Sunday, February 3, 2013

Go Ahead, Sleep In - Late Breakfast at Beer Kitchen

OK, I personally don't sleep in. Ever. I'm a 5:00 - 5:30 AM guy on typical mornings. 6:00 AM on weekends. But I recognize that many more normal folks like to call bed their home for a few extra hours on Saturday and Sunday.  Brunch was designed for them. I'm happy to tag along - even if it will be my second meal of the day.

So it was this weekend that we set out on Saturday morning (closer to Noon than actually morning) to have a very late breakfast at Beer Kitchen in Westport. Located right on the corner of Westport Road and Pennsylvania Avenue and home to what must be approaching 100 different beers, Beer Kitchen might seem an unlikely spot for brunch. My experiences here to date were limited to downing a couple of beers after eating elsewhere and on one particularly nice summer day making it a middle stop on an impromptu Westport pub crawl with my wife. It turns out this place knows how to cook.

On arrival at 12:30 PM the place was at capacity, a lively buzz of diners filling all the seats and a 20-minute wait for a table. Perfect chance to start in on one of Beer Kitchen's Beer Cocktails. Shelly went light and fizzy and chose a Razzle Dazzle (wheat beer, raspberry vodka & blackberry puree on the rocks - $6) and I went dark with a Black Diamond (Guinness stout, black raspberry liqueur, blackberry puree, Mexican cacao shavings - $8). Shelly loved hers (evidenced by ordering at least one more before we finished our meal) but for my taste the Black Diamond is just a bit too sweet. Well crafted, just not for me.

After a quick check-in on Facebook I was rewarded with an immediate comment/recommendation from FB friend Tom M: "Green Eggs and favorite". So I had a place to start. Upon being seated our very energetic waitress enthusiastically asked if we were going to start with Drunken Doughnuts (mini-powdered sugar doughnuts, grand marnier hot chocolate) as though this is a foregone conclusion. Unfortunately I have a few rules (very few, but I have them) and one is - no doughnuts. So no, no drunken doughnuts today. The Sizzling Maple Pork Belly on the other hand was too inviting to pass up. It arrived as advertised, sizzling, in a small cast iron pan. Now, pork belly is tricky. The flavor resides almost entirely in the fat. That's a good thing as long as there's plenty of fat. This serving unfortunately appeared to be the only lean pork belly I've ever been served. Though cooked perfectly most of the dish was flavorless. Onward...

Switching drinks and going to a decidedly more appropriate breakfast beer (Deschutes Obsidian Stout) it was time for an entree. I already had Green Eggs and Ham on my mind and the menu description sealed the deal - Two fried eggs, pico, salsa verde, black forest ham, black bean puree, warm soft tortillas & brunch potatoes. Shelly leaned toward the unch side of brunch and chose, after a strong recommendation from our server, the Hogtied sandwich - Black forest ham, BBQ burnt ends, smoked bacon aioli, chipotle white cheddar, pickle relish & cider slaw on grilled sourdough. Good girl, that one.

Both entrees were $9 each which felt like charity considering the generous portions and general deliciousness. The Green Eggs and Ham included a thick slice of tasty Black Forest ham. Eggs were perfectly cooked (over easy), the pureed black beans helped pull all the flavors together. The brunch potatoes were just the way I like them - crispy edges, full of flavor. The Hogtied did not disappoint. There's a lot on this sandwich and done poorly the flavors would be competing for attention. An appropriate balance of flavor and textures ensured that every bite had us anticipating the next one.

Verdict: Well worth the trip. There are at least six items on the menu that I need to try on my return. Skip the sizzling pork belly (or ask for a fatty piece?).

Razzle Dazzle and Black Diamond beer cocktails.
It was at capacity near Noon on Saturday.

Sizzling Maple Pork Belly
Pretty, but too lean for my taste.

Deschutes Obsidian Stout
This beer is made for breakfast.

Green eggs and ham.

Hogtied sandwich

The Beer Board.  It's big.

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