First Taste

New Brunch at Coronado Cafe: Good-Looking Menu, But Some Technical Snags Trip Up the Meal

Restaurant: Coronado Café Location: 2201 North Seventh Street New Brunch Open: About two weeks Eats: Brunch favorites with a twist Price Point: Around $11 to $20 a person

Around the beginning of April, Coronado Café, the charming little bungalow turned eatery near the theater and arts district in Central Phoenix, picked up a new chef, Andrew Noelp. Noelp, whose résumé includes the Sanctuary Resort on Camelback Mountain and NoRTH, says his cooking style is "simple and sophisticated cuisine that is not overworked."

Along with refining the restaurant's flavor combinations and improving the presentations of its dishes, Noelp has also added some new specials to Coronado's brunch, which, as of a couple of weeks ago, is now offered on both Saturday and Sunday.

With a menu of brunch items such as a puffed pastry filled with scrambled eggs, Kahlua-seared French toast, and Nutella and banana crepes, there is enough variety and uniqueness in the dishes to find a favorite. And my friendly server was happy to point out some of the most popular dishes.

The first, an eggs Benedict featuring two poached eggs over toasted focaccia and topped with blue crab, avocado, and Hollandaise, was aptly called the Crabby Benedict ($12), and it certainly sounded lovely. Unfortunately, overcooked poached eggs, a sparse serving of crab, and two oversize pieces of focaccia, which required a knife to cut, didn't deliver on the mix of flavors I had hoped for.

A bay shrimp and chorizo egg soufflé ($12) with oven-dried tomato ragout, cilantro lime cream, and melted cheddar and jack cheeses fared better than the Benny. About the size of a cupcake, the soufflé seemed more suitable as an appetizer. The flavor blend of the tomato, chorizo, egg, and cheese was excellent, even more so when augmented with just a touch of the intense cilantro lime cream. But at 12 bucks, I expected more of the dish's main ingredient -- shrimp -- than I received. I counted just two tiny shrimp in my soufflé.

With the foundation of a nice-size menu with some interesting dishes, Coronado Café and chef Andrew Noelp have a head start on a great weekend brunch near downtown Phoenix. I'm confident that with some minor adjustments, their little bungalow will be filled with folks who agree.

Here's the menu:

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Laura Hahnefeld
Contact: Laura Hahnefeld