‘Body Butter,” says the sample the guy’s handing out. “Free application,” he says. “Step inside.”
So La Jolla.
“Not now,” I say. Truth is, I’m desperate for brekky. And also, I wanna to try this place I’ve heard about. Has a, uh, breakfast salad.
So I carry on down Girard in the beautiful morning sun. (In the shady parts, this street’s cooler than a Nantucket ice bucket.) Now heading down to where Girard plunges to sea level. Blue wall of ocean lifts up before you. And it looks like one of the best patios to catch it from is this breakfast salad place, Cody’s.
8030 Girard Avenue, La Jolla
Hmm. Crossing Girard. Like what I see. The house, the patios, and that ocean! One huge topaz saucer. A trawler scratches a white scar across it.
Plus they have a sandwich board on the sidewalk: “Voted Best Restaurant in the…” And they have a chalk picture of the world.
“We may have exaggerated,” says Amanda, the receptionista. She leads me down to the lower deck. The house itself is an old, gray converted shingle and brick family home. They have an inside room with a bar, but outside is where it’s at. Feels almost cantilevered over the ocean.
I sit down under one of the, okay, gray umbrellas (coordinated to be as dull as the housepaint, I guess). But there’s an international vibe here. One table’s speaking German, another French and Arabic, another Spanish, and the coffee this guy Alex brings me is Hawaiian. Kona. Costs $4.50, but endless refills.
The menu’s on one plastic page. “AM/PM fare served all day,” it starts off. Good news. It’s past twelve already.
Guy next door’s ordering “Cody’s Burger.” Patrick, here with his wife Wendy, celebrating their seventh anniversary. I check my menu for Cody’s Burger. “Grass-fed beef, aged white cheddar, arugula, onion jam, fancy sauce, $15,” it says. “Add bacon or egg, $2.” For $14 they have a veggie burger with quinoa and brown rice. Wendy orders two fish tacos for, wow, $16. But they come with a bowl of chili “served with charro beans.” And that’s cheap compared to the most expensive item on the menu: lobster roll with fries and coleslaw, $27.
So, hey, prices. But holiday mood’s taking over. And I still have some jingle from payday. Looking for the breakfast salad I’d heard about. Breakfast salad? You know this can mean only one thing: there’s an egg on top.
And thar she blows. “Healthy breakfast salad: spinach, market greens, Sonoma chevre, mushrooms, asparagus, zucchini, tomatoes.” It comes topped with a lemon basil vinaigrette and yes, two poached eggs.
Of course, they have the whole panoply of breakfast plates, from the “All American” with eggs and spuds or grits, for $13, to Benedict ($17), to chicken and eggs and sausage gravy and biscuit ($16), to crab cake ($22).
I’m about to order the breakfast salad when my eye catches the “starters” column. “Crab and Corn Chowder,” it says, “garnished with bacon and chives.” Six bucks for a cup, $11 for a bread bowl.
“I’ll start with that bread bowl,” I say. “Filling enough for breakfast?”
“Should be,” says Alex.
And actually, it’s not just a cheaper choice on the menu, it’s delicious, and does go a long way to filling ye old spare tire. And it comes with a surprise: an actual giant east coast Jonah crab claw reaching out from under the bread bowl lid. Looks like one of those trick arms that creep out and snap back. This one’s also holding onto a little fork. And the pair of nutcrackers you get say there’s actual meat inside.
The chowder’s scrumptious, but the main reason I’d come back for this is the Bread and Cie bread bowl. The dark-tanned crust is crunchy, savory, and with the chowder flavoring its insides, it’s the best surprise of the day. Specially when you get the flavor-bursts of corn kernels you pop with your teeth. And the lemon and chunks of bacon and chopped chives on top twang the flavor up nicely.
The crab claw? I have to fess up to Alex that I ain’t that cool. I’ll send claw chips everywhere. He cracks it for me. Nice (even though I’ve always been underwhelmed at the amount of meat you get from claws and legs).
But the bread bowl? I could go on tearing down its walls all day. Except, one, I’m drinking too much of their free-refill Kona, and two, I’ve gone crazy and ordered the breakfast salad ($14).
The salad’s… okay. Good for us? Check. Interesting? Not really. The egg idea adds more to the color than the flavor. And flavor’s a little watery. Maybe the lettuce scare has limited their options here to spinach. The chevre goat cheese saves the day somewhat, but I coulda done with a bit more umami. It’s the bread from the crab and corn chowder bowl that saves it.
But it has been fun. Yeah, expensive for a country boy like me, but I totally enjoyed eating with the Beautiful People.
So I’m heading for the #30 bus. Pass the Living Room at 1010 Prospect. Sun’s on its patio. Figure I’ll warm up with one more cawfee. Down the steps, get transfixed by luscious-looking fruit tartlets. Cost $5.99 each. What the heck. Get one, plus a small coffee ($2.69). So ten bucks. Take it to the patio, sit among groups of women speaking lively Arabic, next to a couple drinking wine and smoking hubble-bubbles. But, oh man. Be still, my heart. These fruits (whole shiny strawberries, blueberries, peach, grapes, kiwi), plus a layer of custard on the crumbly pastry, make this the perfect ending to the whole La Jolla experience.
Only thing left: my free smearing of body butter?
The Place: Cody’s La Jolla, 8030 Girard Avenue, La Jolla, 858-459-0040
Hours: 8am – 3pm, daily
Prices: “All American Breakfast,” (eggs, potatoes or grits), $13; Eggs Benedict ($17); crab cake Benedict, $22; chilaquiles, $15; chicken, fried egg, sausage gravy, biscuit, $16; crab and corn chowder, $6 (cup), $11 (in bread bowl); Cody’s Burger (patty, cheddar, jam, sauce), $15; veggie burger (quinoa, brown rice), $14; fish tacos plus chili bowl, $16; lobster roll, fries, coleslaw, $27; breakfast salad (with poached eggs), $14; granola, $13
Nearest Bus Stop: Silverado and Herschel