Breakfast with Belle

In case you missed it, here’s my review of brunch at Carmel Belle that appeared in Thursday’s Go! section of the Monterey Herald. I’ll be reposting my reviews and stories from my weekly column for the Herald here on my blog along with extra photos that didn’t appear in print.

I’m not normally one to stir early for breakfast, but after the not-so-dulcet tones of the announcer for the Pacific Grove Triathlon woke me up at an ungodly hour on Sunday morning, I found myself escaping the chaos of beachfront Pacific Grove and meeting up with a friend for brunch at Carmel Belle.

I’m a big Belle fan — I love their lunchtime selections of sandwiches, salads and charcuterie. But I found myself in new territory this time. I arrived before 11 a.m. — and before the lunchtime menu was available. It was a blessing in disguise, I realized, as it forced me to branch out into their breakfast menu.

Carmel Belle's infamous polenta lured us into Carmel and away from the chaos of the PG Triathlon.

My friend and I decided to divide and conquer: We each ordered polenta and a sandwich.

I ordered a half-bowl of polenta ($5), with all the fixin’s — a poached egg, truffled mushrooms, goat cheese and roasted tomatoes ($4 extra).

The polenta was the perfect canvas for savory additions, like a poached egg and truffled mushrooms.

The polenta was a little soupy, but very flavorful. It’s a perfect canvas for a savory breakfast. The egg, cheese and veggies looked beautiful atop the creamy white polenta. The mushrooms were, of course, my favorite. What can I say, I’m a sucker for anything truffled!

And speaking of truffled mushrooms, how could I resist the mushroom melt? With mushrooms, truffle oil and Gouda over country toast, it’s my favorite of Carmel Belle’s lunchtime offerings.

Just when I didn't think the mushroom melt could get any better, it does. The secret: perfectly poached eggs.

The breakfast version ($11) is topped with two poached eggs, which added a nice balance to the earthy mushrooms.

A decadent sandwich with bacon, avocado and egg. Probably not the heart-healthiest way to start the day, but everything in moderation, right?

I snuck a bite of my friend’s egg, bacon and avocado sandwich ($11). The salty bacon, buttery avocado, bitter arugula and gooey egg yolk combined for a rich and decadent breakfast.

Nestled inside Doud Craft Studios, Carmel Belle isn’t much for atmosphere — it’s a little like a glorified food court, to be entirely honest. But it’s certainly one of the most sophisticated breakfast and lunch stops in town.

Carmel Belle is inside Doud Craft Studios, at the corner of San Carlos and Ocean in Carmel. 624-1600.

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