Jeff Smith 2 p.m., April 16
Empire House Brunch
Hillcrest's "urban palate" serves a commendable breakfast at a fair price
I’ve said nice things about Empire House before, mostly because I think the kitchen there manages above-average execution of the staple dishes that makes up the menu. It took me forever and a day to make it into EH for brunch, but I had the chance to put the restaurant’s breakfast credentials to the test over the weekend.
As with dinner, the menu was on the shorter side, though all the important bases were covered. Longingly, I tried to wrap my head around the idea of a “Benedict burger” ($13.95), but I wasn’t prepared for a hamburger with an order of eggs benedict on top. Since I already know EH’s burgers are to my liking, I reverse engineered the problem by trying the normal eggs benedict ($10).
The eggs were delicately poached and the ham had been sliced thickly. The Hollandaise, while imperfect, was still better than average (which says much of the typical quality of of Hollandaise sauce) and could at least claim rich flavor and a luxuriant texture. Perhaps the biggest surprise was that the side of home fries was served hot. Time and time again, I’m served cool, if not outright cold, sides of potatoes with my breakfast. Getting a piping hot pile of same was a delight.
I must try that Benedict smothered burger. Perhaps some day when I have someone to drive me home afterwards.
Surveying the menu, I liked the look of the “ninja’s nest” (fries covered in bacon, cheese, and a fried egg for $8), as well as the “poor man’s scramble,” which made use of hot dogs, potatoes, and cheddar cheese in a self-consciously white trash departure from conventional breakfast meats. Interestingly, EH’s brunch plates often include side dishes, which normally command an additional premium at the restaurant during dinner hours. The agreeable pricing only serves to strengthen my recommendation of Empire House as a solid destination, now for any mealtime.
127 University Avenue
Breakfast at 7AM on weekends only