Dec. 12 2014 05:47 PM

East Village joint's brunch menu reimagines the classics

Table No. 10’s Masa Benedict
Mina Riazi

My late grandfather, stubbornly devoted to his usual breakfast of thick-sliced ham, sunny-side-up eggs and hash browns, would find the brunch menu at Table No. 10 aggravating. He'd wonder aloud why smoked pork belly accompanies the farm eggs and why the donuts at the newly opened East Village joint (369 10th Ave.) are injected with coffee. The whole fun of it, he might say, is taking the warm pastry between your thumb and forefinger and dragging it through a cup of joe. 

Located in a nearly century-old former Carnation milk factory, Table No. 10 has all the trappings of a restaurant that even I—an iPhone-wielding Millennial hungry for Instagram-photo ops—might initially reject. Studio Simic, a design firm regularly featured in San Diego Home and Garden magazine, fashioned an interior that's annoyingly impeccable. The restaurant website describes it as "freshly nostalgic"—which ranks pretty high up there on the list of "Most Pretentious Things a Restaurant Has Ever Said About Itself." 

Needless to say, Table No. 10 is no place I would ever have dared drag my diner-loving grandpa. Co-owned by Executive Chef Jason Gethin and restaurateur Cooper McLaughlin, the restaurant offers a menu brimming with innovative spins on time-tasted favorites. 

Take the breakfast chilaquiles. Two 64-degree eggs—slow-cooked in their shells in a water bath of 64 degrees Celsius—replace the usual fried or scrambled ones. The whites flaunt a pudding-like consistency offset by a silky-firm yolk. Then, hiding beneath a generous pile of crisp-yet-limp tortilla pieces, you'll discover another unexpected addition: duck confit. The salty duck beautifully complements the buttery, unseasoned eggs. Salsa verde, shaved raw onion and avocado complete the breakfast dish. 

Table No. 10 updates another breakfast classic with its coffee-soaked donuts. The pillowy, square-ish, two-bite pastries are injected with a shot of coffee. Bite into the donut and you'll discover a bullet-shaped coffee stain; the bitter coffee counteracts the sweet icing, creating a dangerously addictive pastry.  

The most memorable dish on Table No. 10's menu, though, is the Masa Benedict—another reimagining of a familiar breakfast item. A pair of thick, corn-flour cakes replaces the standard English muffin or slab of toasted bread. Smoked brisket tops the poached eggs, and a charred onion hollandaise provides the finishing touches. It's a sturdy, well-rounded dish, with each element harmonizing together almost perfectly. The corn-flour cakes flaunt a crisply chewy texture that's spectacular; the brisket pieces are consistently tender, never stringy and tough. 

The grits rounded out my brunch. Shrimp and spicy linguica sausage richen the Anson Mills grits, and roasted tomato gravy concludes the hearty dish. 

For a place that I assumed was another fashionable addition to San Diego's culinary scene—a restaurant that looked great and lured in tourists but dished out uninspired fare—Table No. 10 really surprised me. The food reflects an uncommon precision and thoughtfulness. Aside from brunch, the eatery offers a dinner menu of small and large plates. Standouts include parmesan risotto and a "lazy" ravioli filled with braised suckling pig. I will be back.

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