In his 1965 dissertation, Geoffrey Gorer wrote of the “ethical duty to enjoy oneself” that seemed to permeate Americans’ collective attitude toward death. This attitude, Gorer explained, contributed to the rejection of public displays of grief and mourning. Analogously, this attitude has the potential to explain Americans’ relatively recent and fevered embrace of the weekend brunch. It’s not just a meal, brunch, but rather a span of time when people can actively and aggressively enjoy themselves: They can order the a.m. booze, put the phone on silent and ease into what is likely the seventh state of human consciousness.
Braindead Brewing knows this. Their entire business model appeals to the human drive for personal enjoyment. Outside, picnic tables encourage spending a few sunny hours with friends. Inside, fermenters of craft beer abound. Braindead also has a menu that extends beyond mere bar food and embraces real ingredients and big flavors. More recently, Braindead introduced brunch service on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The menu is ambitious for a brewery, with options like sourdough corn pancakes topped with buttermilk fried chicken ($13), rosemary cheddar biscuits with house-made andouille sausage and gravy ($14), and duck omelets ($15).
On omelets, Julia Child said that "a good French omelet is a smooth, gently swelling, golden oval that is tender and creamy inside." Braindead does not claim their duck omelet ($15) to be French in origin, but they still manage to capture the beautiful, butter-yellow swell of its French equivalent. The duck eggs are a nice selling point, but the omelet was too thick, resulting in a slightly sturdier texture than one would have liked. Tucked inside the omelet’s sunny exterior lay a treasure-trove of salty duck bacon (think gamey, fatty pancetta), grassy goat cheese and a veg-tastic mix of spinach, tomatoes and red onion. The omelet was topped with cabbage slaw which added a nice freshness. And the side of onion hash browns are not to be missed: a tangle of onions, sliced skeletally thin, is amassed and then pan-fried until crispy and brown. Paired with a tart cider or mimosa, this is one brunch dish that is on its grade AA game.
The smoked brisket hash ($15) takes cubed sweet potatoes and sautés them with fresh poblano and red peppers. This potato-pepper mixture is used as the base for hunks of sexy, smoky brisket, cheddar and a fried egg. The potato-pepper mixture satisfies, but the brisket, like the Donald Trump of brunch food, steals the show with every bite. Pair this hearty dish with something bold like an IPA or a stout.
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At noon, the tables are full and the mood is high as glasses are filled, pancakes are served and agendas are paused. It seems that having brunch at Braindead Brewing is one ethical duty everyone is eager to embrace. And why the hell not? Braindead reminds us that life is short, and that we should eat good food and drink good beer before the meter runs out*.
*This is not a metaphor. Do not let the parking meter expire or you will be fined.