Brunch Restaurant Review: South Village Grille
South Village Grille made its debut on Thurman earlier this year, opening in the former home of the longstanding Easy Street Cafe. The project is part of the same restaurant group that hosts Old Skool and Local Cantina. All the same, South Village couldn’t be more different from its cohorts. While the co-establishments are hang-outs, South Village Grille has a more upscale panache. It’s downright uptown, with elegant brick walls lined with giant tilted mirrors that reflect down on the dining and bar areas.
And when it comes to brunch, it constitutes a bona fide destination point. You only need one dish to be a destination restaurant (consider the neighboring Thurman Burger), and South Village has several potential draws. None are more powerful than the French Toast ($12). A thick slab of crispy-edged, sweet, white chocolate bread pudding forms a foundation for . . . not wimpy whipped cream, but a scoop of vanilla ice cream and bourbon infused syrup. Honestly the sheer frankness of the dairy choice makes it a winner. Why pretend that cinnamon rolls and syrupy pancakes are somehow a more wholesome breakfast than something with ice cream? Ice cream at least delivers milk in the mix.
As you might expect, the combo is transcendent — a fantasy breakfast. It’s teamed with two long, thick, lean pieces of bacon, and it’s fancy bacon (when asked, the server said they hand-slice it). With a characteristic brininess, the bacon is every bit as enthusiastically consumable as the sugary entree.
That’s quite an opener, isn’t it? There are Beignets, too ($7, from a sharable section). Giant, fryer-fresh puff-balls, fully coated in powdered sugar. The fried shell forms a crunchy crust that wraps around the pastries, collapsing into sweet bready heaven.
Perhaps something less sugary? How about crab? Densely populated with the shellfish, and held together with seasoned breading, Crab Cake Benny ($14) has rounds that sit on springy English muffin bases with velvety poached eggs and a rich hollandaise to tie it all together. There is a salad of tender arugula off to the side, in a tidy little scoop.
Or perhaps Croque Madame Toast: like the aforementioned crab cake option, it’s a stacked pile of goodness. This time, it’s build on ciabatta, with folds of ham, onion, sunny side up eggs, and another excellently executed, rich parmesan béchamel to hold it together. In both cases, the luxe sauce makes the sum greater, much greater, than the parts. It’s all the joys of gravy in a fancier context.
For dessert (and no, the French Toast was not a dessert), there are Warm Chocolate Chip Cookies ($6), right out of the oven with the characteristic fleeting crisp edge and soft center. Crowned with a shake of salt, they sit in a lovely puddle of caramel that will forever wreck you for regular cookies and milk.
The brunch menu expands into non-breakfasty items such as pizza and salads too. For the liquid crew, the cocktail menu includes the required traditional Bloody Mary. Edgier types might branch out into a little something called Saint’s Blood: Watershed vodka, blood orange juice, St. Germain and prosecco ($8).
The brunch menu is a weekend feature, offered Saturdays and Sundays starting at 10 a.m. You can find South Village Grille at 197 Thurman Ave.
*For non-brunchers, both the cookies and the beignets are available as desserts on the dinner menu.
For more information, visit www.southvillagegrille.com.