Eggs taste better when somebody else makes them. That's a fact. Not having to do the work seems to add a little something extra. It surely explains why going out for brunch is so appealing. And the local choices for that decadent and self-indulgent meal have just gotten better by one. As of this week Bistro 185 will begin serving chicken and waffles, crab Benedict, frittatas and all sorts of other morning to midday fare on Sundays from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
My first thought, when I heard about this, like everybody who knows this incredibly hardworking couple, wondered why the restaurants owners Ruth and Mark Levine would put something else on their already full plates. I considered that they might be in the grip of serious lapse of sanity and wondered if a friendly intervention was needed. But once Ruth explained the backstory, it all made perfect sense.
The push to do this came from a new and in her words, "extremely capable, creative and organized" team in the kitchen headed by Julie Branstein, who started there while still in high school and then left to earn a culinary degree, and recent hire Miguel Chevres. "They wanted to do it and I am confident they can pull it off," she told me. Better yet, Ruth, who normally dresses in chef whites, can wear nice clothes and hang out in the dining room, something she only occasionally has time to do schmoozing with customers.
The husband and I were guests for a first dry run and tasting last Sunday. One look at the menu and I was in trouble: this isn't the usual selection of pancakes and French toast. I wanted everything, except the Pain Perdu, croissant bread pudding, because it came with bananas (among the only foods I can't abide). There was a Croque Madame on brioche with Gruyere, eggs sunny-side up and applewood smoked ham from Nueske's; corn pudding and potato pancakes. Exercising a modicum of self control, we went with three dishes for sharing. He chose scrambled eggs (local and organic) with duck confit and sauteed onions. I selected the hash which featured house-made corn beef, potatoes and peppers. Both were outstanding. And then there were the cheese blintzes, light, golden, pillowy and worthy of the official babushka seal of approval.
The extra touches here push everything way beyond the ordinary. The blintzes come with luscious Abby's Orchard fruit preserves, made in town from local fruit by Lisa Battista. Cheese curds for the Montreal-inspired poutine are produced in-house. Mark's in charge of smoking the salmon for the gravlax platter and the pork loin that's served with the Benedicts (there are two versions). He has plans to try his hand at making cream cheese, too.
Combine good food with a classy start to the day with drinks including Bellinis, mimosas and passion fruit sour, and you have the ingredients for a exceptionally fine day of rest. Post-brunch naps recommended, but not required.