December 18, 2012

Brunch at Russet

Continuing on the theme of luxurious weekend brunches, the two of us carved a little bit of time out of the busy holiday season to have a meal together- a "twin date" as we like to call them.  We decided to stay close to home and check out the brunch scene at Russet, a new-ish farm-to-table concept on Spruce.  In the early afternoon, we had our choice of tables and grabbed a well-lit corner table by the window.

The space is on the smaller side, but with only a few tables occupied, we felt like we had our own private dining room.  The lone waitress was attentive and friendly, but seemed bored in between checking on tables. The vibe is definitely vintage chic, with a rustic holiday-themed window display (seasonally changing just like the menu!).

 Speaking of the menu, Russet's brunch is edited down to the bare minimum, but provides options for everyone regardless of sweet or savory preference.  I threw in a request for one of the house-baked pastries- the lemon raspberry scone ($4).  The pastries come with an assortment of accompaniments- creamy butter and two types of jam, peach and balsamic strawberry.  The table also hosted a little dish of salt for sprinkling on other dishes- a fancy little touch.

The scone was the perfect way to start the meal- not too sweet with a touch of tartness from both fruits.  Dense in the middle with a crumbly crust coated in a thin layer of glaze. A dab of butter and peach jam... scone heaven.

We both happened to be in the savory mood, so we decided to split the two egg dishes.  The duck confit croque madame ($16) is well-worth its higher price tag.  This is a VERY serious sandwich.  Two thick slices of brioche toast are practically coated in melted Swiss cheese, sandwiching a generous leg of slow-cooked duck.  The inclusion of the bone was an odd accessory- thankfully, it was incredibly easy to twist it right out of the sandwich.  With the addition of the croque madame signature- the over-easy egg on top- the richness of each of the elements combined to make an almost overwhelming sandwich (but who are we kidding, you better use a knife and fork to eat this one).  Some lightly dressed baby arugula helped cleanse the palate in between bites.

We were so enamored by the grits at Khyber the previous weekend, it inspired us to try another version. Russet's cheesy grits ($5) are served hot in a miniature Le Creuset.  While they definitely had a good, stone-ground texture, the grits were on the soupy side and could certainly have used more of the "cheesy."  Thanks Khyber, you've spoiled us.

The other egg dish of the morning was the chanterelle omelet ($14), also served with a side of arugula salad.  For any other Top Chef followers like myself, you may have seen a number of chefs compete in the first episode this season to make the perfect omelet.   While some of the Top Chef contestants succeeded at this task, the omelet served to us at Russet was far, far more perfect than any of those.  Seriously.. look at that thing. It's flawless!

Chewy chanterelle mushrooms and the subtle onion flavor of sauteed leeks made for a super savory (but meat-free!) combination.  The earthiness was counterbalanced by a spread of budderfass inside the egg- a creamy and pleasant "Alpine style" cheese.  And the egg itself? About as good as it looks.  Fluffy but with a little snap to give the dish some structure.

To be honest, splitting the two egg dishes ended up being a little too much savory for me- the chef was a tad heavy-handed with the salt.  The crispy chocolate crepe could have been a great antithesis to one of these dishes.  However, we really enjoyed our meal at Russet, especially the cozy and quiet atmosphere.  I'm hoping business is just slow due to the holidays, because I'd love to see this place stick around in our neighborhood.

1521 Spruce Street


  1. Everything looks delicious! Wish you posted a pohto of that chocolate crepe too ;) That omelette really does look like a smooth, fluffy piece of perfection

  2. All dishes look very delightful and yummy too. Couple of weeks ago went out with family for a brunch at one of event venue Chicago. The food was so delicious. Everyone was very happy to have their favorite dishes on table. It was really a great day.

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