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Brunch with a punch 

The Southern Gourmasian's brunch may be the best-kept secret in town.

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The Southern Gourmasian boasts one of the more interesting menus in town. It's an elegantly executed mix of Asian cuisine and good old-fashioned Southern comfort food. And it's pulled off without the slightest bit of pretension. During a weekday lunch hour, the place is absolutely humming. But for brunch on a Saturday you'll likely have your pick of any table you like.

"It's one of our slowest services of the week," says Justin Patterson, whose business card reads: chef/owner/problems solver. "We've always done brunch at the restaurant. When I started the food truck, I called the Hillcrest Farmers Market and asked them about bringing the truck out. A few weeks later, at about 4 o'clock in the afternoon they called to invite me out for the next morning. So I had a few hours to make up a breakfast menu. That's what it's evolved from."

The brunch menu is consistent with the spirit of the restaurant and the truck that came before it. You get something that feels fresh and a little exotic for a really reasonable price.

Start with the Biscuits & Fixings ($8). Each order comes with three biscuits, which might leave you elbowing each other for the last half if you're a group of four or more. The biscuits are buttery and sturdy enough to handle whatever you can pile on top of them. You'll have pickles, pickled onions, apple butter, sorghum and a couple of bacon slices to choose from. You can concoct your own sweet and savory bites. Bacon with apple butter was a table favorite.

The KFC and Waffles (Korean Fried Chicken, $8) is a standout. The crispy orange batter that surrounds the boneless breast is spicy and has a slight crunch to it, and the chicken is juicy. It sits on top of a buttermilk waffle and is drizzled with a sticky, spicy sauce made up of soy sauce, grated ginger, garlic, rice vinegar and Guilin chili sauce. We could've used a bit more sauce, to be honest. The side of syrup paled in comparison.

The Country Hash ($8) was one of the menu items on that first brunch outing at the farmer's market. It's got staying power for a reason: It's a plate full of roasted potatoes, pears and peppers, coated in a subtle, mustardy sauce and topped with tender roasted pork shoulder and an over-easy egg. A drizzle of hoisin sauce adds a nice tart zip to this hearty dish. The pork was nicely done — in that sweet spot between too greasy and too dry. It's salty, it's a little sweet and it's somehow not too rich to enjoy.

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Someone at the table needs to order the Moco Loco ($7). In fact, two people could share it. What you get is a bowl loaded with sticky rice and a mound of roasted pork shoulder, covered with Southern Gourmasian's Korean chili gravy. The gravy is a dream: a little lighter than what you're used to (but not by much), spiced to a pale, creamy orange and flecked with Korean chili powder. It's delicious and balanced, not overly hot. The rice helps to neutralize the richness of the pork and gravy. This is stick-to-your-ribs goodness with the right amount of Asian kick.

For a solid few minutes after the plates hit the table, our group of happy, chatty people stopped talking. We left feeling a little shocked that we were some of the only folks in the place. Downtown is a bit of a ghost town on the weekends, which is good for brunch-goers (you won't have to wait to be seated), but not always great for business.

We had a great time. The service was prompt and friendly. There are local beers on tap and the prices are infinitely reasonable. We had a table for four, got an appetizer, and had a couple of beers, all for $62 (before tip).

The food is so good you almost wouldn't fault The Southern Gourmasian for being a little more pricey or pretentious. Luckily for us, that doesn't seem to be part of its ethos.

The Southern Gourmasian
219 W. Capitol Ave.
313-5645

Quick bite

We suggest anything that comes with Ninja sauce. It's chef/owner/problem solver Patterson's concoction of mustard, soy sauce, lots of garlic and black pepper, among other things. It comes atop the Steak and Eggs ($10), which is a formidable dish even without the sauce. Korean barbecue-marinated beef comes with Okinomiyaki vegetable pancakes (delish) and two eggs. It'll cure what ails you.

Hours

11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday. Closed Sunday.

Other info

Local beers on tap. Credit cards accepted.


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