Our quest for a better brunch continues over in South OC, as we drop by a familiar space in Laguna. Once Sorrento Grille, then Three Seventy Common, it’s now the home of Harley Laguna Beach. Named after the grandpa of Greg Daniels (formerly of Haven in Old Towne Orange), their corner location is within strolling distance of downtown’s bustle. Brunch is relatively new here, from their initial weekend offerings to the time we dined here, exactly one week later, there were already multiple updates to the menu. Expect a work in progress as they gradually refine their Saturday and Sunday selections.
Bagel and Lox
Normally, ordering lox with our bagel means luscious, pinkish-orange slices of savory fish. Here, it resembles more of a tartare, allowing equal opportunity in each bite for that salty goodness, thanks to chorizo flavored spices. Black bean cream cheese is the binder for a helping of avocado, tomato and hint of cilantro. For maximum impact, they recruit an iconic everything bagel made by the crew at Crema Artisan Bakery. It is a updated twist on a classic bite.
Often overlooked in the brunch realm of Benedictions and pancakes, Team Daniels present a vessel of steel cut oats with depth. It’s less about the berry trio, more the Columbian, single-origin dark chocolate known as Cordillera. A pool of heavy cream and generous pinch of raw brown sugar smooth things out. It took a certain amount of willpower to refrain from licking the bowl.
Drop Biscuits and Gravy
If you refer to our opening photo, the third dish offered less personality to photograph, yet still delivered on taste. Paper mâché-dense sausage gravy stuck to our ribs in a “made with love” kind of way. Dollops of biscuit dough are submerged throughout, making each spoonful a lottery for chewy, buttermilk nuggets. Chives are the scissors-friendly garnish when parsley isn’t quite cutting it for a color upgrade and bit of flavor. This is equally as share-worthy as our oatmeal; the savory to its sweet.
Cava is the single ingredient, secret weapon in Harley’s arsenal. Presentation is everything in our selfie-worthy beverage we haven’t found promoted elsewhere– yet. We engaged in a round of Chambong with chef, who explained how he discovered this eye-catching glassware. Balance your beverage carefully, so as not to spill its precious cargo, covering the narrow end until you’re ready. If you aren’t downing the cava all at once, you’re not fully experiencing the bubbly. We did the Chambong early on to whet our appetites, priming us for the rest of brunch.
Honorable mentions: Meat and Potatoes
From their list of sides, there were a couple that stood out. First, a Kennebec Hash Brown. Imagine the crispy potatoes when ordering a breakfast platter at McDonald’s. Then imagine them bigger, crisper and tastier. It was divine. A duo of patties formed out of Stemple Creek Grass Fed Beef caught our eye as a rare alternative to everything pork on a weekend brunch menu. We would’ve been a-okay pulling up to the bar for potatoes, meat and Chambong by ourselves. But brunch is a reminder that it’s always a better meal when shared.
Harley Laguna Beach is at 370 Glenneyre St., (949) 715-1530; www.harleylagunabeach.com.
A contributing writer for OC Weekly, Anne Marie freelances for multiple online and print publications, and guest judges for culinary competitions. A Bay Area transplant, she graduated with a degree in Hospitality Management from Cal Poly Pomona. Find her on Instagram as brekkiefan.