Sunday, November 18, 2007

another $50 brunch...

Let's start from the end. I found out after I walked out of the door of Sepia that it was there first month for brunch. Fair enough.
And I probably am a little critical since I am in the restaurant industry.
That being said, there were a few too many glitches for me to want to spend $50 for two for brunch. This seems to be a common plight, though, with the dinner place that wants to cash in on brunch once a week.
The room is great. Comfortable, warm browns. A revamped almost seventies feel with a touch of Baroque flair. It is a bit formal for a casual brunch, but it worked. The side by side two top tables were large enough that I didn't feel like I had to eavesdrop on the next table, unless I wanted to. The serviceware was all quality and well chosen. (HGTV would be proud of the combination of old with the new.)
The physical menu is striking. Embossed paper with a custom cut edge.
They cover most of the bases for brunch: pancakes, French toast, omelette, benedict, egg white scramble. There were enough twists to make the menu interesting - short rib hash, Berkshire pork belly benedict, homemade jelly doughnuts. Yet for some reason nothing jumped out at me. Perhaps it was me though, since I didn't even indulge in one of their BACON bloody marys.
Service started off well, albeit as well a little formal for brunch. I have no problem putting a napkin on my own lap, thanks. The server stressed how everything, including the jam is housemade, striving to use locally grown ingredients. And then mentioned it again. Then later, a third time.

-Small tangent - Getting very tired of "local farms," "organic," "housemade" being thrown in my face at every turn. Do I support it? Absolutely. It is essential for quality food and for not destroying earth quite so rapidly. Do I want to have it mentioned to me several times while I'm dining. Nope. Just shut up and do it. Take a cue from Crust. You don't even realize you are eating an almost entirely organic pizza unless you had previous knowledge, or read the small print on the menu.

Meanwhile, back at Sepia, we ordered the $5 fresh O.J. and grapefruit juice. Served over ice. Weird. Good coffee. So far, we're doing OK. For entrees we went with the "souffled pancake," the short rib hash, and a side of duck fat potatoes. The server had to lengthily explain, after we ordered it that the pancake was like a dutch pancake or dutch baby. Call a spade a spade. He also seemed frazzled when I asked if my eggs for the hash could be over easy instead of scrambled. After debating for a second, he allowed me to order it that way.

The food comes. My eggs are scrambled. No problem, right? The server will be by to check on us soon. Hey, and where are the duck fat potatoes? It's fine, we'll do without. So we dig in. The hash is great. Nice Yukon gold potatoes, sweet and sour cipollini onions and plenty of nicely braised short rib. And the portion size is appropriate. Sepia seems to be one of the few midwest restaurants that understands that I don't need to eat for two. The dutch baby was also good, but it was stuck to the very cool Staub cast iron pan, so we had to wrestle with our breakfast. The much ballyhooed jam was good. Not great or overly noteworthy. And a little too sweet for us. I did also eavesdrop to hear the next table say "where's the mascarpone?" for their chocolate mascarpone french toast.

And...where is that server? We are down to just a few bites left of brunch, when the gentleman I assume is the GM comes around to refill coffee. At this point, the eggs are moot, the baby has been eaten, but we don't want to eat, or pay for, the nonexistent potatoes. So we mention something. No problem. The server comes by quickly thereafter refills our juices (nice!)and offers us doughnuts or shortcake and takes the blame. Still comes off with class. We decline the offer. We're sated and happy. But he goes ahead and sends us out doughnuts. Filled with the housemade, locally raised raspberry-pear jam that was also with the dutch baby.

At this point we are ready to go. I am as guilty of the next person of wanting brunch to be fast and efficient, while managing to be relaxing.

Then again... where is the server? We still have to wait over 10 minutes for our bill. Our $42 bill. Which is pretty fair for the quality and the location. I guess. Perhaps I'm just sick of spending more than I make in two hours on eggs and toast. I ask for the remaining apology doughnuts to be wrapped to go, and receive an almost snotty response. Sorry you got chewed out by the GM. Lucky we didn't mention the wrong eggs and the sticky baby.

While many of the kinks were obviously due to it being their first brunch, the remaining service issues left us griping. Laughing and griping, yes, but still griping about how an obviously sophisticated dinner place couldn't quite pull off brunch.

1 comment:

JasonToo said...

Hey, hey - very well done! Welcome to the Coast...