Last week Awesome Eats stopped in Jay’s Restaurant and Lounge, feasted on Chef Will’s creations and was invited back to partake in the four-course Sunday Brunch. This week, Awesome Eats is reviewing their special prix fixe Sunday affair.
Although prix fixe, commonly pronounced ‘prefix’, menus are common in Europe, they’re still somewhat of a novelty to most Americans. A prix fixe menu is simply a limited menu that has a fixed price and a set list of dishes. Jay’s Sunday Brunch is $25 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. It's accompanied by live jazz music
The place is set very much like the hip evening lounge and with the blinds slightly closed, the cool blue back lights casting a soft shadow and the three piece jazz ensemble playing earthy tones, I cannot lie, I kind of felt like I had been there all night. It is a smooth and jazzy brunch with selections on the menu to match. After all, Awesome Eats is all about stellar dishes and less about the surroundings.
First off, the Bloody Mary cocktail with three blue cheese-stuffed olives was killer and is guaranteed to cure any evils from the night before. I stopped at one but could have easily ordered a second round. Not too much horseradish and just the right amount of liquid red pepper made for a mild, but good burn in the back of your throat. I would imagine this is the perfect medicine when you have a sore throat and cough drops fall short. Mental note taken as cold season is around the corner.
Those not wishing to ingest a sassy cocktail so early in the day would enjoy the mango Mimosa that was not too sweet, or the refreshing and eye-opening peach Bellini. Fresh peach slices at the bottom of the flute were the reward for finishing the cocktail.
Fresh ground coffee was put through a Turkish press and was served with heavy cream, pure enjoyment sitting right next to a glass of nothing but the juice from a fresh orange. They kick it up a notch by offering house made doughnuts citrus crème Anglaise, Beignets and fresh biscotti made by the pastry chef. Delightful! Espresso, cappuccino and infused then dried pressed teas were also offered.
These just laid the foundation to several nap-inducing dishes that left a lasting impression. One of which was the soul filling lobster and spinach strata. Baked in a ramekin dish, the top or crust had a slightly crisp outer shell and when the spoon dug in for a scoop it rendered a soft inside. Each spoonful was rich with a soft bread pudding mixture of spinach, bread, lobster chunks and topped with a delicate hollandaise cream sauce. This was soul food on a different level. The contrasting textures and flavors make you crave another spoonful while trying to savor every morsel. To indulge in such a decadent dish before noon seemed almost naughty. But I digress, this was the fourth course.
Second course choosing included a carbonated fruit layered Greek yogurt with toasted granola that was perfectly assembled. The honey and pear Napoleon was a delicate puff pastry layered with thinly sliced fresh pears, drizzled with pure honey and topped with candied almonds. Although a bit on the sweet side, it was very good. The fruit blintz with its delicate crepe, filled with Brule mango and citrus crème Anglaise was the bomb.
If the second course offerings were on the sweet side, the third course dishes balanced that out. Prosciutto and fresh Mozzerel is a potato croquette stuffed with crispy prosciutto, mashed potatoes and Mozzerel cheese. Crispy, crunchy, exterior held a smooth, creamy, and rich filling that was slightly sweet and contrasting.
The Southern Gentleman is a beautiful bowl of creamy white grits (I think Chef must use all cream) that are light and delicate, and flavored with bits of bacon and cheddar cheese. These are not your breakfast buffet grits made with water and lack of flavor, you know, the kind that folks up north wonder why we even eat grits. No, Chef Will makes grits a gourmet dish that warms the heart and fills the soul.
Listening to a Frank Sinatra tune being played and dining on dishes often only seen in cooking magazines gave me pause -- it seems like it should be a special occasion or something. A wedding reception, a resort breakfast or some other not-your-normal Sunday affair. When the forth course comes rolling out I think, umm, I should live like this every Sunday! Chef Will puts such heart and soul into his creations and their presentations, and Jay’s service is so attentive it feels as if I’m living the good life, well, for two hours or so anyway.
Bacon-stuffed waffles come with skewered tempura chicken sticking straight up in the middle and watermelon compote on the side. Corned beef and sweet potato hash is served with a spring egg on top, hominy grits with sautéed shrimp, smoky bacon and sherry crème tomatoes, Banana Foster Pancakes and Crème Brule French Toast are being served to diners seated next to me.
Chef Will takes a southern classic known as S.O.S., or creamed chip beef, and presents his gourmet version that is a gold medal winner. Shaved Prime Rib Gravy over buttermilk biscuits and eggs cooked to your liking. Creamy gravy with a generous portion of prime rib bits are spooned up with the soft and fluffy biscuits, absolutely amazing.
From the first cup of coffee to the last bite of the fourth course, the smooth sounds of jazz lull you into a dream-like state, and when the brunch is over there is a feeling like Cinderella at midnight. Time to return to the real world, at least until next Sunday when you can return and do it all over again.
When you go for Sunday Brunch at Jay’s Restaurant and Lounge, 2030 Plank Road, tell them you read about their Awesome Eats in Fredericksburg Patch.