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Friday, February 24, 2012

Boxing Room Does New Orleans Brunch Due Diligence

Posted By on Fri, Feb 24, 2012 at 10:15 AM

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Traditional Sunday brunch in New Orleans is something special, from the white tablecloths and

Eggs Sardou to classic cocktails and live jazz. But the Boxing Room, Hayes

Valley's lively Cajun/Creole restaurant, isn't trying to imitate any of

that with its recently added brunch menu.

Turns out, that's a good thing.



What they've created instead is something unique: delicious and

authentic Louisiana bayou food in an open, relaxed setting that doesn't

feel the least bit contrived.

It's true that a Southern, "soul food" brunch menu can be tricky to

pull off, overloaded with greasy fried chicken, or mistakenly elevated with duck confit. The Boxing Room, however,

does it just right. Many of the dishes are ones you're likely to see

down in Louisiana, like classic Grillades and Grits ($16) and a Fried

Seafood Po'Boy ($14 to $18). We have Chef Justin Simoneaux to thank for

the authenticity; he's a southern Louisiana native.

Mocha Porter, Rogue Ales; Lost Dog Red Ale, Napa Smith Brewery
  • Mocha Porter, Rogue Ales; Lost Dog Red Ale, Napa Smith Brewery

There's no booze on the brunch menu, just wine and

beer, but that beer selection is huge. It's made up of both Northern

California and Louisiana brews (think Abita), with a few international

ones thrown in the mix. The wine choices are fewer, running the gamut of California, France, and Italy, and they're served by the glass or on tap. The

Boxing Room's beer and wine cocktails give us a break from tired

mimosas; the First Call ($5) is a mix of stout and coffee, while the

Debutante ($9) mixes Chenin Blanc with grapefruit juice, ginger beer, and

elderberry syrup.

Crackers with pimento cheese dip
  • Crackers with pimento cheese dip

Once you sit down, you'll be greeted with a

complimentary basket of thin crackers and a small bowl of pimento cheese

dip, not too spicy and not overly creamy. Gotta love that Southern

hospitality.

Beignets with chocolate-espresso cream
  • Beignets with chocolate-espresso cream

When it's time to order, split the Beignets ($7)

among the table. These warm, impossibly soft pillows are almost

completely hollow, doughy on the inside, fried to perfection, and dusted

with just the right amount of powdered sugar. As if that's not enough,

they're served with a chocolate-espresso cream for dipping, which full of roasty flavor without tasting sickly sweet.

Crab-and-Artichoke Cakes, with poached eggs, hollandaise, spinach, and bacon
  • Crab-and-Artichoke Cakes, with poached eggs, hollandaise, spinach, and bacon


In true Southern style, pork takes center stage in a

number of the dishes, but not in an obnoxious way. The

Crab-and-Artichoke Cakes ($18) strike a great balance, with a smoky,

bacon-infused vinaigrette lightly covering a bed of spinach leaves. The

cakes -- topped with poached eggs and a buttery hollandaise -- are

served on top, deep brown and crispy, with plenty of crab and a

delicate artichoke flavor. The restaurant also offers a pork-free

version for those who prefer it (but we recommend the real deal).

Sweet Potato & Andouille Hash, with baked eggs and sauce piquant
  • Sweet Potato & Andouille Hash, with baked eggs and sauce piquant

The Sweet Potato and Andouille Hash ($15) makes no

bones about its comfort food status, right down to the cast iron pan it's

cooked and served in. Two deliciously runny eggs are surrounded by a mix

of regular and sweet potatoes, all covered in a thick, slightly spicy

red sauce loaded with chunks of tender andouille sausage. It's rich and

hearty in the best possible way, and the perfectly seasoned sausage is something really special.

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Reservations are recommended for brunch and dinner,

though at peak brunch hours you may still see some open seats at the

bar. The crowd is lively, the room is bright and open, and chefs have

nailed the short menu. True, you might pay a few dollars less for each

dish somewhere else, but these classic favorites -- executed perfectly

-- are well worth it.

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Olivia Ware

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