Good flavors and comforting textures abound on an appealing breakfast-and-lunch menu that could be executed with a little more attention to detail
Possible reasons a restaurant would be named Blunch:
a) It's a typo
c) To attract attention and inform prospective customers that a distinctive twist on brunch is being offered
I'm assuming the folks behind Blunch Daylight Eatery and Bar would cite “c” as theirreason. Frankly, though, Blunch is an inviting enough new dining spot in restaurant-hungry Clintonville that it could probably be named “Impetigo” and people would still line up on weekends for its scratch-cooked, often-indulgent food.
Replacing a former Bonchon Chicken branch, Blunch is upbeat, colorful and modern. Turquoise and sunny yellow are prominent, as are two fanciful, wall-covering works by local artists that incorporate smile-inducing depictions of birds. Overseeing the attractive space are notably cheerful, usually prompt servers.
High-quality, locally roasted Luck Bros. coffee ($3.50) is a great way to get the ball rolling here. The light, citrus-kissed Blunch Bloody ($9), made with Tito's vodka and garnished with crisp “bacon on a stick,” is a different sort of eye-opener. So is the more refreshing Vesper Cocktail ($10), shaken with fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice, Lillet Blanc and grapefruit vodka.
The sizable but easily navigated menu touches most major brunch bases and then some. One inspired item is the Pancake Flight ($9.50): three smartly plated, full-sized, crisp-yet-fluffy flapjacks bearing creative flavors. My favorite is the bright and tangy blueberry-lemon-ricotta, but the Bananas Foster and s'more-like Sweet Potato Pancakes are no slouches, either. I only wish the curiously viscous toppings were less heavy-handed.
Prefer your sweets bite-sized? Rosie's Zeppole (five for $5) — think Italian-style doughnut holes — will get the job done. When I sampled them, though, the oil they were fried in could've been fresher.
The Huevos Rancheros ($9.50) are a highlight. Atop crisp and delicious, hand-shaped fried masa discs that would make any Mexican restaurant proud are mashed black beans; over-medium eggs; mostly green chopped avocado; zippy, pulpy salsa ranchero; and queso fresco.
House-roasted meat elevates the Corned Beef Hash ($9.50, with toast) to highlight status as well. While not an actual hash, this stack of eggs above flavorful shredded meat atop “Blunch breakfast potatoes” — cubes of potatoes and sweet potatoes sauteed with peppers and onions — hits a lot of comforting spots.
Several versions of eggs Benedict are offered, including the half-and-half option I ordered called the Benedict Conundrum ($12). I partnered “The Atlantic,” starring chopped-and-crisped house-smoked salmon and a tangy choron sauce, with the classic “Ham Benny,” featuring a nicely seared ham steak, plus rich hollandaise. Both were good-tasting and made with fine ingredients, but my “perfectly poached” eggs were nearly hard-cooked and my Blunch potatoes had burnt-to-black spots.
Black flecks of scorched Brussels sprouts were a puzzling distraction from the otherwise terrific Pig + Garden ($9). Basically a jumbo crostini, it's buttery and wonderfully crunchy toasted brioche bread supporting Jarlsberg cheese that's both melted and crackly; crisp and thick bacon; cajun-spiced mayo with a just-threatening heat; and properly cooked shaved Brussels sprouts (I'd like more). A dainty salad of peppers, tomatoes, scallion and feta cheese supplies bright contrast.
Like several items I tried at Blunch, the herb-and-garlic-livened Ciabatta Chicken sandwich ($9.50, with crisp house chips) featured a good idea, good flavors, good textures and a flaw. Because the flavor-bursting combo of marinated and grilled chicken logs, caramelized onions, roasted tomatoes, cucumber coins and an arugula salad was so structurally unsound, it tumbled completely apart during the first bite. A palate-pleasing warm side of Crispy Brussels Sprouts ($4) was tossed with ice-cold pickled onions.
Blunch is in my neighborhood, I like the friendly and lively place, and I plan on returning. I only hope this review nudges it to pay more attention to details.