the best breakfast in santa monica min


From Oceana’s kitchen to yours, discover Chef Ryan’s delicious french toast recipe.

How we start the day sets the tone for the rest of it — which is why we’re bringing the taste of Oceana to your home with the best breakfast in Santa Monica. An indulgent introduction to the morning, our French toast is stuffed with a mascarpone filling and bejeweled with fresh fruit and orange zest for a memorable dish.

“It’s definitely the most decadent item on the breakfast menu, but the contrasts of the citrus and the bright tart notes from the fresh berries balance it very well and make for a wonderful spin on the traditional staple,” says Chef Ryan Crawford.

Chef Ryan shares how to recreate it, from Oceana’s kitchen to yours, along with his culinary secrets for restaurant-worthy results. Add it to your recipe repertoire to surprise loved ones with brunch in bed, or to prepare on a whim — we can’t think of a situation not made better by French toast.




3 ea egg yolks
3 ea eggs whole
½ tsp vanilla extract
5 Tbsp brown sugar (packed)
2/3 c. heavy cream
1/8 tsp each, of cinnamon (ground), and nutmeg (ground)
Zest of ¼ large orange


1 pint good quality mascarpone cheese (if this is unavailable, cream cheese will also work)
Zest of 1 large lemon
1 Tbsp granulated sugar


1 loaf good quality challah or brioche (shape doesn’t really matter), cut in 2-3 inch-thick slices
Some quality jam, and/or maple syrup (unless you’re making your own, like we do, you may want to loosen your jam to more of a sauce consistency by adding in a small amount of water, juice, or alcohol)
Whipped Cream (optional)
Powdered Sugar (again, optional)
Orange segments (peeled orange, cut into wedges; if you want to do it like a pro, cut between the pith of each segment, and gently remove any seeds to make “supremes”)
Fresh berries: strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries

“It’s definitely the most decadent item on the breakfast menu, but the contrasts of the citrus and the bright tart notes from the fresh berries balance it very well and make for a wonderful spin on the traditional staple." - Chef Ryan


For the batter, combine all ingredients in a stand mixer, and beat with the whisk attachment until combined. If you don’t have a stand mixer, a hand mixer, or a bowl and whisk are fine. The goal is to make the sugar dissolve into the liquid.

While that’s mixing (or afterwards if you’re beating it out by hand), pull out your softened mascarpone, place in a separate mixing bowl with the sugar and lemon zest, and whip until the sugar and the lemon zest are combined.

Chef’s Note: At this point, you have a choice. Either you can go the extra mile and stuff your French toast (with a piping bag; a large ziplock bag with the corner cut off is a decent substitute), or you can hold this on the side and simply spread a generous dollop on top of the toast when it’s done cooking. They taste exactly the same. If you do plan to stuff the toasts, pour the mixture into your piping bag and set aside at room temperature until you’re ready to go. If you’re doing this step for later in the day, or the next morning, or you just have left-over and you want to use it again, then place in the refrigerator, but remember that if you’re planning on piping it out again, it’ll need to soften at room temperature before you’ll be able to.

At this point, go ahead and cut your loaf. If you’re going to stuff the slices, a slightly thicker slice is more desirable (3”-4”), if not, your personal preference is fine.

For stuffing the slices, with a small pairing knife, cut a small opening in the crust, and make a little hole to insert the tip of the piping bag. Push the knife further inside that hole, and create a pocket by making a flat cut from side to side. If it’s not perfect, don’t stress over it; it’s still going to taste great. Once you’ve done that to all of your slices, gently fill them with the softened mascarpone mixture that you made earlier.

Chef’s Tip: Put the stuffed bread in the freezer for a few minutes to stiffen the mascarpone back up before cooking. Give it about 15 minutes and it should be at a temperature that will make it easier to handle.

Dip your stuffed, cooled, composed brioche slices in the batter that you made, and let them soak on either side until they’re essentially saturated.

Preheat a large pan or griddle to medium heat. Place the slices on the heated surface and allow them to cook, flipping occasionally to manage the browning, until they puff slightly, and there isn’t any egg running if you pierce them with a toothpick/fork/knife.

Plate your French toast. Keep the slices whole, or cut them in half, stack them up high, or lay them out like cards: the design is up to you.

Chef’s Note: At Oceana, we slice them from corner to corner and drizzle them in our house jam, dust them with powdered sugar, and garnish them generously with fresh berries, orange segments, mint and edible flowers, with a side of dark Vermont maple syrup on the side.

Want more Oceana-inspired flavors at home? Give your happy hour the SoCal spin with an Oceana x Casamigos white Christmas horchata.