By Elizabeth Woessner | Online Editor
There is something wonderful about a long, leisurely Saturday morning brunch. It gets the weekend started with great food, great friends, and lots of laughter. This past weekend, a group of us got together for the inaugural brunch service at the newly opened Brazen in North Highlands.
As we slowly wandered into the rustic, warm welcoming space and gathered around the central community table, our server Kim greeted us with a giant smile and a firm handshake. Pitchers of Pimm’s Cup–a refreshing punch made with Pimm’s No. 1, strawberries, cucumber, mint, and Sprite–and Bloody Marys were quickly delivered and poured. Over the course of the next two hours everyone on the Brazen staff stopped by the table to see to our needs and join in our fun.
Christopher Sargent, the owner of Brazen, is a front-of-the-house veteran, with a resume that includes two of Denver’s most acclaimed restaurants, rioja and Acorn. His vast experience is evident in adeptness of his entire staff that truly appeared to want nothing more than to make sure we were happy and satisfied. Heading up the kitchen at Brazen is Lance Barto who was the opening chef at Central Bistro and Bar. He has created a multi-national, seasonal menu for dinner, late night eats (they are open until 2am), and brunch. We decided to go ahead and order everything on the menu.
First came a dozen oysters on the half shell–Calm Cove oysters from the West Coast and from the East Coast, the bigger and slightly boulder Malpeques oysters from Prince Edward Island.
Then we devoured a plate, or maybe two, of cinnamon sugar-dusted doughnuts stuffed with warm, oozy Nutella.
There are currently seven dishes on the brunch menu and one special and they manage to cover all the bases. The brunch special was a Biscuits Benedict with a pair of melt-in-your-mouth housemade biscuits, topped with pit ham, two perfectly poached eggs, and hollandaise sauce. The Simple Man’s Breakfast was all that and more, featuring three eggs, cooked to order, a pile of five pieces of bacon, and sautéed potatoes. The Croque Madame was a supercharged melted ham and cheese sandwich, with a heap of smoked pit ham, Mornay sauce, cheddar cheese, and finished with a sunnyside-up egg. The whole wheat Buttermilk Pancakes had a slightly earthy flavor while remaining light and fluffy and were topped with strawberry-raspberry compote, toasted hazelnut butter, crushed hazelnuts, and whipped cream.
The standout stars of our Saturday brunch heralded the flavors of Vietnam. The Brazen Ramen was a deeply-colored broth chock-a-block full of housemade noodles, roasted pork belly, Enoki mushrooms, charred corn, and so much more with a perfectly poached egg floating in the middle. The Bánh Mì came slathered in chicken liver, topped with succulent braised pork and julienned carrots, cucumbers, peppers, and cabbage, and served with a side of peanuts, cucumber, and mint.
Sargent has clearly achieved his goal of creating an “approachable, unpretentious atmosphere that is perfect for any occasion or no occasion at all.” If Brazen’s first ever brunch service is an indication, I am confident there will be many more Brazen brunches in my future.