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Malibu Brunch Escape

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While I love breakfast, I'm not really a fan of brunch. The concept of it is great. Getting your choice to eat breakfast way past lunchtime on a lazy weekend morning is a treat and sometimes a necessity, depending on the excesses of the night before. However, the cost is often a joke for merely gussied up eggs and pancakes, even when accompanied by bottomless mimosas. The buffet even worse, since we really shouldn't be chowing down "all-you-can-eat" and why would you want to when it's not made freshly for you? There's nothing worse than stiff, overcooked, yet lukewarm food.

Since I make a mean breakfast burrito, we usually only eat out on the weekends when we're out of town and lacking a kitchen. If I'm going to bother getting dressed, I want the excursion to be worth the trouble. To go out in Los Angeles, not only do we require great food that won't break the bank, but a location that makes us feel like we're on vacation. We found a place that fit the bill this past Sunday - The Malibu Cafe on Calamigos Ranch in Malibu.

Granted, if a friend of ours didn't work there, we'd still be in the dark about this place. While the cafe has only been open since last October, the Calamigos Ranch has been host to conferences, weddings and every other type of celebration (as well as a popular local filming venue) for over 60 years. Who knew this 130-acre wonderland existed in the Malibu mountains? Apparently every other Angeleno we talked to. Clearly, we don't get out much.

With it's tucked away location just off of Kanan Dune Road and Mulholland Drive, we initially got a bit lost, but that just added to the sense of adventure. Once we arrived at the Ranch, the waterfalls and greenery made the stress of the drive disappear. The actual cafe is located above the property's lake and is all open air seating, with two large Plasma TVs above the long bar on one side, and a wide expanse of lawn along the other. I couldn't help but wonder what they do when it rains. Thankfully for them, that should rarely be a problem. There are cabanas with a clear view of the lake where you can kick back, order some munchies and a bottle of wine (their list features many local Malibu bottles) and just chill.

The regular menu is available for brunch as well as six egg dishes, two flavors of pancakes and Mascarpone Stuffed French Toast. I was all in when I saw they had Lobster Eggs Benedict. Am a sucker for any type of Benedict, since I just love anything covered in sauce. This was truly decadent with plenty of perfectly cooked lobster over an English Muffin that was toasted just enough, and a hollandaise sauce spiked with dill that made the dish taste fresher and lighter than the usual versions. The Man ordered the 3 + 3 + 3 (eggs, sausage and bacon) that came with a spicy "diablo" sauce. We have no idea what was in it, but it was so addictive he skipped the ketchup, which never happens. I even ate all the potatoes, something I rarely do. I liked that they were a mix of hash browns and crispy chunks. We wanted to try something off the regular menu, so we ordered The Haas Avocado Egg Rolls. Totally unnecessary, but super delicious. The fact that our food arrived within 20 minutes of our sitting down was miraculous for service in Los Angeles.

The Malibu Cafe is not exactly a place you can just drop into; however, the food and atmosphere make the extra effort worth the trip. I predict we will be spending many hours on their deck this summer enjoying their hand-crafted cocktails, fresh fare and lush atmosphere. A great way to escape the noise of the city without actually leaving it.

-- By Lisa Dinsmore