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Reviews of brunch dishes.

The Brunch Dish: Untitled Makes a Soulful Name for Itself

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[Photographs: Chelsea Ross]

For a place with such a nondescript name, Untitled certainly goes big and bold when it comes to brunch. The cavernous restaurant's recently instated "soul brunch" seems like it's making up for its curious name with a miscellany of outre dishes that pack a wallop of flavor. The atmosphere is indeed soulful, with the musical, toe-tapping verve of a Mississippi riverboat, but the food is where Untitled derives most of its vitality, with dishes such as chicken-friend head cheese, pork belly scrapple Benedict, and French toast morsels sheathed in bacon.

An apt foray into the Untitled brunch menu starts with drunken devils on horseback ($7). Sounds borderline macabre, but tastes much better. The hors d'oeuvres-like starter consists of poached pears stuffed in dates wrapped in bacon. So it's essentially a fruity, porcine turducken, shrunken down to toothpick-sized proportions. It all works well, with a luscious texture that melds cohesively and a harmonious medley of sweet-smoky flavors. What sort of throws it off is the adjoining mound of blue cheese, which comes in like the wrecking ball in that Miley Cyrus video to confound everything. I mean, I love blue cheese, but it's aggressive and not ideal for pairing with just anything.

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The aforementioned chicken fried head cheese ($11) is at once exhilarating, unnerving, and comforting. It's quintessential comfort food, as long as your template for comfort includes shredded pig head, compressed into patties, breaded, and fried. The patties sport a texture and flavor akin to fried pulled pork, served with thin discs of Big Bird-yellow biscuits and a saucer of Calvados white gravy. The addition of Calvados is wonderful, adding just a splash of tart apple flavor to the decadent plate of fried pork.

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The most fun I've had with a brunch plate in a while comes courtesy of Untitled's brioche French toast in a blanket ($14). The menu notes that it comes with smoked banana fluff, cashew butter, and maple syrup, with no explanation of how the dish comes together. I love going in blind. Sure enough, it came out looking nothing like I imagined. Unlike any French toast I've had, and I've had too much, Untitled's version features a smattering of small French toast pieces wrapped in bacon, splattered with maple syrup, dollops of cashew butter, and mounds of fluff. Cute. Cutting the pieces up like that leads them to become a little dry, which is not terrible considering there's plenty of syrup to saturate. The best part was the smoked banana fluff, which took me right back to my fluffernutter-filled childhood, if only my childhood fluffernutters had been cooked over a campfire.

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Simple brunch pleasures such as bacon, biscuits, and French toast are all well and good, but the thing that really gives them soul is when a restaurant like Untitled takes risks to make them extra special. Sometimes those risks go a little awry (sorry, blue cheese, go back to the salad from whence you came), but for the most part Untitled excels by elevating the brunch rubric and breathing bold new life into the Sunday tradition.

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