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Tag: bham brunch

Understated Arts at Woodlawn Cycle Cafe Brunch

woodlawn cycle cafe brunch

woodlawn cycle cafe brunch

Our love of brunch is well-documented, but as a meal, sometimes it’s frankly too time-limited. If nothing says weekend quite like brunch, why do most restaurants serve it only one day per week? Clearly simpatico, Woodlawn Cycle Cafe brunch is an all-weekend affair.

We can’t say what exactly they’ll offer when you go. That’s the beauty of a rotating menu, after all. But there will likely always be some variation on the toastie and salad combo, in keeping with their understated arts. On a visit in early November, we fell hard for a fried egg, cheese, and bacon version built around a sweet potato biscuit and topped with pepper jelly.

The biscuit was tender beyond measure and flaky only where it needed to be. Basically, it’s a biscuit sandwich you’ll want to eat with a knife and fork. And we say that for informational purposes only, not as a complaint. A hit of heat from the pepper jelly offset any added sweetness from the biscuit or any heaviness from bacon and cheese. It was a nearly perfect breakfast bite.

Add in some bright sunlight in a whitewashed space plus one of our all-time favorite lattes, and getting out of bed on the weekend starts to look appealing. The crowd ebbs and flows, so don’t be alarmed if it seems busy when you arrive. It’ll settle out and leave plenty of room for a leisurely meal.

But what would brunch be without a bit of walking around afterward? A handful of small shops in the same block–Open Shop Woodlawn, Public Office, and Club Duquette–offer post-meal options. Their related aesthetic and unique product lines make brunch at Woodlawn Cycle Cafe not just a meal but an event. And if your Saturday doesn’t come together the way you’d planned, you can always try again Sunday. That’s the beauty of Woodlawn’s brunch weekend.

 

Check back Wednesday and Saturday for posts on Open Shop and Public Office, so you can plan your weekend in Woodlawn.

 

Brunch Makes the Weekend at Ovenbird

ovenbird brunch

ovenbird brunch

As Chris Hastings’s newest venture, Ovenbird has never been a hard sell, but its Saturday market brunch is really something special. Not only is it exciting food; it also makes the most of the restaurant’s Lakeview location. Brunch here turns a Pepper Place jaunt into a full-on weekend occasion.

The restaurant’s modern indoor/outdoor design creates an easy flow between the market action and the pause for brunch. It’s not a departure from your Pepper Place experience, in other words, but a framing of it. That flow also creates a fairly kid-friendly ambience for an otherwise very grown up restaurant.

At first glance, the omelette “gramajo” seems like standard brunch food, albeit with fancy ham. Google it, though, and you’ll find out it’s an Argentinian take on hangover food. Order it and you’ll find an egg dish that’s just set and smoky throughout thanks to the jamon. It is a nearly perfect breakfast food, hangover or no.

The full Spanish breakfast is a Latin riff on a heavy English feast, featuring boudin rouge as the spicy, creamy the star of the meal. Tasted separately, the rest of the plate may seem bland. Incorporate boudin in each bite, and you’ll realize how magically composed this dish actually is. It’s a full range of textures – thick grits, creamy avocado, saucy egg yolk — all there to complement the sausage.

A three-beignet order is a light dessert for two, and you may first mistake it for a tidier take on your French Quarter favorite. But a molasses-y caramel filling brings a more complex sweetness than the simple fried dough and powdered sugar combo you’re used to. (It’s dulce de leche — an amped up version of caramel — the server told us.) If you need to surreptitiously lick your plate, we’ll gladly look the other way.

For all of Pepper Place’s charm, it hasn’t typically been a brunch spot, and that’s a big hole in coverage for our city’s favorite meal. We’ll always love the market for making Lakeview a foodie playground. And we’ll always love Ovenbird for bringing brunch to Pepper Place.

Bham Brunch: Rowe's Service Station

rowe's service station brunch

 

Once upon a time, there was no brunch in Avondale. It seems out of character for Birmingham, but it’s true. You could nod your cap at it — adding a fried egg to your lunchtime Post Office Pie — but biscuits and Bloody Marys weren’t in the neighborhood. Then came Rowe’s, which offers a brunch so truly Avondale it’s hard to imagine the area without it.

The menu is compact, straightforward, and appealing. It includes items like toad in a hole that aren’t broadly available, plus plenty of non-egg dishes if you prefer lunch food with a festive brunch drink.

We think the beer-raised waffle will put you in the mood for brunch staples, though. It has a slight yeast-y flavor that we loved, and which prompted a fierce internal debate over whether or not to request butter. (In the end, we chose not to.)

The chicken tender sandwich is perfectly fried and heavy on the honey mustard. It’s served with nicely crispy french fries that also come perfectly salted, which is always aces in our book.

The huevos rancheros was the underdog surprise — it sounded far less exciting than either the waffles or the chicken. Yet it was creamy and salty and satisfying, and a dish we’ll surely order again.

Let’s be honest, though. Brunch is as much about the beverages as it is about the food. Bloody Mary bars have become popular on the Birmingham brunch scene, but the quality varies wildly. The biggest gripe we hear tends to be a lack of hot sauce options.

Rowe’s apparently heard it too. They’ve dedicated two wall-mounted shelves to DIY Bloody Mary prep, and one is filled entirely with hot sauces. The other is split between Bloody Mary mixes and pickled garnishes.

The atmosphere echoes the menu — appealingly casual. There are concrete floors and raw wood rafters. You secure your place on the waitlist by pulling a ticket from the counter. Drinks come in disposable cups and food on plain steel trays. It’s low on frills, befitting a space that was once a working service station.

“In keeping with the most recent history of the neighborhood, I didn’t want to steamroll the character of the space or turn it into something it wasn’t, and instead, take advantage of the history that’s already built into it,” Co-owner Cliff Atkins Jr. told AL.com. As Atkins suggests,this embrace of the past is a neighborhood ethos. There’s something nostalgically American about the area: a simultaneous ode to working class roots and the picnicking fun of Avondale park.

Bham Brunch: Stout Fare at Buck Mulligan's

buck mulligans all day breakfast

There are some days brunch isn’t meant to be a chic, pretty midday meal. There are some days when its purpose is less about lazy champagne ambience and more about filling up. For those days, we now have Buck Mulligan’s Public House. Located in Black Market Bar’s old Five Points South location, its pub-inspired brunch eats like a Guinness stout.

The All Day Breakfast option, for instance, includes eggs, rashers (something between bacon and a thin cut of pork), a nicely seasoned banger, and white pudding (an onion-y patty made from sausage and oatmeal, a nice substitute for blood pudding). Rounding out the massive meal were baked beans, fresh tomatoes, brunch potatoes, and soda bread.

The crowd pleaser is likely the Irish Benedict, which offers a bit of familiar brunch flair plus a hearty pub attitude. Beer cheese stands in for the benedict sauce over poached eggs, while crispy French fries, fresh fruit, and soda bread add a range of sides.

buck mulligans

But the soda bread is Buck Mulligan’s real brunch standout. Its texture slices like toast with the buttery crumb of a well-made scone. Our best advice is to brunch with someone who avoids gluten so you can snag an extra serving.

Our other Buck Mulligan’s pro tip: eggs here are runny by default, which is handy for an instant sauce. If you prefer an over-medium fry or a firmer poach, mention that when you order.

Of course, no brunch menu would be complete without the beverages. We stand behind our assessment that this is not a champagne atmosphere, but mimosas are certainly on offer. We suggest the Bloody Mary or Irish Coffee as more appropriate accompaniments, though.

The Bloody Mary has a not-too-heavy consistency and a flavor with just enough spice. Plus it’s garnished with a rasher in addition to the usual citrus and veggies.

brunch drinks at buck mulligans

If you’re the type to bemoan the way a brunch beverage makes you want an afternoon nap, Irish Coffee might be your perfect option. You’ll get the soothing relaxation of the Jameson’s spike with a coffee base that offsets the afternoon slump. Whipped cream and Bailey’s are optional.

This hearty old-world brunch makes perfect sense in a neighborhood with lots of European architectural influences. And the Buck Mulligan’s space boasts a pub-style interior that’s more or less intact from previous incarnations our parents frequented in the ‘70s. Five Points has a mostly continuous commercial history, and you’ll feel that here.

Their take on brunch also feels like good business in an area with plenty of late-night bar options–places you may well have shut down the night before. It’s the right combination of hearty food and hair-of-the-dog you might need to salvage an otherwise wasted Sunday.

But it’s plenty satisfying even if you’re not hurting from Saturday night. It offers something just a little bit different, which is what we’ve come to expect of Five Points, Birmingham’s own bohemian beauty.

Why Rojo Brunch Is a Neighborhood Anchor

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Fancy a covered patio meal on leafy green Highland Avenue? Rojo, it is. Looking for a welcoming attitude toward canine meal companions? It works there, too. There are lots of reasons to go to Rojo, after all, but brunch is a very good one.

Brunch is the ultimate weekend signifier, celebrating the fact that you actually have time to linger in the middle of the day. You might even indulge in a drink or two, since you’re not expected back at work. But at most places, brunch is a single day event. At Rojo it’s a weekend affair, and that’s an unfailingly good thing.

The Rojo brunch menu is dedicated to weekend ease. Instead of creative riffs on a classic eggs benedict, there are multiple variations on the breakfast burrito. With lots of scrambled eggs and bacon and potatoes, it’s the kind of brunch that fills you up. Maybe the kind that helps you recover from the night before. It’s almost a neighborhood kitchen, really, and that’s the heart of Rojo’s appeal.

It’s the kind of place you’re best off walking to and one you can afford on the last dregs of your paycheck. And while some places favor couples or family groupings, Rojo is one of the best places to catch up with friends. This casual sociability fits the neighborhood’s range of residents and has made it the quintessential Highland Park gathering spot.

How else do you effectively mingle folks from high-rise apartments and grand old houses, after all? Latin comfort brunch and bloody mary pitchers hold universal appeal. Which makes us wonder: Is Rojo part of the reason Highland Park works? Is there something about an affordable, local brunch spot that tracks closely with neighborhood viability?

We started this series as a way to talk about restaurants beyond their lunch & dinner service. But in the course of it we’ve started wondering: Does brunch make a neighborhood?