect balance of the cornmeal-and-eggs.) A better choice, I've found on (many!)subsequent visits, is the biscuit - homemade, serious, and more neutral in flavor.
One tip from experience: though you can find Fried Cornmeal and Eggs on the specials-list most weekday mornings, it's too 'high-prep' for serving the weekend crowds. Besides, you don't really want to fight a crowd to eat a meal like this and rush to get through it. (Okay, forgive me, I'm an East-Coaster displaying East Coast tendencies; California people don't tend to rush for anybody, and seem impervious to the stares of people lined up outside the window waiting for their tables.) Still and all, allow some time for this one. Have some fresh-squeezed orange juice and maybe a second cup of that dark-roasted coffee. Then go out and walk the Marina Green with a cool morning breeze blowing in through the Golden Gate. THAT's the recipe for a morning you'll remember.