I've coined this word to sum up the newish Sunday brunch at On the Fly: funusual. I mean, how else to describe the creative tangle of flagrant flavors and top-notch healthy ingredients that comprise Fly's imaginatively reinvented and lively takes on culinary classics?
Like for instance three dense, homemade, big-boy pierogies ($8) stuffed with pureed potatoes, plopped on a semi-viscous liquid composed of grown-in-the-yard sour cherries, soy sauce and sesame oil all topped with a vegan tzatziki-like sauce. That smile-making, boldly flavored dish was a bit Polish, a little Asian and a tad Greek. In other words, it was funusual.
If you've pointlessly been reluctant to enjoy On the Fly's veggie-based, beautiful arrangements of clean and locally sourced goodies, its brunch provides you with more reasons to catch up.
First of all, most of OTF's handmade, cheffy entrees cost only about $7 to $9, and secondly, the inspired place is now making morning dishes with excellent eggs from Knox County's Toad Hill Farm. Wait, is this controversial for a restaurant with a vegan reputation? I suppose it is for people who find eating locally raised organic eggs controversial - that wouldn't be me.
What else can you expect on the menu at OTF's brunch? Well you'll have to check Facebook or Twitter to be sure, because the offerings change weekly. What's guaranteed is the fare will be intriguing and made with the best possible ingredients.
That said, the D'fly Toast ($7) is almost always available. It's a whopping good egg sandwich that places an omeletty patty on distinct and terrific, sesame-oil-grilled housemade bread airier than a biscuit, denser than a bun. There's also spicy mayo, and to counter the richness, salady stuff plus bright pickled veggies.
Here are some of the other best and most interesting plates I tried.
Falafel Benedict ($9): This good eatin' meal had poached real eggs crowned with vegan hollandaise (go figure). Making the great eggs even greater were the cuminy, crumbly and nutty homemade falafel discs (and English muffin stand-ins) plus a garnish of explosively flavored preserved lemon loops.
Empanada and Tofu Scramble ($8): A highlight. From color to texture to flavor, this vastly improved old hippie favorite was the most convincing and best tasting version of this vegan preparation I've ever tried. Adding to the "scramble's" substantial charms were Mediterranean flourishes from olives, onions, cumin and lentils.
But wait, there was more - in fact this was by far the biggest and heartiest dish I sampled here. Arguably upstaging the tofu melange was a wonderful - and gigantic - crispy empanada crammed with stiff and comforting polenta. Wow.
Zucchini Hash ($4): This was my favorite brunch side dish here, and one in which those bold and bright flavors of the Mediterranean reappeared. It was more of a racy veggie saute than an actual hash - and a beautiful one at that. Glistening roasted red pepper pieces lent sweetness to big chunks of zucchini, which received land and sea brininess from olives and sea beans. Unifying the elements further was a mustardy dressing, and providing ballast was crumbled tempeh.
Vegan gelato (two scoops for $4): While not as smooth and rich as the Italian ideal (think of it like a creamy sorbet), it was still good and a refreshing meal ender here. I enjoyed the subtle lemon enough, but loved the authentic and fresh-tasting blast of the passionfruit.