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February 12, 2012

Christin’s Morning Spoon: The Malibu Diner

Saturday morning my brunch buddy and I were catching up on Top Chef Texas reruns, one of our favorite shows.  Their quick fire challenge was to make a whimsical pancake for Pee-wee Herman.  As we watched the chefs prepare delicious ricotta pancakes and crazy sprinkle filled pancakes, we both decided a pancake brunch needed to be in our immediate future.

After scanning the menus of a few brunch places in search of a delicious pancake selection, my brunch buddy suggested that we try the Malibu Diner.

The Malibu Diner is located at 257 14th Street, right on the corner of 14th and Park.  Believe it or not, after living so close to it, I have never actually been there – not even for a late night post-bar snack.  He promised great pancakes, so I was sold!

Here is my recap.

Parking Right out Front.  My brunch buddy called his friend Chris to come join us for brunch.  We hopped in my car and drove over to the Malibu Diner.  At first I was concerned about trying to park, but then remembered the parking lot in the front and side of the diner.  To be able to drive and park (without having to pay) right in front of a restaurant is a huge bonus for a place in Hoboken.  So even though the walk is quick, it was great to be a little lazy and just jump in the car and not have to deal with finding a spot.

Not So Great Service. After we met Chris, we sat down and read through our menus (obviously turning straight to the pancake section).  We decided on our meals, closed our menus and waited…and waited and waited, but our waitress did not come.  After about ten minutes, she finally arrived and took our order.  Luckily, our food came out pretty quickly, because by then we were starving.

After we were done eating we again waited quite awhile for our plates to be cleared and the check to arrive.  As Chris pointed out, we were at a diner, so we should not expect amazing service.  Although it was slow, our waitress was friendly enough.  We weren’t in a rush to leave breakfast, so it just gave us extra time to sit and relax.

Plenty of Menu Choices.  One of the things that always deters me from going to a diner is their incredibly large selection of meals.  I always think that if a menu has that many items, they can’t possibly make them taste great.  But if you are looking for a quick, cheap breakfast, diners are the way to go.

In addition to a large selection of pancakes (I’ll get to them in a minute), they have eggs any way you could possibly dream; omelets, skillets and benedicts.  They also have Belgian waffles, French toast and even bagels.  Regardless of what you are in the mood for, they most likely have it on their menu.

My brunch buddy was toying with the idea of ordering a side of bacon, but at the last minute decided on a halved cantaloupe.  He loved it.  He thought it was very fresh and a great healthy snack to hold him over until our meal arrived.

Lots of Pancakes.  Just as my brunch buddy said, the Malibu Diner has a ton of pancake varieties.  They have fresh fruit, cinnamon raisin, peach n’ cream, peanut butter and chocolate chip and apple walnut pancakes.

My brunch buddy made a healthy substitution and ordered whole wheat pancakes with blueberries.  Expecting fresh blueberries, he was very disappointed to see the blueberry compote on his pancakes.  He hoped that fresh blueberries would be mixed in with the batter.  He ended up wiping off the syrupy blueberry compote with his fork and eating them semi plain.

Chris ordered banana peanut butter pancakes.  Unlike my brunch buddy, he loved his, commenting that they were definitely a four spoon pancake.  He also ordered a side of bacon, which was placed right on top of his pancakes.

Chocolate Chip Pancakes.  After debating between banana walnut or chocolate chip pancakes, I decided on chocolate chip.  They are usually my all-time favorite and I was definitely in the mood for something chocolate-y.  I was served three large pancakes, with mini chocolate chips mixed right into the batter.

They were a little dry and the chocolate chips on one side of the pancakes were burnt.  The only syrup option was in a small plastic container, which did not taste that great – I am a big fan of real Vermont maple syrup.

Out of five spoons, I give the Malibu Diner three.  With such a large and diverse menu, there is sure to be something to please everyone in your brunch party.  Sadly though, the taste definitely does not compete with the many great brunch spots in Hoboken.

The pancakes were good and since all three of us got them, maybe something else on the menu would have tasted a bit better.  Since it is one of the only true diners in Hoboken, it’s clean, large and a great place to stop for any meal of the day or even a late night snack since the Malibu is open 24/7.

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March 24, 2011

Christin’s Morning Spoon: City Bistro Brunch

Filed under: Breakfast & Brunch,City Bistro,Restaurants — Tags: , , , , , , , — Christin DeMassi @ 3:00 PM

Christin’s Morning Spoon: City Bistro Brunch 

By New Contributor Christin DeMassi
Whether you need the hair of the dog to beat your booze blues or simply want to recap all that has happened in the past 48 hours, there is no better way to revive yourself and reminisce than Sunday brunch. It is the perfect way to extend the weekend before facing the manic work week.
I have wanted to start a breakfast/brunch blog for a few years, and there’s no better area to spotlight than the many great restaurants of Hoboken. Over the next few months I will try a new brunch place each weekend, helping you find your next go-to weekend morning spot.  
I woke up Sunday morning, eager to start my quest for the best brunch in Hoboken. Turning Point was first on my list, but the hour wait and my rumbling stomach forced me to leave it for another day.
I decided to try City Bistro on 14th Street between Washington and Hudson.  I’ve been to City Bistro for dinner and have enjoyed a fall Sunday Funday or two on their rooftop deck but never experienced their brunch.  
Again, I was faced with another thirty plus minute wait.  As I turned to walk out the door, disappointed by my first brunch adventure, the hostess suggested we try the upstairs lounge.  There were four high tables, plenty of bar space and a welcoming environment.  I was finally ready to enjoy a delicious meal!  Here’s my recap… 
You can’t go wrong with unlimited drinks and a delicious breakfast.  City Bistro offers a meal and unlimited Mimosa/Bloody Mary special for $19.95.  Since most of the menu options are approximately $10, if you are looking to have a few morning cocktails, it is worth it to try the special.  Unfortunately after a late night out I was not ready to begin drinking quite so early. 
The bread basket.  I always say that bread is the determining factor between a good restaurant and a bad one. Very few places offer bread with breakfast, so I was very surprised by the complimentary muffin, croissant and pastry spread. This was definitely the highlight of the meal. 
The menu is dominated by lunch options.  I know brunch should be a combination of breakfast and lunch, but the menu was dominated by lunch choices. There was a limited selection of breakfast items: pancakes, French toast and a few egg dishes. The majority of the menu focused on sandwiches, salads and pizzas.  
The food looked better than it tasted.  I ordered the pancakes with strawberries, bananas and vanilla maple syrup. Unfortunately it sounded and looked much better than it tasted. The strawberry banana topping was scant and the dry pancakes lacked the moist, mouthwatering taste I expect from pancakes.  My brunch buddy ordered the Florentine eggs Benedict with home fries. He liked the home fries (so did I!), but thought the eggs benedict left a bit to be desired. 
Attentive staff.  Usually when eating in the bar area, the bartender tends to ignore diners to focus on the customers at the bar.  In the upstairs lounge, the waiter came over numerous times to ensure we were enjoying our meal and had everything we needed.   We were encouraged to grab a drink and stay as long as we wanted, never feeling like we were being rushed through our meal to fit other diners in as quickly as possible. 
Out of a possible five spoons, I give City Bistro three. The atmosphere and staff were great, but it lacked the essentials for a delicious brunch.
This Sunday I’ll be venturing downtown to La Isla.  Stuffed French toast is my FAVORITE breakfast meal.  I’m very excited to see if it was good enough to challenge Bobby Flay.  Thanks for reading!

- Christin DeMassi

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