Crowds Flock to Sweet Maple for Simple Good Eats

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Good old-fashioned American breakfast is the specialty every day at Sweet Maple, but weekend brunches (served 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.) take the fanfare to a new level. The Lower Pac Heights restaurant is only a year old, but you'd never know it from the crowds waiting outside for a table as early as 9:30 -- during the first weekend of winter weather, no less.

And it's clear they've made the trip with intention, because most of us wouldn't just stumble upon Sweet Maple. Located somewhere in between the Pacific Heights shopping activity and the Fillmore jazz district, it's set off slightly from the weekend hustle and bustle. The restaurant space is pretty large, featuring an open kitchen facing the dining room and a bar mixing Bloody Marys (made with soju) and three different kinds of Mimosas. 

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The wait can be tedious, with even bar seats subject to the waiting list; the staff has wisely set up a coffee station near the door to placate hungry morning customers. Still, no one seems rushed to finish their meals, and waiters aren't hurrying them along. Casually-dressed groups of two or three occupy most tables, chatting intimately and sipping lattes, very much in their own worlds. 

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Once the food arrives, it's easy to understand Sweet Maple's universal appeal. The menu is huge compared to many San Francisco restaurants, with a handful of varieties of scrambles, omelettes, benedicts two-egg breakfasts, morning sandwiches, pancakes and french toast plates. And that doesn't even cover the lunch options. There's nothing "nouveau" about any of the dishes, and customers like it that way. This is simple, unpretentious breakfast food done very well -- with a reasonable price tag to boot.  

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Fresh-squeeze orange juice

Orange and grapefruit juices are fresh-squeezed, beef and sausages are Niman Ranch, and the coffee is local from Marin (and fair-trade). Portions are substantial; most dishes are served with toast, breakfast potatoes and/or fruit cups -- the latter looking positively lush, overflowing with ripe berries and kiwi. Sweet Maple isn't skimping on the good stuff; even expensive ingredients are served in ample amounts. 

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Frisco Scramble

For example, take the Frisco scramble ($12.50), made with chicken apple sausage, scallion, mushroom, avocado and mild cheddar. That avocado sounded almost like an afterthought, right? Think again. There must have been an entire avocado nestled into the scrambled eggs, in addition to piles of mushrooms and sausage, all topped with a thick layer of cheddar. Though toppings are how we decide on our orders, so often they get lost in a sea of eggs. It's positively refreshing to experience all of the fresh ingredients here. 

And these breakfast potatoes are no mushy, lackluster hash browns. Perfectly crisp on the outside and soft on the inside, the potato "medley" features purple, red, yellow and sweet potatoes in a delicious mix. They're seasoned not just with salt and pepper, but with a touch of herbs (fresh rosemary?) and what tastes like fennel seed as well. Again, Sweet Maple has elevated everyday breakfast fare. 

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Potato medley and ciabatta toast

The toast clearly didn't come from a package of sandwich bread, either. The thick-crusted ciabatta slices are sweet and hearty -- delicious topped with a dollop of the table's raspberry jam. 

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Marnier French toast meal

If you have a sweet tooth, try the Marnier French toast ($7.95), three wedges of bread dipped in creamy Marnier batter and pan-fried, dusted with powdered sugar and cinnamon. Better yet, make it a meal for a few dollars extra. Then they tack on eggs, prepared however you like, with bacon, ham or your choice of sausage. 

Meat-lovers, it is essential while you are here to try the Millionaire's Bacon: shockingly thick strips of bacon glazed with brown sugar and sprinkled with red and black pepper. Perfectly savory with a spot-on sweet, spicy balance -- be warned, it may ruin bacon for you. A side order is $5.75 and worth every penny. 

Imagine if everything at old-school breakfast chains was as delicious as it sounded on the menu, made with fresh and organic ingredients and legitimately well-prepared. The concept is so simple, but Sweet Maple has it down. 

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Location Info

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Sweet Maple

2101 Sutter, San Francisco, CA

Category: Restaurant

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