I’m not a marketing genius, but even I know Scratch Kitchen & Cocktails in Paseo should put their brunch menu online. And, like, tell people they’re open for brunch.
Because when my friends Julie and Kevin joined me there at 10 a.m. on Sunday a few weeks ago, there was no one else there. Well, that’s not totally true: there were cooks and a bartender and a server. But there weren’t any other customers, and as I understand it, those are somewhat important to restaurants.
And if we were at Angry Andy’s Bad Brunch Emporium, the lack of customers would make sense. But we were at Scratch and we ate so much food and it was AMAZING. We left stuffed to the gills because we couldn’t imagine leaving a single bite behind.
So I’m begging you, Scratch: Please, please, please put your brunch on your website. Please buy a Facebook ad (or, you know, an ad on a reasonably priced local food review website) and post about it on Twitter and keep brunch alive! There shouldn’t be an empty table in the restaurant on Sunday mornings. Not a one. And when they’re all full, then I’ll complain about how it used to be so easy to just walk in there but now everybody knows how awesome the brunch is.
If there are two things I love in this world, it’s pasta carbonara and deviled eggs. (Sorry you didn’t make the short list, my children.) Usually I check with my dining companions on shared appetizers, but I’m pretty sure I would have socked either of them in the mouth if I’d suggested carbonara deviled eggs ($13) and they’d refused.
If you haven’t had pasta carbonara before, know that you have angered me and probably whatever deities you worship. But also, know that carbonara sauce is a magical concoction of egg yolk, pancetta, black pepper and a hard cheese, like Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano.
In these eggs, you get a very pepper yolk with a crisp piece of pancetta and a toasted Parmesan crisp inside a lovely firm white. I was actually so busy enjoying my first bite that I forgot to growl and bare my teeth at Kevin and Julie to warn them away from eating any. C’est la vie.
The Scratch dip trio ($13) is tasty, but not a brunch-only item, so don’t feel like you must get it right then. That said, the warm onion dip, hummus and artichoke spreads were delightful, especially if you’re the kind of weirdo who doesn’t “fill up on several appetizers” or “require a non-medical wheelchair to leave a restaurant.”
Do you know that game at brunch where everybody orders something different and then you figure out who “won” the meal? Because we played that and it was both a very close match and a complete blowout.
Kevin ordered the kimchi hash ($15). Julie got an egg in a basket ($14). I opted for Norman’s favorite smothered chicken biscuit ($16). All were wonderful. Plates were licked clean.
But none of us came even a little close to beating the server, who suggested French toast sticks ($10).
Every single one of us took a bite of those French toast sticks and began cursing in foreign languages. Spontaneous inter-lingual profanity doesn’t just happen. It requires something utterly ridiculous, like thick slabs of brioche being dipped in egg and rolled in crushed Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal covered in a house-made chocolate hazelnut ganache is just over-the-top bonkers enough to do it.
There’s also warm maple syrup. Real syrup. Sucked out of a tree syrup. And you can dip the sticks in it and it makes them even more insanely good. Just...I want that again right now. And I’m not even a sweets-at-brunch kind of guy, but by the power of Greyskull, that was the stuff.
That’s not to give short shrift to the kimchi hash, which was simply fantastic. Kimchi is the miracle ingredient of now and it’s used to great effect here, stir-fried into bacon, zucchini and potatoes which are topped with a pair of eggs and a Korean red pepper hollandaise. The umami richness of the pickled cabbage gave it a steak-like flavor that I was all about.
And Julie’s order of egg in a basket was far better than it had any right to be. I love egg in a basket, but it’s also kind of boring. Fry an egg into a slice of bread? Yawn.
But Scratch put the egg in sourdough and then went absolute ape with toppings. Really good avocado. Heirloom tomatoes (you know, the kind that taste like tomatoes). Candied bacon. Fresh greens. Technically it was avocado toast, so we’re all homeless now, but it was worth it.
My smothered chicken biscuit had a lovely, fluffy biscuit on the bottom, a big honking piece of fried chicken in the middle and a deluge of creamy gravy and fried onions.
Maple and chipotle might not be the most natural pairing of flavors for a cream gravy, but they were like Murtaugh and Riggs on this dish: they got the job done.
The whole dish was extremely rich, but I never wanted to stop eating it, which is a pretty good balancing act.
You should go to this brunch. And you should tell your server, “Hey, did you know your brunch menu isn’t online?” And he or she will say, “Did Greg send you?” And then you just order food and don’t cause any more trouble, because I’m sure they’ll figure it out eventually.
In the meantime? Enjoy having the restaurant to yourself.