Brunch at Cavan
I haven’t taken an official poll, but I think we might have just found our reigning ‘favorite brunch stop.’ From the ambiance, to the service, to the food, Cavan is pretty much everything I’ve ever dreamed brunch could be. Situated in what was once the Cockerton mansion (and interestingly enough, also the former home of famous police superintendent Frank T. Mooney for you history buffs), Cavan has a definite Southern grandeur kind of vibe, with a bit of funky thrown in. A rare combination that leaves you feeling like you’re doing something fancy, but also get to act completely casual.
The house has open seating and outdoor tables, but we were lucky enough to snag the private room off the kitchen. The décor was simple and unique, with a modern South kind of vibe. Even the silverware was all different, hand-selected from flea markets and estate sales. A nice touch that made the whole experience feel homey. The service was top notch. Our waitress could (and did) explain the entire menu. She knew when to give us space and knew when to be part of the conversation. Her recommendations were honest, not just a parrot repeating back the mandatory ‘specials of the day’ sales pitch. Going off our last group brunch experience at Brick & Spoon, I was ready to write a folk song in her honor right at the table.
The drink selection is good, a mix of classic Southern options and some in-house originals. The fast-becoming-standard-over-the-top bloody Mary is noticeably absent, but honestly it wasn’t missed. (Though, they can make you one.) Instead, most of our group got the espresso milk punch, a creamy, addicting blend of espresso liquor, chicory and bourbon. It was delicious and incredibly popular (we got the last of the batch at 11:30).
So far, everything was going good. Nice table. Killer wait staff. Good, strong drinks. I was kind of waiting for the other shoe to drop. It almost felt too good to be true. But then the food came. The food at this place, ya’ll. Between six of us we managed to get three appetizers, eight main courses, a handful of sides, and three desserts and it was all amazing. Cavan offers a good selection of unique house dishes, like the Cavan Croque Madame, a towering display of house andouille, caramelized onions, crispy greens and a fried egg. It looked like art and tasted like I’d died and gone to Southern food heaven, but the real standouts are dishes that are never standouts anywhere else.
Take, for example, the waffles. I like waffles. I’ve ordered waffles at nearly every brunch place I can think of, and I’m always promised a lot: fantastic toppings, homemade sauces. What I get is rarely more than an afterthought. Some soggy, waffle-shaped, boring thing that is the bastard child of the glorious carb overload I envisioned. These waffles were different. These waffles made up for every time I’ve ever been let down. Gorgeous, fluffy things floating on a bed of orange sauce, topped with goat cheese, bacon and warm chocolate sauce.
The seafood cocktail was massive. Stuffed to the brim with fresh, simple, and addictingly-good seafood and layered with a perfect cocktail sauce. The smoked salmon was so light and fresh I found myself judging every other piece of salmon I’ve ever ordered. Even the granola--which we only got after our waitress insisted (that will be going in my folk song)--was great. A huge bowl of Greek yogurt layered with some of the freshest, yummiest fruit I’ve had in a while. While the regular menu isn’t going to let you down, you really, truly, absolutely shouldn’t skip dessert. Dessert is something I usually pass on, fully expecting some dry, previously frozen cake covered in bland sauce, but Ruby Bloch is a pastry-badass. On top of making a different layer cake everyday (you can even suggest one) and having the most perfectly-balanced key lime pie in the world, she makes the brownie. Ya’ll. I love this brownie. Immediately upon eating this brownie I decided to spend the rest of my life working just so I could earn money to come back here and order more brownies. Aptly called the State Fair Brownie, this gift from the pastry gods is a not-too-sweet chocolate brownie, topped with a layer of bruleed Rice Krispie treat (seriously) and then finished off with a salted popcorn ice cream. Overall, we found nothing to complain about. If you haven’t been yet, go. Go now. And when you get there, tell my brownie I love him.