Trends with Benedicts
Charlottesville chefs love to put their own spins on a brunch basic
Eggs Benedict unites a crisp English muffin, savory Canadian bacon, decadent hollandaise sauce and two fluffy clouds of poached egg. No one knows for certain who first dreamed up this bedrock of the respectable brunch menu. And here in Charlottesville, it seems, no one can quite agree on the best way to make it. As this roundup reveals, poached eggs are a must, but everything else is up for grabs.
Chef Alex Terpilowski’s latest Benedict “hails from the New Orleans tradition,” he says. Its Big Easy namesake pairs artichokes with creamed spinach, but Terpilowski’s version combines housemade spinach-artichoke spread (with buttermilk and lemon for extra tanginess), eggs, a biscuit or muffin and grilled tomato. Terpilowski says he’s already thinking about his next Southern twist on the Benedict, and pondering ways to meld Hollandaise sauce with red-eye gravy.
Chorizo Benedict with avocado salad and jalapeño hollandaise
Hamiltons’ at First & Main
Chef Curtis Shaver and his kitchen compatriots were brainstorming new Benedict ideas when they remembered the Spanish dry chorizo they served with mussels at dinner. An avocado salad creates a nest that keeps the sausage and poached eggs on their housemade biscuit base. Jalapeños smoked for 20 minutes add slight heat to the avocado’s brightness, the chorizo’s spice and the eggs’ richness, Shaver says.
Blue Moon Diner
Six years ago, co-owners Laura Galgano and Franklin Rice Hall updated their weekend specials with a Benedict topped with hand-seasoned, six-hour braised pulled pork barbecue. It proved so popular that they not only kept it on the breakfast menu, but they took pulled pork sandwiches off the lunch menu; the breakfast version outsold its midday counterpart. “If we put an egg on something, people go crazy,” Galgano says.
Pork belly or sauteéd greens Benedicts
Commonwealth Restaurant & Skybar
Chef Reggie Calhoun trades English muffins or biscuits for buttery toasted brioche slices from Albemarle Baking Company. That base soaks up juices from either a tender, crispy, house-brined hunk of pork belly, or a sautéed mix of Swiss chard, Louisa living lettuces, baby spinach and cilantro. The water, lightly squeezed from the blend just before serving, Calhoun says, helps cut the richness of the eggs and hollandaise sauce: “You can taste the real flavor of the greens.”
The Hungry Norman, the Southern Belle, the Big Bad Wolf and more
Bluegrass Grill & Bakery
“I would run a whole restaurant of Benedicts if I could,” says Bluegrass owner Chrissy Benninger. Instead, she offers a battalion of regular and special Benedicts. The Hungry Norman, a previous chef’s invention involving goat cheese, blackberry jam and sausage links, began the Benedict bonanza about five years ago. Its many companions now include customer favorite the Southern Belle, a weekend-only mix of smoked Gouda pimiento cheese, chopped bacon and tomatoes, and jalapeño Hollandaise. Benninger also created a Brie, raspberry jam, ham and jalapeño Hollandaise combo to fit a name her 22-year-old son dreamed up: “Friends With Benedicts.”—NA
Keep it clean
If you’re trying to be health-conscious, brunch can be a real buzzkill. But it’s not all sugary syrups and pastry baskets. Here’s the good, better, best if you’re craving cleaner eats.
“I mean, it has spinach, so…”
Cafe Caturra’s spinach, tomato and cheddar omelet
A fluffy cheese omelet intermixed with greens and tomato overtop Caturra potatoes with a side of wheat toast. Don’t forgo a cup of the café’s locally roasted coffee to accompany.
Bizou’s vegetable frittata
Crimini mushrooms, tomatoes, onions and braised kale mingle in this brunch staple, topped off with a sprinkle of chèvre and drizzled with a red pepper coulis for just a hint of spice.
Fig’s vegan scramble
This mix of organic tofu with zucchini, tomatoes, onions, spinach and baby bellas shines. Add a side of avocado for three bucks and toss it on top for a creamy addition.