We’re still on that Oregon and California Coast road trip! Not because I have countless vacation days and enjoy dilly-dallying on the coast (wish that were the case), but because I’ve just fallen behind yet again (I know, unbelievable, right?) – somehow miring under the ever increasing count of restaurant experiences I keep meaning to write about.
You’ve probably read all about (and forgotten by now) the first two days of the road trip adventure and all the foodie pit stops along the way. Day 3 was going to be the last day of our Memorial Day weekend jaunt along the Pacific Rim, dabbling in the luxurious views of the Oceanside and the Giant Redwoods. It’s kind of a big deal – you had to be there. And for those of you who were not, you’ll just have to flex those imagination muscles as you read through the tales here!
We were planning to cover a lot of ground on Day 3. The generation of uncompromising want-it-alls that we are, we were unable to cut out any of the highlights along the way: we wanted it all. The curvy twists and turns of the Lost Coast where road-building had ceased because of the rough and rugged terrain, the experience of driving through a living tree (yes, it’s THAT huge), the calm and serenity of the amazing Mendocino coastline, and finally the wine valley of Anderson. All in time for an early return to my place in the San Francisco bay area, a relaxed home-cooked dinner, and a quick nap before catching a crack of dawn flight back from San Francisco to Dallas (for my visiting friends – luckily my plan was to come home right after the airport drop off and sleep).
In order to make all of this happen, we decided to wake up at the ungodly hour of 530am and hit the road by 630am. Ambitious you say? Sheer torture, I’ll concur. And yet we made it happen, the want-it-all road warriors that we are. Sleepily dozing over a make-shift morning-starter of strong coffee and oatmeal at the hotel lobby (I refuse to count that as part of the 101 challenge), sleepily wondering why there’s an automated pancake roller-looking machine on the counter and why it’s beeping at annoyingly frequent intervals to indicate a jam in its cogs and then sleepily dragging ourselves out to the car, we set off. Albeit sleepily. And within minutes we were at the door of the nearby Starbucks, arming ourselves with an arsenal of caffeine for our miles of isolation.
I realize it would be bad to hijack this platform and write about the amazing quiet of the Lost Coast and the twisty-turny ride through the terrain. Our drive took us first through farmlands, open pastures of rolling hillsides as far as the eye can see, and way more cows than you can count in a bored moment. Then we drove through the Avenue of the Giants as we coasted alongside even more Giant Redwoods despite now being hours south of the Redwoods National Park. I can’t really hijack this platform for a greedy self-satisfying experience of recounting those scenic and awe-stricking moments of clouds separating just a hair to allow a burst of sunlight to hit the lush green fuzz of the hillsides at a slant in a mockery of those fancy paintings in city galleries. I’m breathless just thinking about it. So hijack I won’t and we’ll skip forward to being famished by the time we were at the end of our drive past the Avenue of the Giants.
Here Route 1 starts (or actually, ends, since its start is in Southern CA). We made our way through miles of amazing twisty turns until we neared civilization around Fort Bragg. Famished by then, we found our way to a very cute brunch spot by the name of Egghead’s Restaurant.
Who wouldn’t want to drop by an establishment whose very name conjures up images of sunshiny yellow, clown-nose red and the perfect steely blue of Nemo’s home surf? You think of Humptey Dumptey and conjure up images of easter eggs decked up in their smileys, frilly aprons and rosy cheeks, catapulting themselves in glee into frying pans with molten butter. Clearly, we were hungry.
Egghead’s is on the main stretch of Rt. 1 that passes straight through Fort Bragg. It is right next to a cute and intriguing books, records and gifts shop, set apart from its neighbors in its bright red declaration of “an adventure in good taste”. Upon a casual glance, you may even notice the lion on the sign and think, “how yellow and befitting”. Only when you look a second time (or maybe your first look is less superficial and surface-scanning than mine) are you likely to notice the tinman. Tinman? As in Dorothy and Toto and the Tinman and the Lion?
What does the Egghead have to do with the Wizard of Oz? Search me. But the Egghead’s Restaurant is all about the Wizard of Oz. You will walk in through the door, just a mite puzzled at whether you really saw Tinman on the sign, and as you enter the small space, you will be greeted with a wall full of a bright rainbow blazing above all of Dorothy’s peeps lined up staring at the proverbial yellow brick road. You may notice through the corner of your eyes that there are booths to the right and two-person tables along the wall on the left, but you will really register just that bright rainbow and the silhouettes of the characters of Wizard of Oz at that yellow brick road. Everything else will just be gnats snared in the peripheral vision net of yours.
We put our names down for about a 15-20minute wait around 130pm, and the place closes at 2pm. They assured us they wouldn’t turn back hungry brunch-seekers, and if we’ll just hold onto the sparkly square of electronic gadgetry they handed us, it will beep and buzz and alert us when a table became available. We didn’t really want to wait, we were famished, and it was getting warm outside, and we would have just loved to sit down and sip on some ice cold water and mull over our brunch options, but wait we had to, and we considerately took our disheartened selves outside. We roamed a nearby photo gallery and oooh-ed and aaah-ed at the amazing collections of scenic wonders captured through some photographers talented and deft use of their gear. We looked at our watches. We glared at the square piece of electronic disappointment. We watched me stumble on a crack in the sidewalk and almost go flying head first onto the asphalt, but actually just twisting an ankle slightly in the hullabaloo. And then the square beeped!
We were seated at the very end of the restaurant, near the kitchen – closer to food is great, we thought. The service was exceptionally friendly and prompt, and we pored over the menu, trying to decide what seemed appealing.
One of my friends ordered from the daily specials menu – a pair of poached eggs on biscuits, smothered in sour cream and diced tomatoes, served with home fries. Eggs Benedict done Mexican style, almost. The dish was well received but I’m going to go out on a limb and surmise that what I (and my other friend) ordered may have just stolen the limelight.
We ordered the crab omelet. Before you roll your eyes and declare us the least experimental and creative bunch, let me describe to you just how amazing that crab omelet was. I chose a biscuit with mine, my friend ordered toast. In addition, our omelets came with a hearty serving of home fries – crispy on the outside, nice and moist on the inside. I actually don’t mind my home fries not looking like perfect cubes – rounded edges and lopped off corners just mean more bits and pieces and soft-doneness.
The crab stuffed inside the omelet was really fresh. If I had to pick just one thing that made that brunch meal, it was decidedly the freshness of the crab. Mini chunks and shreds, sort of embedded into the body of the egg, the crab retained its assertiveness of flavor and taste, but also blended very well into the cradle of all that omelet-y embrace. Our last meal stop on this 3 day Oregon-California coast road trip sure did not disappoint!
Egghead’s was playfully quirky, bright and resplendent with a hard-to-define pride in a job well done: from well executed brunch items to a thematically well-orchestrated ambiance!