Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Breakfast at Pork Store Cafe, San Francisco

The Pork Store Cafe is in Haights-Ashbury, an area of San Francisco which was traditionally the hippy district, but now an expensive part of town to live, giving off a vibe similar to that of London's Soho. But its hippy roots are still clear with plenty of psychedelic graffiti, thrift shops and independent cafes. 

Today, apparently the hippies have turned into hipsters, but unless they dress differently than the ones in Britain, I didn't see any because everyone else looked very normal - or maybe the hipsters were sensibly still in bed at the ungodly hour I went to have my breakfast.

Not quite American diner not quite cafe, The Pork Store is slightly rough around the edges with charm from its chipped matte pink door frames, pig characters and grease clinging to the walls above the open kitchen... Honestly, keep reading. I know I'm not painting a great picture.

After a recommendation from Google, I entered the pint-sized venue and sat at the bar overlooking three chefs who were lighting the grill, and I admired the lines of framed posters, all of which were old adverts for the Haight-Ashbury Street fairs from the 80s and 90s - clearly a very psychedelic affair in its day.

Aided by my jetlag, I arrived at opening on a Sunday - 8am - and the place was soon packed, with queues of locals keen to start their days with a hearty meal.

The menu was extensive, with all of the usual American oddities that I didn't understand - pork chops for breakfast? Gravy? And what the heck are biscuits?

Apparently, biscuits are like a scone, and I soon found out they were very soft, half scone-half floury bread roll. And of course my two rather large biscuits accompanied a goliath sized breakfast of 'eggs in a tasty nest’ ($9.95). I thought the basket would be the hash brown, but this was two fried eggs laying on top a mix of crispy potato, bell peppers, tomatoes, garlic, salty bacon lardons, stringy cheese and a lot of fried onions. Less nest, more sea of savoury goodness.

I must say it wasn't the easiest thing to eat as it had no structure, and the scone - I mean biscuit - fell apart so beautifully it was a bit tricky to mop up the golden runny egg yolk, never mind it's ‘nest’. Maybe a touch too much onion for me (I went straight to buy gum afterwards), but a great way to start the day before a hike around the Golden Gate Park, which incidental is only a stone's throw away.

While I tried to finish my food, I watched a conveyer belt of fried food go by, monumental pancakes, golden hash browns, and eggs of all shapes and sizes. And I couldn’t get over the efficiency and ease of slipping two fried eggs the size of my head onto a plate of hash browns - it was mesmerising.

Keeping my eyes peeled, I noticed the girl next to me who had clearly got the tip about the Pork Store because she looked even more like a tourist than me. She had the French toast which while looked average with a scattering of fruit, smelt amazing, I couldn't help but stare.

Meanwhile a little further down the bar, a local woman actually ordered the speciality – TWO pork chops! When anyone ordered a pork chop and the waitress would shout "pork chop" to the chefs across the café, and that was the only noise in the café apart from the sizzle of the grill and a low rumble of hungover Haighters - the pork shop speaks for itself. It is what it is.

When her Pork Store Special arrived, it was simply two slabs of meat next to two fried eggs laid on what I think was hash browns, sitting next to a bowl of grits (ground-corn porridge-like dish) and biscuits - a ridiculous amount of food even by my standards. I was so intrigued by the pork chop but my jet lagged British tummy couldn't quite literally stomach it.

A place like this just wouldn't exist in the UK, and I'm kind of glad. You can't get much more American or local, and while places like the Breakfast Club in Soho and Brighton’s New Club try very hard, they fail purely by trying to be something they're not... Not to mention the true American portion sizes!

And don't be put off by the grease on the walls, it only adds to its character, I promise.

Here are more snaps of my trip to Haight-Ashbury, San Francisco:

#haightashbury #sanfran #sanfrancisco #adventures #travel #streetart #america

Wish I could do my food shop at a place like this! Amazing #haightmarket #foodie #sanfran #sanfrancisco #sanfranciscofood #weeklyshop #freshfood #naturalfood #goodforyou