Consummate brunch additions bolster Vintage 301 appeal

by Ryan Snyder

Vintage 301

301 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Greensboro; 336.333.3190

Everyone likes breakfast. We eat breakfast for dinner when we’re too lazy to go to the grocery store. We eat it in the middle of the night to keep down the J’germeister shots struggling to escape. We even eat breakfast for breakfast. Finding the right time of day for eggs and biscuits is irrelevant, but there’s something about Saturdays and Sundays that make them taste infinitely better. So why is it that there’s such a shortage of interesting weekend brunch spots in Greensboro?

The restaurant currently known as Vintage 301 has been holding down the corner of MLK and Gorrell for years now, keeping an ever-evolving menu of interesting world-fusion cuisine, but they finally stepped up in July to help fill the mid-morning bloody Mary and bacon void. Between the ample outdoor seating and warm atmosphere of the interior, the space is perfectly suited for any brunch occasion. Then there’s the full bar, boasting one of the most original beer and wine menus in town. Keeping in the spirit of their eclectic dinner and booze menus, Chef Ben Sullivan has prepared a brunch menu that is, in terms of each individual offering, twoparts comfort food and one-part exotic culinary intrigue.

While the menu itself lacks in quantity of options, it makes up for with its sheer diversity. There’s no mechanical assembly line fare to be found here; each composition is unique unto itself and delivered with lipsmacking presentation. Based on the online menu, I had my heart set on a little spice promised by the tostada, but arrived to find a slight variation of what was posted. No tostada and its replacement of biscuits and red-eye gravy wasn’t ready to be served at the time, so my choice fell between two equally tempting choices.

The Philly steak eggs and cheese, served over Simple Kneads toast with caramelized onions and mushrooms, sounded delicious, but I instead opted for the complexity of the omelet Normande. The apples and eggs experience was heightened by the introduction of crabmeat and fennel, a savory herb commonly used in sausage, with a side of homemade apple butter spread across the plate and a negligible amount of powdered sugar added for presentation. The omelet was as good as I expected, though the subtlety of the crab had trouble standing out against the powerful fennel and its texture was defeated by the chunky and firm bits of apple, which could have been partially rectified by slicing them a little more thinly.

My friend order the quiche of the day, a tall, thick slice of which arrived on a bed of baby spinach and stuffed with such, along with onions and big hunks of creamy feta cheese. The buttery pastry shell that enclosed it was flaky and crispy, which made for an exciting contrast in textures when paired with the silky custard and egg mixture. Again, the quiche was a different recipe than posted online, so call ahead if you’re picky.

The entr’es are winners all around, but a side dish might be the dark horse candidate for best on the menu. You can make a meal out of the potato and bacon hash, but one order might not be enough. Hell, there might even be some days that justify plowing through three bowls of it. The potatoes are cooked in white wine with bold seasoning, onions and crispy bacon and for a side, it’s a scene-stealer.

While I don’t normally make a practice of having dessert with breakfast, the Pain Perdue, a variation of French toast, sounded simply too good to pass up. Thick slices of Simple Kneads bread were drenched in cr’me anglaise and fried golden brown and slightly chewy. The side of butter maple syrup was optional, as the dish was perfectly sweet as it was.

The best part of it all? There was nothing on the menu over $7 and only the omelet went that high. Most dishes came in at $5 and $6, with sides at $3. The crowd at opening was rather sparse, but be assured that reservations might be a necessity for brunch as word gets out.

The quiche du jour at Vintage 301 is always a special affair, available on Saturday and Sunday mornings. (photo by Ryan Snyder)