Food makes brunch worth the wait

Dinner_With_Liz_columnThis is my second visit to Rose & Sons. A stab at Sunday morning brunch was going to involve at least a 40-minute wait, so like any good food writer I gave up.
But I came back. Anthony Rose must be doing something right.

The restaurant is small and the chef is in full view in the open kitchen. I watch him slice and grill the tomatoes for the garnish for our first course: caesar salad made with grilled romaine and squash, tossed with a real anchovy dressing ($14). A grilled heel of bread with melted Toscano sits atop the salad, Rose’s bow to croutons.

There isn’t a false note anywhere — from the garlicky anchovy dressing (heaven help everyone I meet later) to that crusty crouton. And the romaine has been on the grill just long enough to lightly char the edges, adding a lovely smoky flavour. We share this generous portion. It could be a meal in itself, especially if you add the optional chicken (+$7).

The waiter suggests his two faves on the menu and we pay attention.

My guest chooses fried rice with egg, pork belly, ginger, peanuts and Chinatown sauce ($15). My choice is griddled brie cornbread, brisket, fried egg, maple syrup and chili sauce ($15).

My guest receives a large Chinese bowl filled with rice, that has lots of the lovely crunchy bits one normally finds at the bottom of the pot. The pork belly is crisp on the edges, the broccoli is still firm and green, the peanuts add yet another texture and small pieces of pickled ginger add their own zing. There’s a nice bite to the dish — not hot, but definitely zesty.

But she comments, “I guess that’s how they get the grains so crunchy but I think the rice is just a little oily.”

While I’m inclined to agree, I’ve never had fried rice that isn’t, or one that used the oil to such good effect. In fact, we both give it thumbs up.

When mine arrives, I almost want to dissect the elements. There’s so much going on in this dish! The cornbread is firm and very grainy, nicely grilled on the edges. It’s probably some of the best cornbread I’ve ever eaten. But with melted brie on top and maple syrup pooling with brisket juices and chili sauce underneath, it just gets better.

The brisket slice is thick and juicy, but I have to say I’m not a fan of the fat. It has become the fashion to serve cuts like this, fat and all, but I just don’t like fat. So I trimmed it off. The fried egg on top turned what would have been a dinner into a brunch dish, adding yet another flavour to the mix.

And what a mix! Somehow, this absurd mélange of flavours and ingredients comes together in delicious harmony. Despite the brisket fat and what seems to be a superfluous fried egg, we love it. I’d order this as a unique take on brunch too.

The portions are so generous we simply can’t finish it all. Nonetheless, we decide to share a dessert.

Desserts include a chocolate brownie, a pound cake banana split with pretzels, and our choice: bread pudding with a compote of wild blueberries ($9).

My own version of bread pudding involves strips of bread soaked in the sugar/egg/milk mixture then baked. This one is almost like a slice of French toast, with distinct edges and oh so creamy centre — not too sweet, even with the blueberries. The menu also offers this with bacon ($11), which would make a great brunch.

The coffee is strong Americano and the cream comes in little jugs, not disposable containers (endless plastic garbage is my personal beef). A nice finish.

Check the chalkboard for the wine list and the specials (today’s is a real hot turkey sandwich, which tempted me). And note that Rose & Sons is compact, so when it gets busy it’s noisy. There’s one server, so it can be slow. But this food is worth the wait.

Rose & Sons, 176 Dupont St. 647-342-0356, roseandsons.ca.