We've already blogged and tweeted extensively about how much we love Icehouse, easily our favorite casual eatery in town. We also enjoyed chef/owner Nick Hodge's holiday brunch last year at Kitchenette, which he has since sold. This year, Nick decided to move his (hopefully) annual tradition to Icehouse, serving Texas-style brunches on the two weekends preceding Christmas.
The weekend's severe ice storm seems to have deterred all but Nick Hodge's most ardent fans from showing up today, creating a quiet and cozy atmosphere. From the Anglo patrons to the wait and kitchen staffs, you get a clear feeling that everyone here knew each other, adding some intimacy and chatter to the mood.
Departing a little from last year's seven-course formula, the "à la carte" chalkboard menu featured a list of well-priced Southern staples as well as more intriguing options: breakfast burritos, tacos, huevos rancheros, migas, kolaches…
Of course no visit to Icehouse is complete without a pitcher of our favorite drink in town. Brunch or not, we couldn't resist the temptation of a half bottle of Maker's Mark mixed in Icehouse's homemade lemonade.
Corn, black beans, onions, roasted poblano peppers and halved new potatoes all held together with a couple of scrambled eggs. This burrito hits your mouth with multiple textures from the slightly crunchy onions or soft potatoes to the corn niblets popping in your mouth. Besides, you always have a winner combining eggs with potatoes.
Scrambled eggs with sautéed onions and roasted poblanos, mixed into fried tortilla strips that gave a great crunch. Pico de gallo sat on top and gave a fresh contrast against the mellow flavors from the other ingredients.
Cubes of roasted sweet potatoes sautéed with pieces of tender smoked brisket acted as a bed for a wonderfully fried sunny-side-up egg. We really enjoyed the smokiness and the sweet potato crisps were a nice finish.
"orange cheese & gravy". This was an upgrade on your everyday sausage biscuit. A thick patty topped with scrambled eggs, a Kraft single, and drenched in a béchamel gravy. The biscuit was not the best we'd had at Icehouse, but overall it was still delicious.
As is customary at Icehouse, the service was welcoming, friendly and warm. Our only criticism today has to do with timing, as we received our entire order at once, meaning one or two dishes had to be consumed lukewarm.
At the risk of repeating ourselves, we cannot emphasize enough how tired we have grown of the city's brunch scene. Today's experience, while not absolutely impeccable, was a definite break from the norm. Where else can you savor something this comforting, edgy and packed with heat at midday? What a great way to "melt the ice" and start the holiday season!
Price per person: $15
Montreal restaurant and bar reviews brought to you by two regular guys who like to eat and drink. We will go anywhere and we will say it like it is.