Two things I’ve been waiting to happen with Chef Roy Choi’s newish Venice restaurant Sunny Spot: 1) happy hour and 2) weekend brunch on that patio. Like every new restaurant, it was biding its time, waiting til it got its bearings before it could go ahead with more new menus. And now, six months after its debut, not only is there an impressive happy hour with $7 Rum Bucks, Rum Swizzles and Palmettos and a $6 Two-Fisted Burger (what a deal) but this Mother’s Day Sunny Spot kicks off a new weekend brunch 11am to 3pm!
Fans of Choi are probably curious to see what he can do with breakfast items. After all, judging from his previous endeavors — Kogi, A-Frame and Chego (all with lunch and/or dinner hours) — seems like the man doesn’t get up before noon.
And in his new brunch menu we see a variety of brand-new breakfast dishes ranging from something light like housemade granola with dried mango, pineapple, banana, nuts, seasonal fruit and coconut almond milk to a meat-intensive Sunny Spot Egg Plate with pork belly and/or hangar steak. Those frightened of change will be happy to see some old favorites from the dinner menu.
The brunch cocktail menu welcomes three new daytime drinks and brings over afternoon-appropriate ones from the regular menu. The new Jamaican Coffee — Americano, Jamaican rum, golden rum cream whip — isn’t as indulgent as, say, an Irish coffee. Twas OK, but I’d rather go for something like the Grounds cocktail with its hit of coffee extract and demerera rum, Islay scotch and anise. The Dry Harbour with pot still rum, lime, absinthe, habanero pineapple shrub was an ass-kicker at this early in the day. But beautiful with its hit of spiciness and sweetness. Lightweights may want to let it stew in its pile of ice for a bit before diving in.
Sunny Spot mixologist Brian Butler said that the restaurant will be hiring a new bartender to handle the brunchtime drinking but right now he came up with a lovely trio of Jamaican Coffee, Bloody Mary with Jerk spice juice and a Pina Colada.
I checked out the brunch during a hosted Friends and Family preview on Sunday with boozy buddies Thirsty in L.A. and Savory Hunter and the following is a rundown of what we had. Unfortunately, tried as we might, we just couldn’t eat through the whole menu. But my favorites were the Salt Cod Brandade Benedict with poached eggs, coconut holladaise and cherry tomato vinaigrette and the Savory Festival Bread.
For cocktails, I highly recommend the Pina Colada which is made with the pastry chef’s delicious ginger coconut sorbet. Served in a coupe with a floating mint leaf, this is not the syrupy pool party drink of the ’80s. And the Bloody Mary was savory and hearty thanks to its use of Jamaican jerk spice– the perfect hangover cure. By the way, since the dishes come out when they’re ready, it’s best to order things to share. Usually this is the best way to sample a bunch of things at once anyway so go with a big, hungry group of friends.
A lovely way to start off the meal. Not too sweet or heavy. Definitely not greasy. My favorite of the combo dips had to be adding a touch of the goat’s milk butter and a dab of rum honey.
What’s great about this dish is that you can order BOTH the hangar steak and pork belly, not just one or the other as the menu will lead you to believe. The hangar steak was so tender and juicy while the pork belly was cut up like really thick pieces of bacon. Not a bad thing. This wasn’t exactly my favorite dish on the menu but then again I’m not a regular meat eater.
Johnny Cakes are cornmeal flatbread, otherwise known as “hoebread” in the South, and here they serve as a great appetizer. More fun and tastier than just cornbread.
In all honesty, at this point in the meal, I was too stuffed to actually enjoy this dessert, much to the delight of my bf who gladly took the last bite. In any case, since I didn’t get to go through the menu, I have a lot on my wishlist of things to get during future visits: cast iron banana French toast, the Islander Smoothie (mango, coconut, pineapple, cracked pepper, coconut milk), house-made caramels, and the entire brunch cocktail list.
822 Washington Boulevard
Venice, California 90292 (map)