Santa Monica Breakfast Club opened a couple of months ago at the Grand Hyatt. I didn’t attend the opening and I’ve heard mixed reviews about the food and service so I thought I’d go and check it out myself now the initial buzz has died down.
We arrived just before noon mid-week and first impressions were not favourable. For a restaurant aiming to create a ‘friendly and sociable vibe’ it didn’t hit the right tone; this is how the conversation went
Greg: ‘Hi, do you have a table for 2 please’
Server: Shruged smiled and gestured to the empty restaurant
Greg: ‘Can we just sit anywhere, is here ok?’
Server: Smiled and pointed to the furthest corner.
We were then followed to the table we chose. If he hadn’t been wearing a lanyard I’d have thought I’d mistaken a customer for an employee! The space, previously the Grill restaurant, has been transformed with a ‘relaxed, Californian vibe’ with tubs of cutlery, condiments and glasses on the table (there is complimentary infused water available) plus bright, fold out menus for the drinks and food. To be fair I could have eaten pretty much anything on the menu, the majority of it appealed to me and I was spoilt for choice. Drawing on popular South California dishes the menu definitely has an emphasis on breakfast, but these dishes could be eaten all day.
Our server came back and I asked if we could use an Entertainer on any items or if there were restrictions. He replied it could be used on burgers. I then clarified it couldn’t be used on sandwiches only burgers – this caused huge confusion. I was then told it could be used on ‘any item’. I chose the pan con chicharon – beef brisket sandwich with ‘slaw and sweet potato fries – and a ginger hibiscus lemonade. Greg, who is a burger fanatic, chose the Prime Time burger with a strawberry iced tea.
Despite the restaurant being very quiet it still felt comfortable and laid back. I’m not 100% convinced that the decor completely matches the space. I like the light, bright design with lots of natural light, murals, art and recycled plant pots but the hard, dark, formal wooden tables and chairs just fit the style. It would be much better with bright cushions on the chairs like the sofas, and the addition of table clothes. However, I imagine this decor, plus the fussball table and darts create quite a fun vibe when its busy. I also noticed books, newspapers, magazines and board games at the entrance, it is a place to kick back and relax. The outside space is lovely but sadly, even with the large shaded area, it was still very hot. I imagine it will be extremely popular in the cooler months.
Our food arrived in about 15 minutes and our eyes lit up! Greg’s burger was huge and came with a bread knife which was an indicator that, despite trying, he wouldn’t be able to eat it whole. He said the burger was delicious and cooked medium as requested. We had to make a chip barrier to stop the runny egg yolk dropping off the wooden slab! My sandwich was also really tasty. The beef brisket was so soft and tender and the salsa was sweet, tangy with just a little bit of heat and the crunchy ‘slaw was a nice contrast of textures. Again, it was quite difficult to eat as a sandwich so I ended up using a knife and fork. We both enjoyed our drinks too, the lemonade was refreshing with a nice hit of ginger and the iced tea wasn’t overly sweet.
We caught the attention of a different member of staff who cleared away our plates. I asked about using our Entertainer voucher but she didn’t seem confident how to use it so I showed her. Again, maybe more staff training is needed. Would I go back? Yes, we really enjoyed the food and there is a lot more on the menu that I’d like to try. The bright, rustic, vintage environment would make it a great place to visit with friends and it seemed to me to be very family friendly. They offer a Friday brunch so if you want to try a selection of dishes maybe this would be a good option and it’s something we’d consider going to. For me, SMBC has the foundations of a fun, up beat Cafe / restaurant but for us the service just wasn’t quite there. As it becomes more established I hope these small issues can be ironed out. We did received a very jovial, friendly ‘goodbye’ from the kitchen staff as we left so it did end on a positive note!
We paid 130QR for our food and drinks. We used an Entertainer voucher so the cheapest meal was free.
UPDATE 5th May 2017
This weekend we are having a staycation at the Grand Hyatt and thought we’d go for breakfast at SMBC. I’m really pleased to say that the service was soooooo much better. Friendly, professional and knowledgeable. I thought it was only fair to update the post!