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Jennings House Café: munching wine and sandwiches in a big old Victorian with a patio deck

Late breakfast on the oldest street

Jeff and Tig
Jeff and Tig

Announcing a new gastronomic experience! A taste sensation you drink! A… OK. Here’s how it happened.

Place

Jennings House Cafe

1018 Rosecrans Street, San Diego

I’m in Point Loma. Jes’ walking southwest down Rosecrans. Past the Dick & Jane Waxing Salon, and past, oh yeah: big old Victorian with a patio deck out front. “Jennings House Café,” says the sign. “Est. 1886. Beer & Wine.” Painted cream with smoky blue window frames. A big old sycamore tree sprouts up through the deck. Blackboard sandwich board on the sidewalk says “Welcome. Breakfast all day.”

Fruit really lifts this late brekky dish. Good bread helps

The fact that it’s 5:30 at night makes this news important. I’m starving. Nuttin’ all day. I know. Bad habit. Whatever, I’m up the steps like a beachmaster on heat, and kinda crash into a butter-colored sitting room. Lots of black, wooden, old-fashioned chairs and tables, some with spare cushions that just invite you to stick them under your head and take a nap. Students laptop away. From Point Loma Nazarene University, I’m betting. Back wall glints with square glass tea jars. Plus they have bookshelves with actual books, and ancient black and white pics. One has men and a woman in 1890 at Cabrillo lighthouse, drinking wine and munching on sandwiches, looking tipsily happy.

Behind the counter, two students for sure. Jeff and Tig.

“Breakfast?” I ask. “Still?”

Patio and two floors of rooms. No excuse to not finish that assignment!

“Absolutely,” says Jeff. He just points me to the menu. Hmm. Egg breakfast with a three-egg scramble, toast and fruit cost $8.95. A breakfast burrito with scrambled eggs, black beans, bacon and cheese, with salsa and fruit, $10.95. The “Point Loma” is scrambled eggs, bacon, cheese, avocado, on a toasted croissant, plus salsa and fruit, $10.95. Granola, $7.95, or a simple bowl of fruit, $6.95.

Ooh. And I notice a “side biscuit with sausage gravy.” Only $4.50. The full two-biscuit plate plus fruit is $8.95. Add eggs, $11.95. Or, for one more dollar you can get a “breakfast combo,” which is a half order of French toast with berries, then two eggs (scrambled or poached) plus bacon or sausage. But I end up going for the Meat Lover’s Scramble: three eggs scrambled with Swiss cheese, bacon, turkey, and sausage, plus toast and fruit (also $12.95).

I order coffee ($2.75 for 16 ounces), and I’m just heading out and down the steps to the patio when I get to thinking — wondering how a glass of, well, wine would go with a sunset breakfast like this. Have a few spare shekels, night off tonight, so what da heck? I order the house red blend, ($7), and down the steps into the last rays of Auld Huey.

Partee! Just a few doors down, but in 1890.

It’s a good spot to check life on the street below. You’re looking out from one of the oldest houses in Point Loma onto Rosecrans, oldest street in San Diego, they say. Was the 101, used by bullock carts heading north towards L.A. And before that, right here at Ballast Point, is where Cabrillo himself came ashore that day in 1542.

Jeff brings it all out to the deck pretty quick. Oh man. Plenty of good steaming chunks of meat in the scramble. Lot of sausage taste. Splotting Cholula on them wakes your mouth up. And a good array of fruit – melon, pineapple, orange, blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries – freshens your mouth every now and then.

And with the toast and chunks of meat, that wine goes pretty good. It’s nice for seven bucks. “Line 39,” Pinot Noir, 2016.

But the breakthrough? It happens with the coffee. Brand is called “Cura,” and it comes from a co-op in Nicaragua. This cafe sends money from each cup of coffee they sell, to help give free dentistry to the community down there. Pretty cool.

Winey brekky? Try anything once.

The second thing I discover here is that if you want to get your biggest buzz from a coffee, go for the light roast, not the dark. Dark has more flavor, light has more caffeine. Who knew?

And the third thing? It starts when Jeff makes some crack as he’s putting the Cholula hot sauce on the table. “To go with your hot coffee,” he says.

That gets me thinking: “Well, why not make my coffee really hot? Spicy hot as well as temperature hot!” I shake a few long dollops of Cholula into my half-full cup. Stir. Breathe in. Take a slurp. And guess what? It ain’t half bad. It gives your gills a nice little workout, and it makes an interesting taste! I mean hot-hot coffee? This could be big!

By the time I get up to go, it’s almost dark. I notice lights on upstairs. “What’s up there?” I ask Jeff.

“More rooms, more space. Nice and quiet to study in.”

“Can you eat up there?”

“Sure.”

Wow. Have to go look. As I do, I imagine the Jennings family kids back in 1886, running up and down these same stairs. One of them, Inez, died here when she was 18 months old.

The rooms are smaller, but totally cute. Maybe half a dozen students sit surrounded by papers, screens. The dad was a lawyer and county sheriff. Frank Jennings built this house back in 1886 and moved in with his family. He was a state senator from Kansas. It kinda feels like they never moved out.

“One more thing,” I say to Tig and Jeff. “Ghosts? Any creaking boards?”

“Nothing I’ve felt,” says Jeff.

“But Josh, who works here too,” says Tig, “he says he’s heard some weird sounds when he’s here alone at night.”

That’s it. Gotta come back. I’m thinking: Next time, maybe a few slurps of my hot hot coffee will help tune ye old ESP antennae. Maybe Senator Jennings makes visits.

  • The Place: Jennings House Cafe, 1018 Rosecrans Street, Point Loma, 619-222-6857
  • Hours: 6am–5pm, Monday–Thursday; 6am-9pm, Friday, Saturday, Sunday
  • Prices: Egg breakfast with 3-egg scramble, toast, fruit, $8.95; breakfast burrito (scrambled eggs, black beans, bacon, cheese, salsa, fruit), $9.95; The Point Loma (scrambled eggs, bacon, cheese, avocado, toasted croissant, salsa, fruit), $9.95; Granola, $7.95; fruit bowl, $6.95; panini, $12.95; side biscuit with sausage gravy, $4.50; two-biscuit plate with eggs, $11.95; avocado, two poached eggs, fruit, $10.95; Very Berry salad with feta, $10.95; cup of soup with bread, $4.95; hummus, pita, veggies, $6.95; meat lover’s scramble (three eggs scrambled with Swiss cheese, bacon, turkey, sausage, toast, fruit, $12.95
  • Bus: 28, 84
  • Nearest Bus Stops: Shelter Island Drive at Rosecrans (28, 84, westbound); Rosecrans at Cañon Street (28, 84, eastbound)
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Jeff and Tig
Jeff and Tig

Announcing a new gastronomic experience! A taste sensation you drink! A… OK. Here’s how it happened.

Place

Jennings House Cafe

1018 Rosecrans Street, San Diego

I’m in Point Loma. Jes’ walking southwest down Rosecrans. Past the Dick & Jane Waxing Salon, and past, oh yeah: big old Victorian with a patio deck out front. “Jennings House Café,” says the sign. “Est. 1886. Beer & Wine.” Painted cream with smoky blue window frames. A big old sycamore tree sprouts up through the deck. Blackboard sandwich board on the sidewalk says “Welcome. Breakfast all day.”

Fruit really lifts this late brekky dish. Good bread helps

The fact that it’s 5:30 at night makes this news important. I’m starving. Nuttin’ all day. I know. Bad habit. Whatever, I’m up the steps like a beachmaster on heat, and kinda crash into a butter-colored sitting room. Lots of black, wooden, old-fashioned chairs and tables, some with spare cushions that just invite you to stick them under your head and take a nap. Students laptop away. From Point Loma Nazarene University, I’m betting. Back wall glints with square glass tea jars. Plus they have bookshelves with actual books, and ancient black and white pics. One has men and a woman in 1890 at Cabrillo lighthouse, drinking wine and munching on sandwiches, looking tipsily happy.

Behind the counter, two students for sure. Jeff and Tig.

“Breakfast?” I ask. “Still?”

Patio and two floors of rooms. No excuse to not finish that assignment!

“Absolutely,” says Jeff. He just points me to the menu. Hmm. Egg breakfast with a three-egg scramble, toast and fruit cost $8.95. A breakfast burrito with scrambled eggs, black beans, bacon and cheese, with salsa and fruit, $10.95. The “Point Loma” is scrambled eggs, bacon, cheese, avocado, on a toasted croissant, plus salsa and fruit, $10.95. Granola, $7.95, or a simple bowl of fruit, $6.95.

Ooh. And I notice a “side biscuit with sausage gravy.” Only $4.50. The full two-biscuit plate plus fruit is $8.95. Add eggs, $11.95. Or, for one more dollar you can get a “breakfast combo,” which is a half order of French toast with berries, then two eggs (scrambled or poached) plus bacon or sausage. But I end up going for the Meat Lover’s Scramble: three eggs scrambled with Swiss cheese, bacon, turkey, and sausage, plus toast and fruit (also $12.95).

I order coffee ($2.75 for 16 ounces), and I’m just heading out and down the steps to the patio when I get to thinking — wondering how a glass of, well, wine would go with a sunset breakfast like this. Have a few spare shekels, night off tonight, so what da heck? I order the house red blend, ($7), and down the steps into the last rays of Auld Huey.

Partee! Just a few doors down, but in 1890.

It’s a good spot to check life on the street below. You’re looking out from one of the oldest houses in Point Loma onto Rosecrans, oldest street in San Diego, they say. Was the 101, used by bullock carts heading north towards L.A. And before that, right here at Ballast Point, is where Cabrillo himself came ashore that day in 1542.

Jeff brings it all out to the deck pretty quick. Oh man. Plenty of good steaming chunks of meat in the scramble. Lot of sausage taste. Splotting Cholula on them wakes your mouth up. And a good array of fruit – melon, pineapple, orange, blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries – freshens your mouth every now and then.

And with the toast and chunks of meat, that wine goes pretty good. It’s nice for seven bucks. “Line 39,” Pinot Noir, 2016.

But the breakthrough? It happens with the coffee. Brand is called “Cura,” and it comes from a co-op in Nicaragua. This cafe sends money from each cup of coffee they sell, to help give free dentistry to the community down there. Pretty cool.

Winey brekky? Try anything once.

The second thing I discover here is that if you want to get your biggest buzz from a coffee, go for the light roast, not the dark. Dark has more flavor, light has more caffeine. Who knew?

And the third thing? It starts when Jeff makes some crack as he’s putting the Cholula hot sauce on the table. “To go with your hot coffee,” he says.

That gets me thinking: “Well, why not make my coffee really hot? Spicy hot as well as temperature hot!” I shake a few long dollops of Cholula into my half-full cup. Stir. Breathe in. Take a slurp. And guess what? It ain’t half bad. It gives your gills a nice little workout, and it makes an interesting taste! I mean hot-hot coffee? This could be big!

By the time I get up to go, it’s almost dark. I notice lights on upstairs. “What’s up there?” I ask Jeff.

“More rooms, more space. Nice and quiet to study in.”

“Can you eat up there?”

“Sure.”

Wow. Have to go look. As I do, I imagine the Jennings family kids back in 1886, running up and down these same stairs. One of them, Inez, died here when she was 18 months old.

The rooms are smaller, but totally cute. Maybe half a dozen students sit surrounded by papers, screens. The dad was a lawyer and county sheriff. Frank Jennings built this house back in 1886 and moved in with his family. He was a state senator from Kansas. It kinda feels like they never moved out.

“One more thing,” I say to Tig and Jeff. “Ghosts? Any creaking boards?”

“Nothing I’ve felt,” says Jeff.

“But Josh, who works here too,” says Tig, “he says he’s heard some weird sounds when he’s here alone at night.”

That’s it. Gotta come back. I’m thinking: Next time, maybe a few slurps of my hot hot coffee will help tune ye old ESP antennae. Maybe Senator Jennings makes visits.

  • The Place: Jennings House Cafe, 1018 Rosecrans Street, Point Loma, 619-222-6857
  • Hours: 6am–5pm, Monday–Thursday; 6am-9pm, Friday, Saturday, Sunday
  • Prices: Egg breakfast with 3-egg scramble, toast, fruit, $8.95; breakfast burrito (scrambled eggs, black beans, bacon, cheese, salsa, fruit), $9.95; The Point Loma (scrambled eggs, bacon, cheese, avocado, toasted croissant, salsa, fruit), $9.95; Granola, $7.95; fruit bowl, $6.95; panini, $12.95; side biscuit with sausage gravy, $4.50; two-biscuit plate with eggs, $11.95; avocado, two poached eggs, fruit, $10.95; Very Berry salad with feta, $10.95; cup of soup with bread, $4.95; hummus, pita, veggies, $6.95; meat lover’s scramble (three eggs scrambled with Swiss cheese, bacon, turkey, sausage, toast, fruit, $12.95
  • Bus: 28, 84
  • Nearest Bus Stops: Shelter Island Drive at Rosecrans (28, 84, westbound); Rosecrans at Cañon Street (28, 84, eastbound)
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