When executive chef Blair Wilson thinks about brunch, he pictures a menu that's approachable, relatable, and utterly delicious. Fancy, over the top
"I think people get carried away," he says, "by trying to outdo the next guy with sometimes ridiculous concoctions that most people don't want as their first meal of the day. I've learned that even if it's basic, if it looks good, it probably tastes good."
Wilson's brunch menu at the Social Club, located inside the Surfcomber Hotel on South Beach, is exactly that: really simple. It's a mixture of breakfast-driven dishes and a few lunch plates, all with his personal touch, adding a smudge of uniqueness without getting too crazy.
"We're not trying to reinvent the wheel here," he laughs. "Brunch is supposed to be a lot of breakfast food. And then I come in and try to bring together some flavors you might not see used often."
Because the Social Club serves brunch daily, Blair wanted to craft a menu where every dish, though different, is equally good. "In order to do brunch seven days a week, the menu needs to be something people can relate to," he says. "Though it's small, I think it's done really well."It's divided into three sections: breakfast breads, eggs, and salads and sandwiches. Blair recommends starting off with an order of the doughnuts ($11) for the table to share. They're made in-house by scratch daily. They're accompanied by two sauces, espresso hazelnut and dulce de leche, which are both made fresh the morning of. Though they look small, they're mighty. The inside is warm and doughy, while the outside has a satisfying crispness. The white powder mixed with one of the sauces adds a sweet aftertaste, leaving you hungry for more.
"An old mentor of mine had put these doughnuts on a dessert menu a long time ago," he says. "But I thought it made so much sense to have them on for brunch. With their size and shareability factor, you can't go wrong. It's a cool introduction to your meal." For the main entree, Wilson says the breakfast sandwich ($15) is the restaurant's best seller. He says about 400 are sold each week. It's made with an over-easy egg, avocado, and heirloom tomatoes on top of two thick pieces of toasted challah bread. On the bottom slice, maple bourbon bacon jam is spread throughout, adding a sweet and smoky taste to the sandwich. Breakfast potatoes similar to tater tots are served alongside.
"The sandwich was based around a BLT," he says. "As classic as it is, I wanted to give it an upgrade. The bacon jam is probably the star of the sandwich. By adding all the components together, it really rounds out it out. There's a lot of flavors, textures, and temperatures that make for an interesting favorite palate."
The bacon jam used is made daily at the restaurant. Wilson says his staff goes through upward of 25 gallons of it every week. The secret? Wilson uses bacon mixed with bourbon maple syrup and coffee. Diners craving something sweet should try the cinnamon roll waffle ($13). It's drizzled with barbecue pecans and blueberries. For something savory, Wilson suggests the Cubano sandwich ($16), made with mojo pork, ham, gruyere, and sweet fire mustard; the mahi mahi tacos ($15), with fresh corn tortillas, jicama slaw, jalapeno ranch, and micro cilantro; or the black Angus burger ($18), which also uses the maple bacon jam.
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Fresh pressed juices are made to order during brunch ($12), including the pineapple express, made with green apple, cucumber, and pineapple; the Southern wisdom, made with collard greens, honey crisp apple, lemon, and spinach; and the rise and shine, made with orange, carrot, and ginger. Or mix in some booze by ordering a brunch cocktail ($15). There's a handful on the menu. Diners can request their own blend too.
"Out of all my meal periods, brunch is by far the busiest and most well received," he says. "There's really something for everyone, whether you want to stay healthy with a juice and salad, or drink cocktails and indulge in something sweeter or more savory. Either way, everyone usually leaves happy."
Brunch is offered every day from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
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