Is the happiest place on earth actually a restaurant in Montrose? From farmers’ market families to dudes who ride Ducatis, Black Cow Café may be just the place for weekend brunch if you like your eggs served cheerful side up.
2219 Honolulu Ave., opened in 1994 and is a product of the father and son team of Jeff and Jack Williams. The Williams opened Clancy’s Crab Broiler in 1975 and currently own and run not only the Black Cow and Clancy’s, but also JAX Bar and Grill, Hamburger Central, and The Star Café.
Fresh, quality ingredients whipped up into traditional options with a few twists are the focus at Black Cow, where the menu offers everything from a side of zucchini bread to a crab cake Benedict.
Usually, when a café has a menu of such size and variety, something suffers, be it the food, service or ambiance. But Black Cow has it down. There’s plenty to chose from but nothing to avoid.
Prices hover around $11 for a brunch entrée. Kids have their own menu, there’s gourmet coffee and a roster of side dishes to favor even the most finicky. And it’s all good. Clean plate club members appear to be the norm at Black Cow’s tables.
Black Cow serves LAMill coffee, the Silver Lake spot that’s too trendy and pricey for even the most ironic of hipsters but brought the knowledge of “clover” machinery and single-origin beans to mainstream drip sippers all over the Southland.
Black Cow’s coffee does taste a whole lot nicer than what’s normally filled to the rim at brunch cafes, and $3.95 for a small French press doesn’t seem that unreasonable once you take your first swig and learn that coffee serves a greater purpose than that of delivering caffeine.
Like fine wines, fine coffee can be savored. Black Cow knows this, and it may be one of the biggest draws to those who enjoy brunch but do not enjoy the typically café philosophy that darker, stronger coffee is better coffee.
Corn flake crusted French toast, blueberry waffles, and chilaquiles may not be culinary achievements on a Michelin scale, but they are, above all else, tasty and satisfying, which is exactly what one wants as the first meal of the day.
Black Cow also offers their own take on breakfast, including the B.C. Scramble of three eggs, ground beef, Ortega chiles, onions and cheddar cheese. Southern Baked Skillet combines two poached eggs over bacon and tomato with a house-made corn pudding and creamy cheddar sauce.
The Monte Cristo, while basically a deep-fried cheese, turkey, and ham sandwich on thick egg bread, is neither greasy nor too heavy. Despite the crisps sides of cranberry and strawberry jam and fruit, the Monte Cristo satisfies the desire for French toast and omelet but won’t leave you feeling like an extra date with the gym must be added into your day.
But what strikes one most about Black Cow on a Sunday morning is the positive vibe despite, or maybe because of, the bustle. Tables turn quickly, but are not rushed. Servers clear plates and drop checks when appropriate and fill water glasses when half-empty.
While noisy, the magnified murmur is more of a soundtrack than a distraction or intrusion. The décor is neither too much nor too little, but like the three bear’s porridge, just right. Kids behave well, parents relax, and even single diners can dig the cheerful vibe. It’s a strange sort of situation one encounters, as though we’re all on a TV show where the background talent never stands out and the star is always pleased. And you’re the star.
Now, if only they would get more comfortable chairs.
See the Black Cow Cafe website for hours, menus and other information.