I have a love-hate relationship with brunch, and I often find myself writing a pro/con list in my head on the days that time allows such a luxury. My con list is long. Brunch food is often over-priced. If it’s good (locally-sourced, contains goat cheese and a patio is involved), there’s usually a wait. And there’s the sweat pants factor; by choosing to go to brunch, I’m committing to getting out of bed and moving forward in my day like a real life adult. Going out to brunch means that day-long Mad Men marathons get put on hold, and that I have to brush my teeth and leave the house. (Tell me I’m not alone in this.) And as a rule, the more awesome the brunch place, the farther it is from Clintonville. (Skillet, Katalina’s Cafe Corner, The Worthington Inn.)
There are cons to staying in, as well, though most of them deal with the lack of a bartender to deliver bloody marys and mimosas to my table. (There’s also the clean up process; I end up using every utensil in my house when I make brunch.) And when I dine at home, I’m much more likely to spill French press in my bed (where I’ll retreat post-meal for *just one more* Mad Men episode.)
Ever since my roommate taught me to poach an egg (hint: use vinegar and don’t break the yellow part), I’ve been looking forward to any opportunity to hone in on the skill, and the picture above is my go-to: my take on eggs benedict using fresh goat cheese, ham, an Ohio apple and this easy-to-make scallion sauce that I discovered earlier in the summer. It’s never as beautiful as something that I’d get at a favorite restaurant, but it’s about half the price and takes a fraction of the time as it would to commute, get a table, order and wait.
This past Sunday, though, Ben and I decided to do it up and let someone else do the cooking. While we discussed the strengths and weaknesses of the usual far-from-Clintonville suspects, I suddenly remembered Sage. Within walking distance (but like good Americans, we drove) and complete with things we like (a bar, seasonal food, poached eggs, etc.) we gave our dinner-and-drinks spot a chance at treating us for brunch. The parking lot was packed, but we got a table up front and were forced to narrow down our options (I wanted four separate entrees) to two. Pictured above is the restaurant’s version of benedict, with duck confit, spinach (healthy!) and red peppers. Duck (the food, not the Mad Men character) and I have been on bad terms since I tried to cook one. Sage reunited us with this dish. Thank you, Sage.
I tricked Ben into ordering my second choice, Fried Eggs and Johnny Cakes, by pointing out that it contained pickled cabbage. Bacon, chorizo aioli and green onions joined the cabbage atop perfectly-textured corn meal pancakes. I stole two bites and was awed.
Sage is now a real contender in my weekly internal debate, as it evens out some of the going-to-brunch cons; it’s close to home and is well priced (most entrees were less than $10; we chose the two most expensive meals, at $11 and $12). And while we were late to the Sage brunch train (judging from the line that formed at the door after we were seated, it seemed like everyone in Clintonville already knew about the awesomeness in our back yard before I did), we decided that the answer to quick seating and service is to be early to brunch. Now if only I could get them to play episodes of Mad Men while I slurp on mimosas, all of my lazy day Sunday dilemmas would be solved.
Sage American Bistro
2653 North High St