Noon All Day, bougie fast casual for a changing Dogpatch
Yes, my intermittent lazy posting continues because having to work sucks!! It just takes up so much time when I could be doing other things like volunteering, chores and exercising. Though more likely sleeping late, surfing the web and laying on the couch tv binging, but whatever.
Since I'm back working in Dogpatch, the latest up and coming neighborhood, it seems to be changing on a daily basis. Each time I walk down Third St or any of the others, I see new upscale-ish apartment/condo buildings going up fast. Much like the Warriors new arena, these additions will bring some big changes to the hood. With such upscale living spots it is only natural for restaurants to eventually move in, adding to some of the stalwarts already here like Hard Knox, Just For You, Serpentine, Long Bridge Pizza, Piccino, etc. All good places, but seems Piccino is getting a head start on others as they have opened a "fast casual" spot in one of those new fancy apartment buildings called Noon All Day.
I figured if I'm gonna be in the hood I should give it a try and decided to meet up with former co-worker from said hood Ms. L and check the spot out. The space is all industrial wood and clean lines kind of place, much like all the apartments being built in the area. It is a combination kind of spot where bakery meets coffee shop meets grab and go salad and sandwich shop. Though they do have tables for just hanging out and eating inside and out, but no free wifi, so don't get to comfortable.
Up front is a small glass enclosure with the days baked goods selection, though weirdly, nothing has a price on it, which always leave me suspicious. Still me and L soldiered on and perused the case along with a small menu of kitchen creations to see what caught our eye. First up was something I'm gonna call, egg in a hole.
Pretty sure this was around $5 or $6 but not totally sure, the whole no price listing thing. But it is a sunny side up egg baked inside a roll that is like a brioche bun meets a croissant then rolled around in a bunch of different seeds. Like a fancy eggs on toast kind of thing you could take away as a quick breakfast. While it wasn't offered upfront, we did ask to have this heated, which they did, though it took while. The egg was more like a hard boiled one once you cut it open so you won't be getting any runny yolk here. Sad, as I think it could have benefited from that if they could figure out how to do it. The outer crust is flakey and there are notes of butteriness to it, but it does come off a little on the dry side. Thus the need for a little runny egg. Possibly could have been a tad overcooked as the brown you see above was actually darker than it appears. While I liked the idea of this, not gonna say it was the best execution wise.
We kept the breakfast theme going with a menu side dish of red eye pork belly braised in maple, chile and espresso. Kind of their version of millionaires bacon. Three decently thick, yet half sized slices served warm at least. As usual, I just couldn't pass up some bacon. They call this pork belly all they want, it was more bacon than belly as the meat was more prevalent than the fat you will find on belly. Not sure I was on board with the espresso, but the chile maple glaze gave it the whole spicy, sweet, savory thing I kind of like. The meat was tender with some nice crispness just around the edges. Price was it was border line for me, but did remind of a tapas dish you might get around town and as a side to share, that is one and a half pieces for two people, I liked it enough to say it's worth trying.
And into each meal must come some veggies right? Why not make them deep fried like these cauliflower potato fritters with a fermented green tomato aioli. Have to say, these were served up hot and crispy and quite spot on. The balls are on the big size with that lovely golden brown coating. You get all the potato and cauliflower taste you want in these. The aioli seemed more like a creme fraiche thing, which was fine. Maybe not my first choice, but it goes well enough. For $5, it is a tasty shareable small bite.
Into each like a little green must grow and be served up like this kale, purple daikon radish, mixed greens, yuba noodles, tahini and togarashi--a chili pepper spice mixture. One bite of this and the first things that came to mind were overdressed and salty. There was a lot of wet going on here between whatever oil was mixed in and the cream like dressing underneath which was akin to a ranch dressing. Can't say this was either of our favorites. While the radish added some needed crunch, the yuba noodles were a few and far between bites (can't even see them in the pic). The real overriding "spice" seemed to be salt as opposed some kind of spicy chile, there was just a lot of it going on here. And for the price, it isn't the biggest of salads you are gonna get. For something without meat of on it, seemed pricey for what amounts to a bag of greens. Needless to say, not one of our faves.
I did swing back by this place solo as I was interested in trying their version of a breakfast sandwich. I am always on the lookout for something new, different and affordable. I noticed they had this egg and potato torta and was intrigued enough to try it. It is a Spanish style omelette with kale, potato and caramelized onion with spicy aioli, pickled red cabbage and arugula on a toasted ciabatta roll. Now the basic version of this is $6.50 but on this day they also had one with spicy sausage for $1 which I sprang for, because why not. All in all I liked the sandwich. It is kind of like a crustless quiche on a roll, sans the cheese. It was good heated up, which again, wasn't offered upfront but I had to ask for--something I shouldn't have to when I told them each time I would be eating in. But that is a service issue, not a food one.
I'm guessing they used some kind of convection quick toaster as the bread had a nice little crunch to it. And while pickled cabbage and egg may seem weird I thought it worked with a nice tang and crunch. I will say I don't think the sausage upgrade was worth it as the pieces I can across where diced so small and fine you could barely taste them. I'd suggest you stick with the standard version and save the dollar. Though, maybe they should think about adding the pork belly as an upgrade. Just a thought. I could have used a bit more of the spicy aioli too as the pickled cabbage upstaged it some. Still, I liked this an affordable breakfast sandwich of decent size and cost. Something getting a little more rare in SF.
I figured I couldn't leave without trying one of their sweets, but to be honest, I wasn't all that enticed by some of the offerings. Coconut and taro danish and apple five spice scone, while I guess are interesting in terms of different or to go with your coffee, they aren't exactly flavors or items I gravitate toward. Thus I ended up with the Valrhona (a type of chocolate) dulcey chocolate chip cookie. First off, for the price, it ain't the biggest cookie on the block, which is kind of a bummer since otherwise, they have done a really good job of baking on this one. The edges had a slight crispness and the center was appropriately soft, chewy and filled with enough chocolate to get some in every bite (though is that hard to do in a small cookie?). The ubiquitous sprinkle of salt on top I'll even not side eye since I am all about salty sweet. The little tan bits in the pic are like dulce de leche, a caramel spread, baked into the cookie which just adds another little layer of flavors to it. Thus I was torn, I liked the cookie, hated the size and price. Which means I will support this as a special occasion price splurge cookie.
While some things were a bit hit or miss for me, I still liked Noon All Day and will probably pop back in every now and then to see if they change the menu or baked goods selection around as time goes by. And while I have seen a few review grouse about prices (like I do!) they do have a few affordable things I think you can make a really filling and tasty breakfast/brunch/lunch out of. Plus, any breakfast sandwich still under $7 is a bargain.
Currently they are slowly gathering a following, though not so much you can't just walk in and grab a table. They have also started weekend brunch with a whole separate menu and I'm sure it gets a bit crowded then because...it's brunch in SF and that happens. A few Dogpatch long time residents my not like the current changes happening but you can't stop progress as they say. And while Noon All Day may be the bougie cafe some neighbors don't want, it is the one the neighborhood is gonna need and embrace as it grows. Trust me, I've seen it happen before.