My two favorite things - brunch and weekend dine-outs with the family. So with the few precious days we had together, we spent back-to-back days brunching at popular cafes in "downtown" Walla Walla. I thought it would be fun to have a "brunchowdown" (i.e. brunch showdown) and it actually just all came together while I was looking at my photos. Goes to show, we are kind of consistent with what we love to eat! On Memorial Day, we went to this old-fashioned, award-winning diner, called "Clarette's," and on the following day, we headed down to "Maple Counter Cafe" which is a little more modern and had a "younger" crowd (including the staff - who wore the most fashionable outfits). So here it is, my brunchowdown - photos on the left are from Clarette's and on the right are from Maple Counter:
Coffee vs. Coffee (Winner: Maple Counter)
Why? Coffee is darker, nuttier (has that "jolt" or "kick" or whatever you call it that keeps you awake), and didn't taste like it was too watered down, which is typical in refillable breakfast coffees.
Mushroom Skillet vs. Mushroom Omelette (Winner: Draw)
It's obvious, I love mushrooms. The winner in the skillet: it had English muffins and over-easy eggs underneath the gooey cheesy sauce. The winner in the omelette: the creamy bechamel sauce, plus the omelette itself which was baked so it was light and fluffy, and not greasy.
Corned Beef Hash vs. Corned Beef Sandwich (a.k.a. "The Reuben")
There's no winner here, because they could not be compared - one's an American, the other's an Irish (I think). It was an interesting way of plating the corned beef hash like a patty - and I liked that the top was a little bit toasted. The Reuben... you can't go wrong with this sandwich: corned beef and sauerkraut on rye, yummy. My dad's only complaint was it had too much sauerkraut, which was definitely sour!
Strawberry Shortcake vs. Apple Pancake (Winner: Clarette's Strawberry Shortcake)
Why? Generous serving of strawberry preserve, which was not soggy at all; in fact, they're award-winning (so they say - and I am not surprised)! Plus, I love the saltiness of the biscuit and how it complemented the sweet/fruity goodness of the strawberries and the richness of the whipped cream. I had this during our last visit, and it certainly had a lasting impression, so we didn't let this opportunity pass! The apple pancakes were also quite good, and very similar to what The Original Pancake House has on their menu.
French Toast vs. Pancakes (Winner: Maple Counter's Pancakes)
I did get to try Clarette's pancakes, but it was nothing special - similar to IHOP actually. I think their french toast was much better, and it was actually made of french bread (a little more appropriate, don't you think?). BUT, comparing with just the pancake "sides" in Maple Counter, the latter is a clear winner. It's what I call the "yeast-taste" factor. Definitely fresh.
Ambiance (winner: Maple Counter)
Clarette's, though homey, can be quite creepy and stuffy with old-fashioned paintings and drapes. Maple Counter had a cool, modern, country vibe going on. And had high ceilings, which I love.
The winner of the brunchowdown? No doubt, the Maple Counter Cafe.