The Brunch Dish: Kentucky Hot Brown at Lowcountry
Come early for brunch at Lowcountry: what's an empty dining room at noon ends up packed to the gills by 1pm. But what you'll find is that the food warrants every minute of lost sleep—and its excessively caloric pleasures will leave you wanting to go right back to bed.
Biscuits with homemade preserves (apricot, on a recent visit; $5) and maple butter are a perfectly Southern way to start the meal, tender but flaky with a satisfying crumb. Biscuits reappear with fried chicken ($15, above) and a chive-speckled hollandaise as a main course. The chicken's skin yields a thick, grease-less crunch, separating just slightly from the moist chicken underneath. It's white meat for the sandwich, and tender enough to make you wonder how juicy the dark meat would be. Component by component, it's a winning dish—together, it's that much more exciting.
More of a surprise was the house specialty, the Kentucky Hot Brown ($14). A regional specialty that takes its inspiration from the likes of Welsh rarebit or ham and cheese combos, it's not particularly common on brunch menus I've seen; but after trying this one, I'd like to try more.
Here, the Hot Brown has a French Toast base that's ostensibly soaked in butter rather than custard—a good, if slightly over the top, starting point. Add on top of that sweetly smoked, pulled chicken breast and broken-down tomatoes, then coat the whole thing in what's described as béchamel but is really more of a riff on mornay sauce, oozing with the richness of sharp white cheddar. Still need more indulgence? The crowning touch is a generous layer of applewood bacon, charred to a perfect crunch. A boat of Old Bay fries manages to be a welcome break from the heaviness.
A word to the wise: this is a gut bomb of epic proportions.
About the author: Nikki Goldstein is a freelance food and nutrition writer living in New York City. Aside from her Gadgets and Brunch columns here at Serious Eats, you can find her writing in SELF and the New York Post's new iPad edition, The Daily. Even in her 500-square-foot studio, she devotes an entire walk-in-closet to all things gadget-related..