Going out for Sunday brunch can be like taking a mini vacation. Sitting in an elegant dining room or outside in the sun under a big, floppy hat while sipping mimosas and eating something that I normally wouldn’t make at home is a decadent treat to end the weekend.
Brunch is an Angeleno favorite, and many restaurants continue to lure diners with live music, comfort food, bottomless mimosas and bloody Marys.
Recently, my family and I enjoyed brunch at Sonoma Wine Garden in Santa Monica near the beach. Located on a rooftop deck at Santa Monica Place, this restaurant offers a high energy atmosphere with sounds of a pulsating bass from the lively DJ spinning tunes and a cacophony of happy voices on the patio.
Owner Jeremy Umland created a wine country feel with a dramatic wine cellar-style bar and interesting wine bottle chandelier in the dining room. Wooden wine crate paneling decorates one wall, and olive trees and organic gardening beds are planted outside.
Sitting in one of the booths next to the outdoor lounge, I could see thatalmost every guest was sipping rosé wine, fizzy champagne, and over-the-top bloody Marys. I recommend taking an Uber or riding the new Metro Expo Line.
Sonoma Wine Garden is known for its outstanding wine menu. They also offer an elevated, make-your-own bloody Mary table with a multitude of condiments to enhance your cocktail, such as thick, caramelized strips of applewood bacon, giant cooked shrimp, extra long celery stalks, a variety of pickled vegetables and hot sauce.
Start with a bloody Mary and a basket of sweet baked goods to enjoy while looking over the menu. A menu brunch special includes bottomless mimosas with fresh orange juice and an entrée for $35. You have the option to choose one of six entrees that includes sunny side up eggs; French toast; eggs Benedict; a garden frittata; a Kaiserschmarr’n; or a chicken Caesar salad.
The Sonoma eggs Benedict arrived with a toasted croissant cut in half and layered with sliced avocado, poached eggs, chopped garden basil and topped with an aromatic applewood bacon Hollandaise sauce. There was a small side of roasted potatoes, too. Without a mimosa, my meal was under $15.
There is a champagne cocktail called Sound of Music that is bubbly with a generous pour of Austrian Elderflower syrup. I’d recommend this with egg-based Italian-style garden frittata. It’s similar to an omelette or crustless quiche, yet enhanced with roasted mushrooms, red bell pepper, baby spinach, caramelized onions and then topped with soft goat cheese.
We all enjoyed a plate of two large chicken apple sausages that arrived grilled with a side of zesty mustard aioli for dipping. Another favorite was the fried chicken breast and Belgian waffles with a paprika-maple syrup adding earthiness and sweetness to the dish.
For heartier drink, order a Michelada beertail served in a glass with a chili-lime rim. It’s made with Clamato, chipotle Tabasco, a squeeze of orange juice, and a generous pour of draft beer. This goes well with the Creek Stone Farms steak and eggs plate. The 8 ounce skirt steak is served with sunny side up eggs, breakfast potatoes and fresh tomato salsa.
The one disappointment was the Sunrise brunch pizza. Visually it was appealing, yet the crust was soggy, despite the chopped crispy bacon, ricotta cheese, roasted potatoes, red onion, mozzarella and cracked egg on top.
For dessert we split a caramelized Austrian Kaiserschmarr’n pancake soufflé with raisins. It was cut into small pieces like a bread pudding and served with roasted brandied apples on top.
The restaurant hosts winemaker dinners throughout the year and ideal place to meet others who are passionate about wine, cocktails and food. Arrive at sunset and sit outside under the twinkle lights with a glass of wine from Sonoma, or come for brunch to enjoy a mini getaway.
The restaurant is open for lunch on weekdays from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Dinner is served until 10 p.m. on Sunday through Thursday, and 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Saturday and Sunday Brunch is served from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. 395 Santa Monica Place, Ste. 300. (424)214-4560.
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