Sometimes I find myself trying to explain why for the first 20 years of my life I avoided eating ribs. It had something to do with an aversion to Texas-style, sticky-sweet barbecue sauce and a lot to do with being a bit prissy and not wanting to get my hands dirty.
I'm not defending this decision, and I have spent the better part of the last decade making up for lost time. So when I saw the Shortrib Benedict on the brunch menu at Branch Water Tavern, it was a "hell, yeah." Situation.
If brunch has a formula, it's eggs + meat + bread + alcohol. The brilliance of the Shortrib Benedict is that it combines three out of these four elements without getting too heavy or too complicated.
The dish consists of two small chili cornbread muffins topped with big chunks of juicy braised short rib meat, which sits underneath a full poached egg sprinkled with chives and doused in a red wine jus.
Technically this dish, which costs $12, doesn't really deserve the Benedict title. In addition to replacing the English muffin with a sweet, mild cornbread (it was a little dry but nothing a puddle of jus couldn't fix), there's also, mercifully, no Hollandaise sauce, which would take the dish over the edge on richness.
Brunch has a tendency to be over the top, but what really struck me about this dish is how balanced the sweet and savory elements were, and how pleasantly restrained (considering the over-the-top nature of brunch) the four-bite presentation was.
If brunch has a formula, it's eggs + meat + bread + alcohol. The brilliance of the Shortrib Benedict is that it combines three out of these four elements without getting too heavy or too complicated. Order a bottomless mimosa and you have officially won brunch. E-mail me for your gold star.