Bay House brings gourmet attention to straightforward dishes.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
Look no further than the fruit. Here—in artful and fresh detail—lies the colorful proof of Bay House’s commitment to quality. On my first visit the kiwi, strawberry, raspberry, pineapple, blueberries and bananas fanned out attractively beside my sturdy burger. I was surprised at the selection and careful arrangement—this was not haphazard honeydew with one or two token strawberries. On my second visit, local scribe Adam modeled the same pleasantly shocked response at the painter’s palette of fruit, saying, “This cook is a Cubist.” On my most recent visit, my pal JC was as happy as I’ve seen him over a breakfast plate.
But the fruit is merely the most striking example of how much chef-owner Jose Pacheco invests in the preparation of each meal here. All three reasonably priced plates I tried at his under-the-radar hideout on Fremont in Seaside were crafted with care.
While the quality of the preparation is important at any new restaurant, it’s slightly more critical here for a few reasons. The storefront and atmosphere—while neat and clean and accented by fresh roses on each table—won’t have anyone rushing in. The single room is square and populated with plain white tabletops with wooden chairs, plus some squeeze-tight booths. Bay House is also tucked out of the way in a strip mall next to the American Legion on the northern end of Fremont. And the menu—while offering a very complete breakfast lineup (eggs, omelets, waffles, banana pecan pancakes and more) and a range of burgers and sandwiches—isn’t terribly sexy.
But the grub is truly good. The House Burger (with soup, country potatoes, fries or fruit, $7.75) is seasoned just right, and juicy enough to soften the toasted bottom bun and my hard heart. Fresh sautéed mushrooms and onions and melted jack—plus ripe avocado—made it an embarrassment of edible riches. My colleague Pavo loved the tall stack of roasted bell peppers, tomatoes, avocado, onions, sprouts and toasted wheat bread on his Veggie Sandwich ($6.75 with choice of side).
As we left, we got a chance to meet the eager and earnest owner. He told us of his plans to add a combo Mexican and American dinner menu—the updated due date is two weeks away, now that he has obtained his beer and wine license. And while the place was empty for us, he told us it’s hard to get a seat for the weekend breakfast blitz.
For visit two, I tested the breakfast, albeit during the lunch hour. I stuck with the house special theme with the Bay House Plate ($7.95). It starred six “Jesse Cakes,” thin silver-dollar-sized pancakes that won me over with their unconventional spongy texture, which was as pleasing as their flavor. Their slenderness allowed me to enjoy the balance of the meal (three eggs, two crisp strips of bacon and two pieces of sausage) without necessitating an afternoon nap.
Around the table Adam gawked over his burger and fruit, my colleague Buck dug his Club Sandwich ($7.25) and young caddie Derek loved the thick patty, sautéed onions and melted Swiss of the first Patty Melt ($7.25) of his life.
My order for an early morning round three (Bay House opens at 6:30am) was easy. Despite the temptation of one of five specialty Eggs Benedicts (turkey avocado, lox ‘n’ onion, Florentine, artichoke crown or mushroom-tomato-avocado, $7.95-$8.95), I had a good thing going with the house specials, so it was the Bay House Omelette ($7.75) for me, fruit for JC ($5.50). Pacheco was the only guy besides us there at 7:30am, and he had the dishes out in 10 minutes.
The lightly browned omelet came with sour cream and salsa on top and revealed a superb ensemble of chorizo, avocado, tomato, onion and jack cheese within: the avocado was somehow still fresh, though cooked inside, the chorizo enjoyed mellow spice and delicious flavor, and the jack melted out of the belly of the thick omelet. The big plate was completed by toast and a big helping of country potatoes—which were moist, ungreasy and flavorful.
I would’ve ordered the fruit in place of the potatoes, but was driven by my duty to research more of the menu—and JC promised me some of his handsome bowl of high-end berries and such.
I got none—the fruit disappeared before I could get a fork
in edgewise. Here’s hoping this place sticks around
a whole lot longer.
BAY HOUSE RESTAURANT
1988 Fremont Blvd., Seaside • 6:30am-3pm Tue-Sat; 7am-2:30pm Sun. • 899-9922.