I tell you what, Chef Samir Mohammad was on a roll Saturday in his little crow’s nest of a post at the center of The Village Cork, which was doing a mock service in advance of the debut, next weekend, of brunch.
Having said before that I think breakfast & brunch represent nothing so much as missed opportunities by the majority of American chefs—on menu after menu, the same narrow, interchangeable array of dishes comprised of the same limited number of ingredients; where’s the Turkish-style spread or the Malaysian morning fare?—it’s amazing how far just a little ingenuity, a few simple upgrades to & twists on the standard, can go. Mohammad—who knows better than most how to maximize—has come up with a selection of dishes that actually, truly appeals to me top to bottom. French toast laced with cream cheese & custard & brown sugar & pecans & whipped cream? That’s a lot of awesome. Stuffed, baked camembert-cheddar sandwiches with tomato soup? I can’t quite even picture that yet, except in my belly.
But it took all of 30 seconds after receiving menus for the Director & I to immediately zero in on the same 2 items: biscuit-cut brioche in duck-sausage gravy
& a take on Benedict that layered more brioche rounds with slices of truffled duck-liver mousse, beautifully fried eggs & Hollandaise.
As we were polishing off the last few bites, Mohammad came over to our table & expressed dissatisfaction with the brioche; he thought this particular batch was too dry. What could I say? The crust was crusty, the way I like it by definition; if the interior wasn’t in fact tender on its own, we sure couldn’t tell, since our share was draped in the velvet folds of classically executed sauces—butter & yolk or cream & duckfat in all the right places, yeah. That both dishes came with the platonic ideal of home fries—carefully cut, crisp but not dripping with grease & tossed with slippery bits of onion & pepper—was just the frosting on the cake.
And the icing roses were a duo of madeleines atop a pool of lemon glaze for dipping.
In our interview for Eat Drink Denver, Mohammad had shared with me his hopes that opening for brunch would help stanch the bleeding on Old South Pearl following the new year’s string of closures. Between that & the arrival of Salumeria Cinque Soldi, the ‘hood is already looking more like its old self for sure.