Just relaxing on an islet in the Caribbean

Sunday, February 19, 2012


In 1994, CIA graduate and former Newport Beach resident John Q. Humphreys became Chef/Owner of the historic Ramos House Café located in the Los Rios district of San Juan Capistrano. Chef “John Q” currently resides on the premises and has converted the original kitchen of the 1881 board and batten style home into a professional kitchen serving breakfast, brunch and lunch. All dishes are made from scratch utilizing fresh herbs and veggies from his garden.

As I rambled slowly towards the Ramos House Café, I stopped in the middle of the street, gazed around and admired the surrounding sights of the original mid-1700’s n
eighborhood. I visited the restaurant on a weekday arriving early for breakfast and came upon Chef John Q standing alone at the hostess stand. With complete confidence he stood in his comfy bedroom slippers and pajama pants at the entrance to Ramos House, which also happens to be his permanent home. Instantly, I felt at ease and my anticipation of the upcoming meal had subsided. After all, Chef John Q was extremely relaxed in his p.j.s and slippies…why not me?

The Bloody Mary…amazing! Mixed with Soju – a distilled alcoholic beverage traditionally made from rice - this cocktail is almost a complete meal! A meaty crab claw protrudes from the Mason jar as if reaching for the sky along with several marinated green beans which seem to stand at attention. Like a beacon on a hill, the perfect Scotch egg is placed majestically on top of the beverage. The boiled quail egg is wrapped with ground meat, rolled in bread crumbs then gently fried creating a crisp outer shell and drizzled with mild mustard vinaigrette. The drink is visually intriguing and delicious!

I have enjoyed many meals at Ramos House Café – breakfast and lunch – and have yet to be disappointed. A signature dish of Chef John is Crab Hash with Egg and Bacon
Scramble and Citrus Cream. A heap of scrambled eggs and thick bacon smother two bounteous crab cakes which are served with a generous scoop of thick citrus cream. A haystack of golden sweet potatoes have been spun into curly threads - thin, wispy and light with a crispy finish, they fare well with the soft scrambled eggs. I found this dish slightly tart and perfectly seasoned...delightful!

Homemade southern style buttermilk biscuits are one of my many weaknesses. The savory nuggets are moist inside and golden-crunchy outside. The flavor is subtle and not too sweet and served with a side of house made apple butter - a perfect pairing. The burlap table cloth, Mason jars and the fresh biscuits are reminiscent of a southern county meal.

I visited Ramos House on a quiet weekday and although there were less than 5 tables occupied and less than fifteen patrons service was very slow. The lovely setting amidst Chef John Q’s 130 year old home, majestic century old Mulberry tree, garden and the nostalgic tune of the train toot from the neighboring train station had me feeling wistful and mellow. With the end result of the dishes that arrived at my table, slow
service was no longer an issue…well worth the wait! Besides, “Mrs. Chubbs” one of the resident felines welcomed me with a gentle nudge and cat-like smirk. With fabulous food and magical setting, I sat back, relaxed and enjoyed myself.


The Ramos House Café on Urbanspoon
Open Tuesday through Sunday
8:30 – 3:00 (breakfast, brunch and lunch)
Wine, beer and mimosas served


1 comment:

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