I'm still having sweet dreams about the brunch I devoured over a week ago. Soon, you'll understand why. An egg afficiando ever since I was a little girl, wooeing me with yolk takes a special set of skills. You've read it many times before and although I hate to sound like a broken record, I feel obliged to state again that I am, without question, a total egg snob. The breakfast bratiness goes back to a story I like to tell from about 23 years ago. On an annual summer beach vacation, I asked my dear aunt to cook me a fried egg. God bless her soul. Not one, not two, but three attempts later, she presented me with the perfect egg that has set the bar ever since. I was only five and my aunt was clearly far too nice. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that my grandma played victim to my egg issues several times too.
When I dine out for breakfast, it's the eatery's egg preparation that determines whether I'll return for a future visit. Marchand's Bar and Grill, a gem located in St. Pete's beautiful Vinoy Renaissance resort, definitely does eggs right. Featuring an egg dominant Sunday brunch admist live music and gorgeous water views, the hospitable hotel restaurant is an absolute must for bay area residents and tourists alike.
In addition to my egg obsession, you also probably already know that I have a thing for Bloody Mary's. Friends, I have never, in my adult life, seen a bloody mary bar quite like the one at Marchand's. It's an absolute masterpiece. Donning a spicy and a regular tomato juice mixer, the bar also offers house-cured beef jerky, salami, mozzarella balls, feta stuffed peppadew peppers, goat cheese stuffed olives, pickled okra, horseradish, celery, an array of hot sauces, and so much more. From the moment the server handed me a glass of ice and vodka, I was in my own cocktail dreamland.
Before I could even begin thinking about the various egg creations we'd get to feast on, we were given a smorgasbord of supremely sweet breakfast treats. Not a sweet tooth kind of gal, I knew I'd be missing out if I didn't at least try some of the talented pastry chef's specialities. Monkey bread came served in a skillet and was oh so divine. Gooey with butter, cinnamon, and sugar, I was salivating with every bite. We also tasted their brown bag warm cinnamon doughnuts, pecan sticky bun, and iced coffee cake. If you're into the sugary stuff, I can assure you, Marchand's will impress.
Alas, the savory selections would begin! Let me preface the next 6 dish descriptions with the sincere claim that these are some of the most creative breakfast conctions I've ever eaten. So if you like trying new and inventive fare, Marchand's brunch has your name written all over it. First to my palate was the Crispy Maple Cured Pork belly with Parmesan Deep Fried Egg and Roasted Corn Grits. The crunch of the roasted corn kernels supplied awesome texture against the fatty pork belly while the deep fried egg was fine dining meets state fair. Even though every component complemented the next, I was most in love with the grits. Made with purple corn, they were as pretty as they were unique and tasty. I could go on and on.
Next to my taste tester was a serious crowd pleaser. We were all oohing and ahhing over this one. Named Eggs in a Jar, the picture perfect dish, ahem, I mean jar, was filled with Anson Mills Lil Moo Cheese Grits, Poached Eggs, and topped with Corn Meal Fried Rock Shrimp and Roasted Chili Hollandaise. The flavor combination was out of this world. I could've tipped the jar upside down over my mouth if that sort of thing was socially acceptable.
I was already holding my stomach in despair. But the eating party wasn't even halfway over. House Brined Corned Beef Hash was now staring up at me begging for a bite. Topped with fried duck eggs and served over heirloom potaoes and grilled onions, it was a hash fit for a gluttonous king. While the roasted potatoes and grilled onions were delectable, I just couldn't get over the righteousness of the housemade corned beef. Fall apart tender and moist, it was the perfect marriage dipped in the impeccably runny duck yolk.
Because Marchand's definitely has the "go big or go home" kind of attitude, they insisted on bringing us out a sampling of three more savory breakfast entrees. My eyes were slowly closing as I was already falling into a food-induced coma. Thank goodness I'm a trooper. I immediately spotted something that screamed my name. Lump Crab Quiche. Oh yeah. Combining the only "pie" I truly enjoy with my favorite creature from the sea...and you've scored greatness. Decorated with a delicious red pepper sauce and a charred leek, the two bites I forced down were almost too good to be true.
Just when I was wondering why Marchand's didn't have a signature benedict, I saw something unusually awesome. This combo took benedict to a whole new level. A Red Wine poached egg and La Quercia Prosciutto came piled over Sourdough toast and topped with Béarnaise. Who would've ever thought to poach an egg in wine? Only Marchand's. Not only cool to look at, the egg took on a yummy flavor from the wine too. With sourdough instead of the standard english muffin, prosciutto replacing the Canadian bacon, and Bernaise in place of Hollandaise, I was blown away with the drool-worthy taste profile.
It was almost over. A lovely stack of Rhubarb French Toast came adorned with oranges, candied almonds, Mascarpone, and bacon. A little too sweet for my liking, I still found the dish to be well executed in both taste and presentation. While it was the perfect plate for those with sugar cravings, the bacon did slightly off set the sweetness.
I thought our server was kidding when she told us that they'd now be giving us a few desserts to try. Seriously...who eats dessert after breakfast? I was already falling out of my chair and wondering how I'd safely drive home. Then the desserts were delivered. Taking one bite of each, I somehow managed to prevent complete misery. Up first was a Lemonade Cake with Candied Lemon and blueberries. Beautiful with colors, I also enjoyed the tartness of the cake. It was an ideal post meal treat for those who can't handle too much sugar.
I hesitated for a mere second and then continued. My next bite was from the Smore’s Cheesecake. Okay, as much as I just bashed sugary fare, this was pretty damn good. I'm not even into cheesecakes and I can honestly say I'd order this again...in the evening... after a regular sized meal.
For the final (Thank the Lord) tasting, I forked a bite of Marchand's blackberry Cobbler and Vanilla Bean Ice Cream onto my tongue. The tangy berries and subtle vanilla ice cream were a match made in heaven.
I have a feeling that you're either drooling all over your keyboard right now...or feeling sick to your stomach. Let it be known that everything I ate was "tasting" size. Yet...it was still way too much for my appetite. That said, it was probably in my top 10 brunch experiences of all time. No exaggeration there. With quality local ingredients and some insanely creative culinary minds, Marchand's boasts a brunch that is like no other you'll find in the bay area. Do yourself a favor and go there this Sunday. You can thank me later.