Restaurants specializing in breakfast fare tend to fall into two categories. One is the greasy-spoon diner, the great-grandfather of modern quick-service restaurants, churning out familiar egg dishes and griddle cakes and generally favoring speed and low cost over quality. At such places, you're thrilled if they serve decent breakfast potatoes, toast that's not made from squishy supermarket Pullman loaves, and respectable coffee. The second and far rarer type serves food made with more care, food that feels more like a labor of love than a factory product. Such is Dot2Dot Café, a Dorchester storefront you could pass a hundred times and not notice but whose excellent everyday brunch and twice-weekly dinner service you really shouldn't miss.
To start, there's free Wi-Fi and excellent filter coffee from Rao's, hot ($1.50) and iced ($2). The D2D fish breakfast ($13) is extraordinary: a gently sautéed cod fillet sauced with a perfect, vibrant romesco, plus excellent creamy grits and two eggs. The terrific toast on this plate reflects the kitchen's foundational strength: baking its own fine breads, rolls, and pastries. This shows in the fabulous, genuinely memorable brioche French toast with eggs and quality bacon or sausage ($8.50); it's so flavorful and richly saturated with egg and hints of sweet spices that it doesn't even need the accompanying pure maple syrup. Fin's Choice ($4) recalls the chef/owner's native England, serving two boiled eggs with "soldiers," more of that great toast cut into strips for dipping into yolk. Poached eggs ($8), served atop a disk of pretty good, hash-brown-like rösti potatoes and gently sautéed spinach, are elevated by an excellent Hollandaise.
A selection of very tasty vegan and vegetarian dishes, like the brunch tofu scramble ($9) with roasted vegetables and home fries, further signals you're well away from retro-diner territory. This focus is also evident on Thursday and Friday evenings, when the café serves dinner and, on Fridays, hosts local live music. The dinner menu (appetizers, entrees, desserts) is different every week (the menu is updated daily on the Web site, dot2dotcafe.com); when I was there, it featured dishes like a fresh, Trinidadian-inflected hot-and-sour papaya salad ($6); an eggplant stir-fry ($12) fiercely accented with chilies and shallots and served with rice and fried plantains; and pineapple sorbet ($6) served in crisp, cookie-like brandy-snap baskets. The airy, 34-seat room (plus couch) features spare, modern furnishings and a rotating array of local art; service is friendly and leisurely. In all, Dot2Dot is the sort of cool little indie restaurant of which hip neighborhoods are made. If you don't live nearby, its artful, homey, hand-crafted cooking is worth the trip.
Dot2Dot Café, located at 1739 Dorchester Avenue, in Dorchester, is open for brunch from 8 am–2 pm, Tuesday–Sunday, and for dinner from 6 pm–9:30 pm on Thursday and Friday. Call 617.436.2368.