Early Bird is a breakfast and lunch spot from Chef Joseph Mahon, who was manning the kitchen of Michelin-starred Bastide in West Hollywood before it closed early last year. After his time at Bastide, he was holding a permanent burger pop-up in the form of Burger Parlor in Fullerton, which spawned from his famous Burger Mondays during his time at the French restaurant. While he was moving the pop-up to a brick-and-mortar restaurant nearby (which opened recently – post to follow shortly), he spent the downtime opening this upscale diner of sorts. To say that this was Mahon’s Chungking Express while he was taking a break from Ashes of Time, I am not, but Early Bird is quite the masterpiece for a breakfast joint in the OC.
I came here last month for brunch with the entire Diaz family + Jen for Greg’s birthday. Greg has been a vocal supporter of Mahon’s since his first bite of the burgers at Burger Parlor (which I take credit for in guiding him there after reading about it online). The menu is short and sweet, with less than a couple dozen of options fairly evenly split between sweet and savory. It’s a pretty well-constructed menu, but one item immediately caught my eye: Teemu’s Duck Confit Hash (no doubt named after the Finnish hockey legend). Yeah it’s duck confit, arguably the most outplayed ingredient in restaurants currently, but I’ve been in love with it before it went all Hollywood, when I knew it as “Chinese dry cured duck leg.” The portion here isn’t big, but it’s quite glorious – perfectly fried eggs sunny side up, nice chucks of duck confit, and a nice rendition of home fries that included some golden raisins, which helped balance out the saltiness from the duck. Definitely California Dreamin’ for some more.
Chris Hei grade: B+
1000 B E Bastanchury Rd
Fullerton, CA 92835