Being a foodie blogger has many fringe benefits. I am able to make dates with my girls to join me for a lunch and other times I have invited D along to an opening or special dinner event. J1 and J2 have even had the opportunity to “sub in” for us on a culinary tour of the Muskokas. Rarely am I able to invite the entire family along to an event, but this past weekend we “almost” all got to participate. My readers know how important family is to me and how I love to spread around the benefits of my wonderful life. Last week, Chef Matt Frost of Earl’s on Main St. inquired whether we were available to join him at his Chef’s Table to sample their new Brunch menu. The weekend was already very, very full but we were so glad to have agreed.
Chef Matt met us at the entrance to the private dining room and we were delighted to have a separate area to ourselves. It is not that we are rabble rousers or anything, quite the opposite in fact.
We wanted to make sure that Wee One, who was accompanying us, didn’t give one of her urgent cries and disturb guests around us. Coffee and mimosas were poured all around and we settled in to a brunch extravaganza.
First up were Cream Cheese Cinnamon Buns which we were told will be served to everyone who joins the good folks at Earl’s for brunch. Had it been the only thing that I knew that I would be eating that morning, I would have enjoyed every gooey morsel but anticipating that there was more ahead, allowed me to restrain myself after a taste. I love a good yeasty and cinnamony bun, pure and simple, so I considered the frosting overkill, but I know that those of you with a sweet-tooth with go gaga for them.
Matt then explained that a key component to the brunch menu was their crusty sourdough bread. Matt created the starter himself and so you will know that whenever you tear into the flavourful loaf, no matter when in the future, you will be eating something that he created for your dining pleasure.
When made into French Toast, we loved that the flesh of the loaf was airy but the crust was crunchy and full of ridges to make it even more so. The Chantilly cream, berry puree, real maple syrup and butter, were the icing on the cake-literally.
We mistakenly thought that the frittata that came out next would be with a potato base (potato lover that I am). J2 clarified that a frittata is simply a quiche without the crust. This one is its own cast iron frying pan which kept it piping hot. I particularly appreciated the nuggets of goat cheese when offset by the glistening green chives, which was likely added for a colourful garnish but was what I thought, an essential ingredient for my tastes.
The Croque Madame was declared to be the favourite of many of our family members. In short, it was a grilled ham and Swiss cheese sandwich that had been crowned with a rich yolked Omega 3 poached egg and surrounded by a Serrano cream sauce.
While in France, D and I took every opportunity to order a Croque Monsieur which the Parisians often have in a cafe as a snack. The addition of the poached egg makes the Monsieur, a Madame.
Matt plans his tasting menu to serve the richest and heartiest dish last. I would have selected it as my favourite, no matter when it had been placed in front of me, combining many of my favourite brunch foods into one dish. Officially titled Chorizo + Mushroom Hash, the dish was exceedingly more delicious than its name. The base of the hash were Yukon Gold Potatoes that had been roasted and smashed and then tossed in a garlic confit. The poached egg and field mushrooms enhanced the dish but not, in my mind at least, to the extent that the delicate hollandaise and clever addition of avocado slices did. The inclusion of breakfast sausage would have been an insult to this dish, instead the choice of chorizo was brilliant.
You are certain that you have consumed beautifully created food when even the plate that is being cleared away is beautiful.
Many restaurants are judged at brunch by their Eggs Benedict and Earl’s are sublime. The substitution of thinly sliced Virginia ham rather than thick Canadian bacon, matched the delicacy of the poached eggs in a more appropriate manner. The same potatoes as the ones utilized in the hash, accompanied the dish. Heaven, I am m in heaven…… Each time I go out for brunch I have to specially request that my hash browns be served crispy without being deep fried to extermination. If I simply go to Earl’s in the future, I will never have to make that request again.
As desert and to demonstrate a lighter offering, Greek yoghurt layered with home-made granola and berries arrived. The inclusion of fresh mint and agave syrup elevated this Earl’s dish above the version that I prepare at home (yes-I even make my own granola).
Earl’s Brunch Menu is available at all Winnipeg locations on weekends and holidays. Thanksgiving weekend would be a perfect time to go, but don’t wait that long.
Kath’s quote: “All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast.”-John Gunther
Love-that is all.