Hundreds of Yelp reviews urged me to try Orphan Breakfast House (3440 C St.), many of which claimed that this is by far the best breakfast in Sacramento.
So why, then, was I so disappointed?
Orphan serves breakfast until they close at 2 p.m. Although they offer a lunch menu, breakfast is the restaurant’s focus.
From the outside, Orphan’s façade is just as depressing as its name. The exterior walls are covered with olive green stucco and black awnings.
And the “h” in the Orphan logo is created by a somewhat creepy silhouette of an adult holding a child’s hand.
Known for its nonconformist style, the interior decor includes syrup dispensers made from old Coke bottles, and the ATM machine (Orphan doesn’t accept credit cards) has been decorated to read, “B-ATM-AN.”
My party of three sat outside on the patio on a Wednesday afternoon, anxious for the food all those reviews raved about.
We sat in the sun for almost 10 minutes without water or a menu.
When the waiter arrived, we ordered water and coffee. The heat became too much, so we decided to move indoors.
The booths, padded with fabric cushions, seemed inviting at first, but a closer inspection revealed dirt and stains.
The menu, however, was impressive. It boasted a huge variety from banana-blackberry pancakes ($8.95) to breakfast tamales ($8.50) to the “Zen Breakfast” complete with brown rice, grilled tofu and scrambled egg whites ($8.50).
Unfortunately, that creative food took almost 25 minutes to arrive, and it was only decent.
The blueberry cornmeal pancakes ($8.95) had a great texture around the edges with a perfect amount of fresh blueberries in the batter, although towards the center, the pancakes were doughy.
The pesto scramble ($8.50) is made with delicious house made pesto, but the texture was monotonously soft and mushy. Aside from eggs, it included only grilled zucchini and tomatoes, so there was no interesting textural element.
Between bites, we constantly swatted flies away from our food. I noticed other tables had the same problem.
I thought I would be forever done with Orphan, but my friends expressed shock when they heard about my experience.
Nicole Antoine and Parul Guliani, ’11, are both frequent customers at Orphan.
Guliani says Orphan is one of the first places she suggests when meeting friends for lunch.
“It’s the best breakfast place I’ve ever been to (in Sacramento),” Guliani said. “It reminds me a lot of New York cafes.”
Guliani, a sophomore at Columbia University, loves the diversity of the menu, from Hispanic offerings to Asian stir fries, as well as the traditional American breakfast fare.
According to Antoine, the service is always slow.
“I go to Orphan knowing that it’s going to take a long time,” she said.
When I mentioned that I was turned off by the dirty seat cushions, she responded, “I haven’t noticed (them), but it wouldn’t surprise me since (Orphan) is a hipster place.”
Antoine noted that she enjoys the unconventional qualities of Orphan.
For instance, she pointed out that one can order a multivitamin or an American Spirit cigarette (both for 75 cents each).
After talking with Antoine and Guliani, I better understood Orphan’s mystique. On my first visit, I went nitpicking everything that wasn’t perfect, so I was bound to be unimpressed. I wasn’t prepared for the laid back, unconventional style.
But, if I go back in the winter (when flies won’t be a problem), seeking that hipster style, I’ll ignore the slow service and maybe get myself a multivitamin.