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RESTAURANTS

Brunch sans buffet

There's a place for lavish buffet brunches, but often they seem more about quantity than quality. Sometimes all you want are some killer pancakes or eggs made to order.

November 03, 2005|Leslee Komaiko

M Cafe de Chaya

Don't be scared off by the macrobiotic label. The food at this 4-month-old eatery, sibling to the Chaya restaurants, is hearty, satisfying and artfully presented. Consider the golden French toast studded with cranberries and walnuts and served with a tart 'n' sweet cranberry compote. There's also a swell tofu scramble accompanied by sweet potato hash, grilled bread and house-made ketchup.

* French toast, $7.75; scramble, $8.95. 7119 Melrose Ave., L.A.; (323) 525-0588.

More Than Waffles

Amid a sea of chains, this mom and pop style eatery stands out. And though you can order something other than waffles -- an omelet or breakfast burrito perhaps -- the Belgian waffles are the main attraction and can be ordered with myriad toppings.

* Waffles, $4.75 to $7.45. 17200 Ventura Blvd., Encino; (818) 789-5937.

Duke's

There's no need to dress up for brunch at this iconic Sunset Strip diner, where the walls are lined with head shots of B-actors and musicians. In fact, the look of most of the patrons, at least on weekend mornings, might best be described as "morning after." The banana pancakes are excellent and the Monte Cristo sandwich deliciously decadent.

* Pancakes, $5.95; Monte Cristo $6.95. 8909 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood; (310) 652-3100.

Axe

We love the big, sleek picnic tables at this stylish hangout -- and the brunch menu. The nine-grain pancake has many a loyalist. But we usually go for the poached egg paired with earthy stewed greens, smoky bacon and crispy potatoes.

* Pancake, $8; poached egg, $12. 1009 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice; (310) 664-9787.

The Hungry Cat

We can think of few things better than greeting Sunday morning with a delicious Bloody Mary and the "crabby Benedict" made with chunks of Dungeness crab meat and Nueske bacon at this modern fish house. For those who don't do breakfast, there's a fine lobster roll as well as the signature "pug" burger available with or without a fried egg.

* Bloody Mary, $7; crabby Benedict, $16; lobster roll, $22; burger, $14. 1535 N. Vine, Hollywood; (323) 462-2155.

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-- Leslee Komaiko

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