Smoke Burns Their Brunch Competition

Yesterday, I made love to Don Draper.

He was gentle when he needed to be gentle, and he was rough in all the right places. We talked. We caressed. And as I laid there in his 3,000-thread count sheets and watched him pour me another Scotch, I knew that I would never make love like this again.

Until next week, when I make love to Don Draper once more.

You see, when I say "made love to Don Draper," I really mean "ate brunch at Smoke." Is it cliche to make sex and food comparisons? Yes, it is. But after eating biscuits and gravy drizzled with barbecue sauce, a cheese grits and hominy casserole and a pile of cold-smoked ham washed down with what is, and there is no question in my mind here, the absolute highest quality Bloody Mary on the planet, I struggle to envision something I would enjoy more. Just now, the only thing that comes to mind is a thorough going-around with the face of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce.

Sitting down at our corner table and perusing the menu, it was as if Don had asked me, "Would you like to make love in my posh office, after lunch at the Waldorf, or perhaps we could swing by a client's vacant pied a terre overlooking Central Park and see if the door's unlocked?" Naturally, I would answer, "Don, why don't you just take the afternoon off and we can see about doing all of those things?" But I have neither the stamina nor the fiscal fortitude to order, say, the broiled raw sugar grapefruit and the brisket (!) omelet and the smoked salmon eggs Florentine.

Unsure of what I was doing but anxious to hop in Smoke's big, barbecued bed, I went with the biscuits and gravy, side of cheese grits and hominy casserole. And oh, how I was satisfied! Fluffy, thick biscuits and a milky, steaming-hot sausage gravy would have gotten me where I needed to go, but the drizzle of barbecue sauce made my toes go numb.

Is it weird, because of the Draper sex metaphor, to say that I think the Man O' The Hour enjoyed himself as much as I did? He opted for the farm fresh eggs breakfast (poached), a chicken sausage and even more of the cheese grits and hominy casserole, a staple which really should be ordered alongside anything one eats at Smoke. It's chunky; it's cheesy; and it's ch-exy as hell. Draper-approved.

So yeah, the food was really good. It was like really good regular sex with Don Draper. But the Bloody Marys, they were like, Don Draper reaches into his bag of tricks and does this thing where you are like, oh my god Don Draper, no wonder you pull so hard. Smoke's Bloodys -- made with an in-house mix concocted by Tim Byres and Chris Jeffers -- came in an icy cold glass with a seasoned-salted rim and were speared with pickled green beans, carrots and a jalapeno. All of which Smoke pickles its ownself.

Thick and tomatoey, Smoke's Marys are not the kind of Marys you suck down to their spicy bottom in a race to drunk. These demand slow sipping. These are the kinds of Bloody Marys that would make trans-Atlantic flight in 1963 tolerable. These are the kinds of Bloody Marys where you would say, hold on Don Draper, I know you want to make love right now, but I need to finish this delicious brunch beverage first. Have a Lucky Strike, and I'll be with you in a moment, Don.

And much like a night out with Don Draper, wherein he's able to expense everything but the new brassiere you'll need the next day, Smoke brunch will not break your bank. (Just your bra clasp.) Entrees hover around $15 once you get all the fixin's in, and many dishes (broiled grapefruit!) are $10 or less. I don't know how much the Bloody Marys cost, and frankly, I don't care. They're worth twice whatever Smoke is charging for them. In that way, I suppose, they're more like the underappreciated Peggy Olson than Don Draper. So head over to Smoke and let those 'Marys know what a good job they're doing.

901 Fort Worth Ave.

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