Sunday, February 8, 2009

Brunch at Char No. 4

Yesterday, Steve and I made a return trip to Char No. 4 for brunch. During my first trip, I enjoyed Char's dinner menu, and the brunch menu was just as meat-heavy and rich.

I mentioned the six-person booths but I didn't mention that the only other seating in the dining room besides the booths are two-tops running along one wall. When we arrived around 10:30-10:45, all the two-tops were full (there are only about six of them), but several booths were empty. I wasn't at all surprised when the hostess said a wait for a two-top would be 20 minutes but we could sit at the bar as the full brunch menu was available there. Now this irks me on one hand but on the other hand it makes sense. The irks comes from the feeling that as a customer, I should be seated if there is a table available. But the sensible thing is to hold booths for larger parties.

But eating at bars has never bothered me, so I gladly sat there rather than wait for a table in the dark back room. We were the first customers who had been relegated to the bar, but by the time we left, almost every bar stool was occupied and all the tables in the back were full.

We skipped the $16 fixed price brunch option (which doesn't include a mimosa or Bloody Mary like so many NYC brunches) and ordered single entrees. I got the cheesy bacon grits with poached egg, and Steve got the special hash of the day which was made from the same meat that they use for the hot beef link. We had an order of thick cut bacon and a biscuit on the side.

We both really enjoyed our food. The grits were wonderful - creamy, cheesy, just the right amount of seasoning, and studded with tiny pieces of delectable bacon. The eggs were sitting on top of the grits in a plain white bowl. Everything was topped with finely chopped scallions.

Steve's hash was delicious and full of flavor. There was a mustard sauce of some sort underneath the hash and it was topped with a poached egg. His was much more savory than my dish but we loved both.

The thick-cut bacon was just the same was what Donna had at dinner sans the black eyed peas. We only ate one strip and brought the other one home which I heated up in a skillet for breakfast this morning. The biscuit is more like a biscuit scone. It was good but not a light and fluffy traditional biscuit. It was served with a yummy apple "jam." It was really less like jam and more like chopped up baked apples with cinnamon and honey. It was hard to top the biscuit with the apples since they only wanted to fall off, but I ate them up with my fork.

Since we were sitting at the bar, we had a front row seat to watch the bartenders make up plenty of bourbon chipotle Bloody Marys for the more daring diners. They tried selling us one, but neither of us were in the mood for anything stronger than coffee. I asked what one drink was as I watched the bartender make it and he said it was a Horse Drawn Carriage. It had a shot of bourbon, pear cider, and lemon. Hmm, might have to try one of those someday.

We really enjoyed breakfast and will certainly go back. Cost was more expensive than the diner, and we didn't even have a brunch-time alcoholic drink, but well worth it. Delicious food a distinctive step away from typical brunch fare.

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