When Skillet swung open its doors, I was so thrilled with its muscular and brilliant cooking that I overlooked its minor inconveniences.
Like unsure service, eat-in food delivered in to-go boxes, and a lack of supper hours. No, those new-restaurant kinks couldn't restrain me from championing Skillet or frequenting the place so much I had to finally swear it off for a while.
So when this week's Alive brunch cover story was proposed, I was eager to report on Skillet's version to see if my early enthusiasm would be borne out. Well, it turns out, Skillet's huge portions and even huger flavors translate into my absolute favorite brunch in Columbus.
With its terrific sourced ingredients and risk-taking recipes, Skillet creates food that's powerful, creative and totally handmade. In fact, the only reason Skillet's not grouped in my aforementioned list (see page 28) is because it doesn't quite fit the pampering family weekend brunch mold.
Because while actual plates are now used here, and service has vastly improved, the tiny Skillet still operates on an order-at-the-counter/hope-to-snag-a-table-soon premise. But man that outrageously delicious food!
Made by an apparently very smart father-and-son team of chefs, it is daring, brash and masculine cooking. Expect the smallish brunch menu - which is served in an edgy, sophisticated and arty little room - to unleash lots of bold and punchy flavors ... and rosemary.
That aromatic herb lent a high note to the brawny Kennebec and Pontiac (they're types of tubers) Potato Omelet ($9). Topped with a tartly dressed, nice arugula salad, the big-boy egg pocket was jammed with garlicky and fluffy smashed spuds, caramelized onions, sharp white cheddar and a fist of locally raised, kick-ass beef brisket for $3 extra if you want (you want!).
Rosemary also accented the fabulous House-Cured Corned Beef and Fingerling Potato Hash ($11). That one used a Farm House Cheddar and Ale Fonduta (think light, white Welsh rarebit) to expand on the natural charms of "this morning's eggs" and smooth out the spikily seasoned meat.
And who would think that rosemary, maple syrup, cheese and vanilla would be great together? Well me, now that I've had Skillet's sweet and savory one-two punch of a Warm Breakfast Risotto ($8). That knockout rice-based combo of flavors and textures was set up with bruleed mascarpone and beautifully cooked figs.
Continuing in this crazy great vein was the Rosemary-Cheddar Catshead Biscuit ($8). I aggressively pounced on its gorgeous, golden-brown, lion-sized fluffy and light biscuit smeared with grainy mustard and Cowgirl Creamery cave-aged blue cheese.
The wildcat bread package came stuffed with a sagey and ferociously delicious housemade Heritage Tamworth sausage patty about the size of a half-pound burger. I was purring for hours after lapping that meal up.
From the non-rosemary category, the Latin-tinged Savory Sweet Potato Omelet ($9) came draped with an eye-popping, chipotle-fueled salsa that was fruity and tangy. Playing off that were the contents of the folded ova ensemble - racy chorizo, sharp white cheddar and sweet potatoes. The cuminy confluence of bright and earthy flavors was inspired.
As were the light brown and stout Oven-Dried Cherry and Oatmeal Pancakes ($9). A triple-stack of hearty and hefty flapjacks with a nifty chew to them were sprinkled with powdered sugar and further flattered with real maple syrup.
Like all of Skillet's brunch items I tried, they made me want to high-five everybody on my way out.