The Rail - San Diego, CA

The Rail in the Hillcrest neighborhood recently added a weekend brunch between 10am-3pm, headed by two Vegas chefs Chef Chad Brunette and Sous Chef John Hamaker. The restaurant is next to the long standing breakfast/brunch spot Crest Cafe but carves its own path with a creative spin on its brunch menu. The business (formerly known as The Brass Rail) underwent a huge remodel last December and looks fantastic. In the evenings, the space returns to the energetic nightclub vibe.

The Rail restaurant and nightclub in Hillcrest San Diego

The bartenders can mix up fun weekend cocktails to accompany your meal. We didn't order our usual drinks this time but will partake in a future visit.

shrimp and grits at The Rail restaurant and nightclub in Hillcrest San Diego

Shrimp & Grits ($12) | cheese grits served with tomato chutney, poached egg and grilled shrimp

This brunch item came out piping hot served in a mini glass jar. On the top was a fried egg and four shrimp plus two crostinis on the side. The creamy grits were brothy in flavor and very buttery with a saltier finish (near the bottom). This flavor was mellowed out when spread on the wonderfully crusty crostini. The shrimps were nicely grilled and seasoned well. I barely noticed the chutney due to the prominent grits but believe it gave an additional hint of sweetness to the entree.

meatball sliders at The Rail restaurant and nightclub in Hillcrest San Diego

Meatball Sliders (3/$10) - meatballs stuffed with mozzarella cheese and braised in a white wine jus, served with green apple, fennel and arugula slaw on a brioche bun

This came with a large meatball as promised which we smashed down to take a complete bite. The seasoned meat was leaner tasting yet retained a moderate juiciness to it. I especially enjoyed the crisp tart apple slices with the arugula in each bite. The bread was slightly firm in the edges but held everything in place. This was our favorite item during brunch though Dennis thought it could have used a tad more sauce.

cajun shrimp benedict at The Rail restaurant and nightclub in Hillcrest San Diego

Cajun Shrimp Benedict ($14) - two cornbread waffles stacked with grilled shrimp, poached egg and Cajun pork gravy

The cornbread waffle caught my interest on this benedict. The consistency was denser and less fluffy but the toasted aspect kept the toppings from making the rest soggy. The slight sweetness reminded me of the Jiffy version which I'm quite fond of. Meaty cajun gravy was everywhere, containing the flavor of jalapeño but without the spice. I was happy with this mild level though Dennis did want more kick. The delightful flow of spilt yolk was the only traditional Benedict portion with the fusion gravy and "biscuit." Overall, the dish gave that home comfort food satisfaction as we mopped up the last bite. For a more traditional benny, try the smoked salmon with english muffin.

Chef Chad Brunette and Chef John Hamaker at The Rail in Hillcrest San Diego

Lynn, Chef John, and Chef Chad

Chef Chad came out to chat with us about himself and the menu inspiration. Previously he and Chef John worked together while in Vegas and separately moved to San Diego. When they both applied to the same restaurant (here), it was simply destiny that they'd work together again! Chef Chad was able to play around with the menu and add his own spin to traditional breakfast items. The roux used in the yummy Cajun Shrimp was made in the traditional way, involving a long 6-7 hour process that tasted quite successful to us! We also heard positive things about the fig & proscuitto flatbread and bookmarked several other items to try! You can read more about the two chefs on The Rail website

Kayla Lynn at The Rail restaurant and nightclub in Hillcrest San Diego

We also lucked out with the live music that morning from the talented Kayla Lynn (sp?), whose soothing voice made for a relaxing start to sunday funday.

The Rail restaurant and nightclub in Hillcrest San Diego

The back area contained the DJ booth for night festivities alongside a large open floor for dancing.

The Rail restaurant and nightclub in Hillcrest San Diego

Hey pretty lady! I loved seeing the different artwork found inside or outside restaurants such as the recent sighting of a hop dragon at Common Theory.

The Rail restaurant and nightclub in Hillcrest San Diego

For a casual weekend lunch, stop by The Rail between 10am-3pm. Our lazy weekend mornings appreciate late brunch hours, especially if there was a late night prior! Both Lance and Nick were polite and friendly as they helped us choose food. We enjoyed our bites and were eyeing the warm fig & prosciutto flatbread at our neighbor's table. Seems reason enough to come back for a revisit!

Disclaimer: We were invited to dine here and our food was complimentary. We were not otherwise compensated and all opinions stated are our own.

The Rail
3796 Fifth Ave
San Diego CA 92103
(619) 298-2233

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Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table's picture
Submitted by Laura @ Sprint ... (not verified) on Tue, 08/01/2017 - 10:07pm

Damn! We just moved from our house that was literally 3 block from there. We'll have to get back there for brunch one day. I always enjoyed stopping in for a drink after the remodel. It's a great space!

lynn's picture
Submitted by lynn on Sun, 08/06/2017 - 9:38am

we missed the drinks this time but will add that on if we make it back here soon!'s picture
Submitted by (not verified) on Wed, 08/02/2017 - 2:20pm

That's nice you got to meet the chef and had free entertainment!

lynn's picture
Submitted by lynn on Sun, 08/06/2017 - 9:37am

It's always nice to talk with the chefs and live music is always appreciated!

Mary's picture
Submitted by Mary (not verified) on Fri, 08/04/2017 - 7:38am

Oh my gosh, when I saw the name of the restaurant I didn’t realize this was the Brass Rail! I went there forever ago with my friends for a dancing girls night out. Haha. It looks very nice and spiffy now! The shrimp and grits looks amazing! I love that it’s served in a little jar. How cute! Looks like a fun breakfast spot!

lynn's picture
Submitted by lynn on Sun, 08/06/2017 - 9:36am

I also remember it as the Brass Rail but don't think I've visited the nightclub scene too much in Hillcrest. I asked the PR person and they mentioned the rebranding along with the remodel. For my uses (daytime), it looks very nice. :)

caninecologne's picture
Submitted by caninecologne (not verified) on Mon, 08/21/2017 - 9:42pm

I've been living under a rock, ha ha. I didn't realize that the Brass Rail was now The Rail. When I saw your thumbnail photo of the exterior, I thought it was that, but the place had been painted a different color. Great photo of you with the chefs. :)

lynn's picture
Submitted by lynn on Wed, 08/23/2017 - 4:14pm

Actually, first thing I asked the PR persone was about the name! I only remember it as The Brass Rail, a gay nightclub. It never had food before!

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