Where to eat the first meal of the day on a weekend is taken as seriously among my crowd as the burial vs. cremation decision. Although there are many places that make a nice early-in-the-day food spread around town, the largest concentration of ones with good reputations are in the heavily foot trafficked/ late-riser portion of town, namely downtown on the East side. So if you straggle that way an estimated 45 minute wait can be very standard and often very inaccurate. It would seem, then, that what the city needs would be a new place, good at what they do, to start offering something resembling a brunch, ideally as far from the breakfast neighborhoods as possible.
We (Wife, Bear, Celery, and I) went to Cookshop for lunch on Saturday and were very pleased. Brunch need not be fancy, all it takes to make great eggs benedict is a good hollandaise and not over-poaching the eggs. The only real way to get it wrong is to try to jazz it up. So we tend to like places that leave the old brunch script behind and make food according to the restaurant's individual philosophy, with a couple of egg dishes added. This is exactly what Cookshop has done. No pancakes, no eggs benedict, just breakfast and lunch made from local, whole ingredients in their slow American way.
We all started with a bloody each. A simple, respectable example, it benefited from not being made individually to order (a horrible practice) so it had come together and the tastes had had a chance to harmonize.
For the rest of the meal, the '01 Nuits St. George by Jean Chauvenet seemed like it would play best with our selections and it did well. A little on the extracted side, there was good red fruit and well-harmonized tannin and acid light enough for breakfast but defined enough to match up with egg yolks.
For breakfast I started with Potato horseradish soup & chive crème fraiche. Lighter in texture and flavor than the name suggests, I would not necessarily pair it with a Bloody Mary again as the soup was lost against it.
What are you to do when three things from the main section of the menu appeal to you and it is the start of the day? Have the one most easy to split as an appetizer and split it with someone. Wife and I shared the soup and split the Grass fed mini burgers, Vermont cheddar, onion rings, fries, chipotle ketchup & a Guss' pickle as our other appetizer.
Grass-fed beef may never be as soft as wagyu or as fatty as prime, but boy is it flavorful. The accoutrements for this little slider would have walked all over the beef typically being used these days. Here, though, there is a strong matching of sharp cheddar, ketchup with the warm reminders of capsicum, and a rather sweet roll, with the very flavorful almost mineral tang of good beef.
For my main dish, I went with Chilaquiles: 3eggs, corn tortillas, red mole, crème fraiche cheddar and cilantro. A clear nod to Huevos Rancheros, it was solid. The dish was made interesting by being baked all together in a casserole rather than being composed of stacked ingredients which had been cooked separately. I was happy to have had it and it was hearty, but I feel I can easily move on to more things on the menu.
What matters on weekend afternoons is; good morning drinks, comfort, dependability, and a manageable wait. Cookshop does a very worthy weekend afternoon lunch. I'll be back.