Vagabond's Sunday Brunch: Trout Lox, Alex Chang, and the Jersey Squirrel

Brunch suggests an unrushed meal — a late breakfast that morphs into lunch and lasts well into the afternoon. It's also one of the few acceptable times to imbibe alcoholic beverages while the sun still shines high in the sky. 

The Vagabond Restaurant & Bar's new Sunday version of this event, which New Times sampled yesterday, goes above and beyond the average. The menu, while short and sweet, caters to just about every taste, with chef Alex Chang reworking favorites like scrambled eggs and pancakes to make them artful and modern. 
Chef Chang, by the way, is right on the line during Sunday brunch. While many other Miami chefs leave Sunday service to their staff, he was in the open kitchen yesterday, calling orders and plating quail and waffles. Chang, who takes Mondays off when the restaurant is closed, says he prefers to be in the kitchen on the weekends. This is especially important now, he says, when brunch service is only in its third week. 
The Vagabond also offers a complete list of cocktails designed for brunch. The Jersey squirrel ($12), a play on the nearly forgotten pink squirrel — made with almond milk, crème de noyaux, crème de cacao, and egg white — is sweet, frothy, and reminiscent of an adult strawberry Yoo-hoo. Other options include the Upper Eastside ($14), made with gin, St-Germain, cucumber, vermouth, and absinthe, and the On Miami Time ($12), with rum, lemongrass, and coconut shrub.  
Of course, there are old standbys — made with a twist. The Vagabond bloody mary ($12) is a garden in a glass. Made with tomato, beet, carrot, and avocado juices, this mary gets a kick from habañero peppers, caraway, and fennel. If you're in the mood for something even spicier, the mary is served with a squeeze bottle of house-made hot sauce and a side of carrot-infused vinegar with some instructions: Add the hot sauce to taste; then sip your drink, sip the vinegar, sip your drink, and repeat. The result is a real awakening to the taste buds.
A white sangria ($8) is punched up with the addition of gin, aloe, chamomile, infused honey, and starfruit to the white wine. It's boozier and less sweet than the typical sangria, but still refreshing.
Dishes are meant to be shared, so the portions are generous. Three plates were more than sufficient for two people. The Genova tuna melt with aged Hook's cheddar and tomatoes on sourdough ($12) was a sophisticated take on a comfort-food favorite.
If you're craving lox and bagels, the cured ocean trout, served open-faced on rye bread with cucumber, dill, and poppy seeds ($15), is a more refined version. 
Roasted market vegetables with poached eggs and yuzu kosho pesto ($11) are a lighter alternative to an omelet. Break open the eggs and mix the yolk into the carrots, potatoes, and broccoli for the best taste experience (because eggs makes everything taste even better).

The best part of this brunch is that it doesn't end when the meal is done. After you get your check, head to the Vagabond's pool to listen to a live jazz band over cocktails. So forget your other plans, because brunch just took over your Sunday.

Vagabond's brunch is served Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; enjoy cocktails and live jazz poolside from 1 to 5 p.m.

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Laine Doss is the food and spirits editor for Miami New Times. She has been featured on Cooking Channel's Eat Street and Food Network's Great Food Truck Race. She won an Alternative Weekly award for her feature about what it's like to wait tables.
Contact: Laine Doss