I think about breakfast/brunch as a meal the same way I think about Emilio Estevez as a Sheen. I’m glad it’s there but I wouldn’t be all that upset if it disappeared and left dinner (Martin) and lunch (Charlie) as the only remaining meals. This brings up an interesting point: Where is Emilio Estevez? Has anybody seen him? I hope he’s okay. But I digress…
I’m not the world’s biggest brunch fan and yet I found one last weekend that made me reconsider my feelings on the meal. It’s at Baran’s 2239, a ruby hiding in plain sight along PCH in a Hermosa Beach strip mall. Unless you’re looking for it, there’s very little chance you’d just walk in on your own. That said, Baran’s is getting some well-deserved credit these days. In fact, it just hit LA Weekly’s Freshman 15 list (kind of a best new restaurant award). While that’s bad news for anyone that wants a seat in the already over-booked restaurant, it’s great news for owners Jon and Jason Baran and their wildly inventive chef Tyler Gugliotta.
If you’ve tried to book a table at night here, you’ve already discovered that it takes great patience. Which brings us back to brunch. For those that want to eat at Baran’s, here’s my simple advice: go on Saturday before noon. My brunch there last weekend felt like a leisurely meal in a private dining room. Only three other customers arrived during that time period and one of them just sat at the bar. It was a pleasure to not feel any sort of rush (normal brunch strike #1). It was also equally enjoyable to see a menu that didn’t just offer the usual assortment of eggs, breakfast meat, and pancakes (normal brunch stroke #2). This is a chef’s brunch, which is the easy way of saying it’s a fine dining brunch without the fine dining setting. Side note: is fine dining brunch a thing?
Yes, there are eggs on the menu. They come in the 63-degree variety accompanied by beautiful biscuits and smothered in a nap-inducing red eye gravy. There’s also Baran’s signature Indian Egg, a curry-tinted take on a Scotch egg. Not to be outdone, eggs also show up as a sort of Japanese tamago in the Japanese omelet with dirty rice. Do NOT skip this dish. I repeat: Do. Not. Skip. This. Dish. It’s worth it for the rice alone that adds yuzu and soy gastrique together to create an almost otherworldly umami sum.
Yes, there are chicken and waffles (a requirement in LA these days), but the chicken has been smoked and spiced before frying. Yes, there’s french toast — but here it’s made from bread pudding and comes with a pink peppercorn cream that will turn most people off just by using the word “peppercorn,” but truly adds a whole other dimension to the dish. In fact, everything here seems have more depth and thought behind it than nearly any other brunch spot in LA and certainly the South Bay/Beach Cities area.
I could go on and on about the various dishes that you need to try, but at this point I don’t need to. You were hooked as soon as you saw the photos and if you’re smart, you’ve already called the restaurant to make your reservation for next weekend. You’ll need to do it quickly — brunch at Baran’s, just like dinner, will soon be one of the toughest tickets around.
502 Pacific Coast Hwy
Hermosa Beach, CA 90254