Doesn't it seem like it's all been done? With the dozens upon dozens of new restaurant concepts opening locally and nationally, what under the sun could possibly be new?
At first blush, Eastside (read our first look of dinner here) looks classic, tried and true. But look a little closer, and you'll see that things are being done just a wee bit differently, right under your nose.
Just like you and like me, Eastside restauranteur Ryan Burnet thinks brunch is sacred. That it's the weekend extender that's just a little less likely to foil Monday morning than, say, two-for-one Rumplemintz at the Lamplighter, for instance. And Eastside's may just be the one local brunch that strikes this impressive balance: we'll call it "debauchery with caution."
"The theme is to give you something you're going to love without making you feel bad about it later," says chef Remy Pettus.
So: no hollandaise served here, sorry, but as any good egg chef will tell you: you don't need it. You don't need it because the sumptuous flow of a precisely poached egg yolk is nature's perfect sauce, and as it streams to combine with natural bedfellows mushroom and truffle (there is almost nothing better in the world than eggs together with mushrooms) plus a little bacon, a light shred of aged cheddar and, wait for it— hazelnut, this is a "benedict" like you've never had. Served not with English muffin but with the gratifying toast of grilled bread.
And lest you think they're trying to slip heath food in the guise of wolf's clothing, think again. Just better choices, like this "morning sandwich", with bacon, pork shoulder, sharp cheddar cheese, a sunny egg and spicy pickles on a house made potato bun. It's bigger than a slider, but smaller than a gut-buster burger, and it's served with roasted potatoes instead of fries, and it's damn good and plenty abundant.
It's also served with house-made ketchup (blasphemy) but hey, nobody's perfect.
Pettus' family hails from North Carolina, so he just knew he had to have a shrimp and grits on the menu, which is great, and is a no-brainer for the place, with does-a-body good grains and high-quality al dente shrimp that snap when you bite 'em. Come to think of it, I'm not sure how healthful this one really is, with cheddar cheese that stretches off the fork like mozzarella off a pizza, but whatever. It's brunch. Spicy Sausage adds funky depth and sweet corn gives it candy pop.
Pastry chef Beryl St. Jeanne has done an admirable job with gilding classics like chocolate babka by plying it with macron almonds, dark chocolate and cinnamon, which they're serving instead of the pedestrian cinnamon roll. Pistachio financier cake that uses pistachio flower, almond and brown butter is surprising, compelling and new. Ditto her plan to have a rotating popover, like this one with Gruyere, thyme and lots of eye-opening black pepper. Sometimes, they may contain meat. We anxiously await that day.
They're also serving a comprehensive fresh-squeezed juice program, not just with orange and grapefruit, because those are good and reliable; but also carrot/celery/ginger or carrot/ kale/ kiwi/ lime for offsetting the sesame bloody mary and the tequila mimosa you're also obviously going to order.
Novelty for novelty's sake is generally a mistake. But intelligently and intentionally rethinking what we've all taken for granted as standard, well, that's more rare. Eastside is shaping up to be a rare restaurant— classic yet different, decadent yet wholesome, impressive yet welcoming.
And if nothing else, they're slipping tequila into our mimosas and we've got no problem with that.
305 S Washington Ave., Mpls.
Brunch service begins Saturday, November 14th and will be served Saturdays and Sundays from 10a.m. to 2:30p.m.
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