Sam Reich is the executive producer of “Adam Ruins Everything,” a TV show the debunks common myths. And his production company is called Big Breakfast — with these two facts combined, we are not surprised that he has strongly-held opinions about morning meals. “I'm very pro-brunch. I like an early brunch, which I guess constitutes to a breakfast. But we just got a puppy and are raising a puppy, so our brunches are now like: We're up from seven on and brunch at ten sounds pretty good.”
The Los Feliz resident has a stable of brunch spots that comprise his favorites in the county, from vegan to dim sum. Here are Reich's top choices, from the adventurous to the family-friendly.
Dim sum — in all the decade that I was in New York — I was never a big fan of because it just seemed very redundant to me. Like a variety of different shapes and sizes of dumpling. That created for me this sort of heavy and redundant-feeling meal. I love Seafood Harbor because of the variety of what you can order there. You can try durian pastry there. You know durian, the really funky, awful smelling fruit? My relationship with food at this point is kind of — it takes a lot of adventure and it takes a remarkable experience to really engage me just because I've eaten so much. I only get off on the hard drugs at this point, I guess. So, durian pastry, by the way, not all that great. Truth be told. But, on the other hand, of course their traditional stuff like the barbecued pork buns are delicious and shrimp dumplings and all the stuff that you would normally find at a dim sum place. But also chicken with bitter melon is one of my favorite dishes there, it's just so sort of hearty and unusual and the sort of umami of the chicken plays off nicely with the sort of tang and bitterness of the melon. There's a salty egg bun which is just really soft and almost cotton candy-ish on the outside. And you open it up and there's this gooey, just barely cooked through egg on the inside. It's sort of salty and almost a little bit sugary tasting and it's just delicious.
Well, I feel almost hack for saying this, but I'm a huge Jon and Vinny fan, a huge Ludo fan, and it's crazy the number of restaurants they have around town at this point, but when I first arrived in L.A., Son of a Gun was my favorite go-to restaurant in the whole city. Petit Trois and obviously Trois Mec too are both amazing. As I understand it, this is their third collaboration as a trio? It's this really cool mix of French and Mexican and breakfast. I mean, the restaurant isn't open for dinner, right? Which is, I think, daring for a restaurant. But it's such good fusion food. The potato tacos, I think, are my favorite thing on the menu. The beet tartare is incredible. It's like a dish based on a pun that just happens to work incredibly well. What I do when I go is I order the French toast and I say, “Can that come out last?” and then it's like a breakfast dessert. And it's like a cinnamon-y French toast with a scoop of ice cream on top, and it's the perfect indulgence.
I think it's been on Eater's 38 for almost as long as it's been open. Which is also impressive for a breakfast place. It's funny, I went a lot when it first opened and I go less since, because the crowds are so intimidating. After moving from New York, it's like why I'm in L.A. is in order to avoid crowds. But the food is out of this world. I went first for the brioche toast with jam, which is amazing and everybody gets. I've since graduated to the sorrel pesto rice bowl, this beautiful, beautiful composed dish with a bunch of unusual ingredients. I think there's Meyer lemon in there somewhere, it's just no one ingredient you would list out of that dish and say, “This belongs in a breakfast dish.” And yet it works so well. I actually remade it at home and it's only exactly 50% as good, but still really good. I also get turmeric tonic when I'm there, which is this bright sort of orange drink that's not orange juice but tastes really sharply of turmeric and makes me feel healthier for drinking, even though it might just be psychosomatic or something.
I guess the classic, classic brunch was obviously just a diner brunch; I think of [Square One] as being sort of the perfect California brunch place. It's a little bit on the healthier side of things, they use very fresh ingredients, it's the perfect place for an asparagus omelet with goat cheese. They have great pancakes and French toast as well. They have a great outdoor patio. But yeah, it's just all of those kind of boxes checked. I would probably never take some of my less adventurous family to a place like Sea Harbour. On the other hand, they'd probably love Square One.
I've only been there like twice or three times, but I really, really like it. It's very healthy and light. I think it was born out of a catering business originally. For someone who's not gluten-free or vegan, it's delicious regardless. So if I have a gluten-free or vegan or vegetarian friend who wants to get brunch, it's totally a go-to. They have a TLT, the first T stands for tempeh, lettuce, tomato sandwich, which is my go-to, and really, really good. Also the moros cakes are delicious.
The new season of “Adam Ruins Everything” premieres Oct. 25 at 10 p.m.