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The Early Bird gets the chilaquiles

August 21, 2012|By S. Irene Virbila | Restaurant Critic
  • Brunch menu at chef/owner Joseph Mahon's new Fullerton breakfast and lunch spot.
Brunch menu at chef/owner Joseph Mahon's new Fullerton breakfast… (S. Irene Virbila / Los Angeles…)

Joseph Mahon, the last chef at the now shuttered Bastide in West Hollywood, has turned up in north Orange County, in Fullerton. At first, he was running a pop-up burger joint downtown. Now he’s got himself a wide-awake spot on Bastanchury Road where he’s packing in the locals in for breakfast and lunch.

At Early Bird, he’s serving up delicious egg dishes, griddle cakes and more in a big loft-like room washed in natural light. Families sit patiently waiting for a table. Waiters are warm, but somewhat overwhelmed by the crowd on the Saturday I stop in for brunch. The kitchen is a blur of action seen through a high opening.

Single-origin coffee comes dark-roasted and strong. That day it was from a farm in Rwanda. There are freshly squeezed juices, too. A quirky Frank Floyd eggs Benedict could easily feed two—twin stacks of farm-fresh egg, smoked salmon and roasted spinach on a portobello mushroom instead of an English muffin. The textbook perfect bearnaise is a dead giveaway that Mahon has spent years honing his craft in some of the country’s top kitchens.

His breakfast dishes aren’t fancy, but they’re made with fresh ingredients and cooked with skill. Chilaquiles steak and eggs is delicious, too, the tortilla strips cooked in ancho chile sauce. Order thick rafts of dark crispy bacon on the side. You can get three eggs any way you like them, inventive omelets,  a morning pizza topped with two sunny side up eggs, fluffy griddle cakes or waffles with freshly whipped cream and berries.

The menu reads like it was written by someone who really loves breakfast. Weekend brunch adds sandwiches, including a BLT and a Philly cheesesteak, duck confit hash and salads embellished with fried chicken or market vegetables.

Open a month, the place has been discovered. At least on the weekends, if you want a table right away, you’re going to have to be an early bird.

Early Bird, 1000 B E. Bastanchury Road, Fullerton, (714) 529-4100,; Open 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.

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