Brunches have become the new lunches around here, or so it seems. The delights of merging two delicious yet thematically contrasting meals can't be overstated. It's been a blast to watch how each restaurant breaking into this trend is putting its own unique stamp on it.
There are few venues where the build-up and excitement have been as great as with Table 310 on West Short Street. We all love its terminally cool vibe and design, even in broad daylight, and we all know that the menu is consistently, unpretentiously creative at night. How would this formula play with a different meal and format?
The answer is, in one word, fabulous.
At Table 310's brunch, there are endless bowls of freshly brewed Caffe Marco coffee from Paris (Kentucky, not France) with demerara sugar cubes and bright mimosas with freshly squeezed orange juice. Antioxidant cocktails with blueberry and vodka are sweet and a lovely shade of blue-violet; I actually preferred them to the bloody Marys that are nicely boozy, but pulpy and liberally laced with whole fennel seeds and coarsely ground black pepper.
The menu is small but well thought-out. Bring a few friends so you can sample almost everything.
I loved the salad to start. It was a lightly dressed, bright green prelude to the richer dishes to come, and a subtle reminder that strawberry garnish can add juicy sweetness as well as color.
Potatoes belong at brunch, especially these salty golden ones fried in duck fat, crisp shards and hearty chunks, with minced chives scattered on top. Bacon is another essential of a decadent brunch, particularly when it comes from Stone Cross Farms near Taylorsville and is served up chewy.
Eggs here are wonderful, too. Their sunny orange yolks may be runny and over-easy on the basic brunch plate with toast and real grape jam, or they might crown a croque madame, sunny side up, over cotto ham layered on toast bathed in bechamel sauce.
The quail is a perfect marriage of the breakfast/lunch concept. This tiny bird filled with squishy brioche stuffing and drizzled with roasted grapes is a midday meal entrée, of course, but the piping hot Johnnycakes on the side — cornmeal's legitimate rebuttal to the pancake — remind us that breakfast is merely late, not forgotten.
Yet for spectacular presentation and execution, there is nothing like Table 310's Belgian waffles. They rise an inch high, since the batter has Champagne in it. The deep crevices hold droplets of Nutella chocolate-hazelnut spread, bits of strawberry purée and a scattering of chopped, toasted hazelnuts. Like sentries beside them are two columns of bananas, bruléed to a caramel sweetness on top.
Finally, even if you're a bit buzzed and think waffles cover dessert, it would be silly to pass up that last course. Take courage. Share one. Pastry chef Stella Parks obviously has concocted something special for you.
The afternoon of this review that treat was roasted strawberry ice cream, Philadelphia-style — meaning no eggs. It was topped with Chantilly cream that was crafted like a mountain peak, but the sturdy architecture belied the fact that this was an airy, fluffy, creamy cloud of chocolate, scattered with Parks' signature homemade sprinkles.
The personality of brunch is different from that of happy hour and dinner, and many restaurants are not chameleon-like enough to morph successfully. But Table 310 has stayed faithful to its style and standards while reinventing its menu for the late-morning palate.
Wendy Miller is a Lexington-based food and spirits writer and critic.