CONFESSIONS OF A                                                                  
A San Francisco Girl's Down and Dirty Adventures in the Culinary Playground

Monday, June 20, 2005

Going Dottie (Dottie's True Blue Cafe -- San Francisco, CA)

It's absolutely shameful that I call myself a restaurant whore and that, until recently, I had never been to Dottie's True Blue Cafe. Boy, was I missing out.

I don't know what it was that made me take so long to get there; I've done the wait-all-day-in-line-for-breakfast deals before at places like Mama's and Ella's (seems like all the good breakfast spots have ladies names: Dottie's, Ella's, Kate's Kitchen, Mama's...). The thing about Dottie's, though, is that once I reach the front of the line, I'm just plain grateful and excited to be eating there, whereas at the other places there's a good dose of pissed off in there, too. Perhaps it's because Dottie's is in the Tenderknob, and it's hard to be pissed off about waiting for your breakfast when several folks who NEVER get breakfast pass by while you are in line.

Dottie's is teeny tiny. And the line is not. That said, the wait always seems to take about 45 minutes during peak hours (10 a.m. - 1 p.m.). The line is kind of fun though, and if you are lucky, you'll have friends that get there before your lazy ass (Thanks Garth and Ariana) and save you a spot. I wouldn't recommend making this a habit, unless you want everyone else in line, including your friends, to hate you.

The first time we went there, we witnessed the most impressive display of cooking I've ever seen. We were seated at the counter, behind which was a lone chef furiously churning out the orders for the ravenous dining room. This kitchen is smaller than the one in my old apartment. The refrigerator is just a regular old fridge -- no Sub Zero, no walk in. Next to that is a small work surface, a griddle, a few burners and the mise en place (little canisters of ingredients ready to be thrown into a tasty concoction). That's it. It is, and this is being generous, about 8 feet long. And Mr. Chef Man is using every square inch of it, every single second.

Now, why, children, do the masses flock to Dottie's? Because the food is off the hook. On that first visit, Jon got the Southwestern Scramble, which has Andouille sausage, onions, cheese, salsa and a whole bunch of other stuff. I got the cornmeal blueberry pancakes, and just so we could get our entire carb intake for the week, we also got some of their signature spicy cornbread with jalapeno jelly. I'm a sucker for cornbread. And Dottie's is delicious. It's on the drier side, but with the jelly, it's just right. The scramble gets an A+. And the pancakes were so good, that I spent my next visit trying to talk our friend into ordering them just so I could have a bite.

Dottie's has a lot of specials, which don't seem to change very much. One of these specials is the smoked chicken apple sausage with eggs, potatoes and (fanfare here) cornbread. The sausage is by far the best chicken apple sausage I've had anywhere, ever. My two eggs (scrambled) were light and fluffy and perfect, except that it appeared to be about eight eggs rather than two. My only complaint is the potatoes, which are cubed and a little mushy. That's just a personal preference thing, though, as I prefer hash browns.

One of the other specials are black bean cakes with salsa and sour cream. This comes with eggs and cornbread as well. They are perfectly tasty and what's more, they are unusual. I've never seen anything like them before. I'd also imagine that they are pretty nutritious, except for the pound of sour cream on top, and you really can't leave out the sour cream, so...

There is also a chalkboard just for baked goods -- how fucking cool is that? Try the sweet potato honey bread served with cream cheese. Make sure you finish eating it in time to get to that angioplasty you'll need afterwards. This was so good that it made me feel dirty (more so than usual, I mean). Their pecan cinnamon rolls are also deliciously luscious. They are soft and chewy. Jon bit into what he thought was a pecan, which actually turned out to be brown sugar. After discovering this he looked like someone who had just been healed at a religious revival.

I have yet to have anything bad there. On top of that, the staff is great. The servers are always cheerful and sweet, despite having very little space to move in and no down time between serving tables, taking and filling orders, and dealing with checks. On top of that, Mr. Chef Man is super chill and was extremely gracious when we let him know how much he rocked our world.

But the coolest thing about Dottie's is how it inspires people to be on their best behavior. There's no pushing, no attitude, no hierarchy of any sort. In fact, during our first visit, the man next to us at the counter ordered a huge egg plate and a side of French toast. This was a pretty thin man, so I was impressed he could eat so much. We chatted with him while we waited for our food, and when it came, he cut up his French toast and gave it to the people who were still waiting in line to get in. So rad.

Next time you want to get your eggs (or pancakes or sausage, etc.) on, hit up Dottie's. She'll leave you wanting more.


"To eat is a necessity, to eat intelligently is an art."
--La Rochefoucauld


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I came across this post last week and by coincidence, my boyfriend picked this place to take a friend from Japan for brunch. Spot on review. The tomatoes with the asparagus and feta scramble were the BEST.

Love the line, "'s hard to be pissed off about waiting for your breakfast when several folks who NEVER get breakfast pass by while you are in line." I'll remember that the next time I get antsy in any line.

5/16/2006 8:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't you just love it when you recommend a restaurant to a friend and they love it as much as you do?

Paul and I stumbled across Dottie's Tru Blu when in S.F. for NYE 2006. Whenever we talk about it, we describe it as the "BEST BREAKFAST EVER!!!!"

We're from Australia and I recently recommended Dottie's to a friend who would be visiting the US this month. He actually made it to Dottie's and loved it.

Worth waiting in the queue for 40 minutes, worth sitting separately to your friends because the tables are too small and worth every calorie.

Perth, Western Australia

7/20/2007 4:24 AM  
Blogger 2hp said...

Dotties ROCKS! End of story. I think all the people griping about the long lines haven't been inside yet.

11/11/2007 3:07 PM  

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