Executive chef Phil Bryant crafted the Local's new brunch menu.
Executive chef Phil Bryant crafted the Local's new brunch menu.
Courtesy of The Local

Coral Gables' the Local Launches Southern-Style Brunch With Booze From the Bridge

When Phil Bryant, executive chef of the Local Craft Food & Drink, began working at the restaurant in September 2014, he fantasied about offering a Southern-style Sunday brunch but knew it would take time.

"Southern cooking is in my roots," he says. "It's a type of cuisine I really appreciate. And because I write all the menus at the Local, I knew I wanted to do that type of brunch. The Gables really only has a couple of great brunch spots, but they have a loyal following. We knew we had some stiff competition and that it would take a while for us to get a following too."

Bryant and the Local staff started slowly. In January 2015, they launched a monthly brunch series featuring various breweries and mixologists, exposing the neighborhood to their version of Sunday brunch — hearty Southern-inspired fare and bold crafted cocktails and drinks in a laid-back atmosphere.

"What we were trying to do is show people we could be a great spot for brunch," he says. "There's not a ton of street traffic where we are, and people view us as a casual, quick lunch or dinner spot. But we're actually a great place to spend Sundays too." 

Now, a year later, Bryant has launched a weekly brunch partnered with the Bridge’s cocktail duo, David Perez and Will Thompson. The menu features à la carte items made in house and almost always locally sourced starters, sandwiches, salads, and main plates, along with bottomless mimosas, sangria pitchers, and morning cocktails. 

"At the Local, we try to stand out and be unique," Bryant says. "And our brunch is no different. It's not really typical brunch fare. You won't see a Benedict or an omelet on our menu. And because there are already great brunch places around, instead of being one of many, we'd rather stick out like a sore thumb."

Start off with an order of cornbread.EXPAND
Start off with an order of cornbread.
Photo by Clarissa Buch

Bryant's menu starts with "Startin’ & Sharin’" plates ($6 to $10) , including staples such as house-cured beef jerky with scallions and the chef’s own barbecue spice; bread and butter, which is freshly made skillet cornbread served with house-made butter; and hen and dumplings, made with pulled hen, buttermilk dumplings, Vidalia onions, bourbon, and Parmesan jus.

Eggs in a basket is one of the Local's bestsellers for brunch.EXPAND
Eggs in a basket is one of the Local's bestsellers for brunch.
Photo by Clarissa Buch

Consider pairing the bread and butter with one of Bryant's favorites: eggs in a basket. It's offered as an appetizer and is made with a poached egg, crisp Virginia ham, fresh micro greens, Parmesan gravy, and a cured egg on a house-baked Sally Lunn roll. "The egg dish uses a homemade brioche, which people really like," he says. "It's one of people's favorites."

Florida burrata is placed between two fried green tomatoes.EXPAND
Florida burrata is placed between two fried green tomatoes.
Photo by Clarissa Buch

The "Sandwich Shop & Salad Bar" portion of the menu ($9 to $16) features another bruncher's favorite: fried green tomatoes. A piece of Florida burrata the size of a fist is placed between two slices of fried green tomato. Extra-virgin olive oil and house preserves with Swank Farms greens are served alongside. 

Traditional French toast with pecans, whipped cream, and bourbon maple syrup.EXPAND
Traditional French toast with pecans, whipped cream, and bourbon maple syrup.
Photo by Clarissa Buch

"Main Plates" ($12 to $25) are more traditional brunch dishes with a twist. Those with a sweet tooth should consider the Sally Lunn French toast, made with seasonal preserves, bourbon maple syrup, brown butter, whipped cream, and pecans. Braised short rib and eggs — featuring basted eggs over griddled green tomatoes and hash brown casserole — and pulled pork and grits made with a basted egg over smoked tomatoes, grits, hot sauce, and peanut pot "likker" are also on the menu.

But Bryant says the fried chicken 'n' pancakes, his take on fried chicken 'n' waffles, is what most brunchgoers default to for the main course. He places two pieces of fried chicken atop homemade Parmesan pancakes. Green tomato chow chow and hot sauce honey are drizzled throughout.

Bryant's take on fried chicken 'n' waffles trades the latter for pancakes.EXPAND
Bryant's take on fried chicken 'n' waffles trades the latter for pancakes.
Photo by Clarissa Buch

"The fried chicken 'n' pancakes kind of goes against the grain," he says. "I've never really viewed fried chicken 'n' waffles as a Southern thing anyway. But I get the concept. I just wanted to do something different with it. People have responded really well to it too. It's close enough in familiarity but still has a twist."

Pair any of Bryant's plates with a drink from the Bridge's "Morning Booze" menu. There are mimosas, sangria, and a bevy of handcrafted cocktails. 

Be sure to end brunch by asking a server about the sweet options for dessert. They vary from week to week.

Brunch is served Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

Follow Clarissa Buch on Twitter

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