The Village Idiot *A Brunch Review*
I have been to the Village Idiot on a scant few occasions. These visits have only been during random times, however, always in the evenings. I have seen it packed out with people and I have seen it moderately empty. I have had a few glasses of assorted wines and I have had a couple of appetizers from the evening menu. It is a lovely space that boasts lofted wood beam ceilings, chalkboard menus, brick walls, skylights and large street-facing windows. It’s located along the touristy Melrose stretch of boutiques, tattoo parlors, fetish shops and cafes. While this is not exactly my nook of the city, The Village Idiot has been a convenient meeting place, a convenient watering hole, in a convenient location.
This past Sunday I met a friend there for brunch. Normally I would poo-poo the idea as I’m not extremely familiar with Idiot’s (as the cool kids refer to it) food but what I do know is no great shakes. HOWEVER, I am always willing to try a new brunch spot and I heard it would be practically empty (a plus for me on a Sunday morning). Meaning, I could camp out and spread out at either the bar or a table, do my crossword, have a few bloody mary’s, and eat whenever it suited me.
The rumor was true; there were only about 6 other people in the place when I arrived. So, I sidled up to the bar, slapped the paper down and ordered my bloody and a coffee. The bloody appeared in a pint glass, which is always a plus. But what’s this? It was also really good! It was spicy and thick and strong. The coffee was from Intelligentsia and quite exceptional, as is widely known. So far, so good.
I might add that at this point, that I like to sip my beverages (of which I have three, now, counting my water), and toil with the crossword while I work up to the food. I appreciated the bartender (as I sat at the bar) giving me my space and distance, never hounding me to order. And he was an incredibly affable chap.
The brunch menu is really going for the Brit style. Traditional English breakfast: bangers, mash, beans, toast, rashers, etc. It is actually a pretty extensive menu beyond that as well. Everything from homemade breakfast bread to cherry-cashew granola… from whiskey cured ocean trout with toasted brioche, crème fraiche and pickled beets to fried duck eggs, chorizo, tomato, chiles & yellow corn grits… from tomato ricotta tart with poached eggs and herb salad to lemon ricotta pancakes with sliced bananas and honeycomb butter. The Idiot’s (see, I'm cool, now) brunch menu also has, among other items, a selection of English pies; sandwiches, including “Breaux & Sheftell” filet-o-fish, butter lettuce, house tartar sauce & slaw; a pub burger; salads; stuffed bacon wrapped dates with a roasted pepper tomato sauce and steamed mussels.
I ordered the Fried Duck Egg over Polenta and Grilled Vegetables. It was quite good. I am not a huge bell pepper fan and found there to be a few too many of them scattered about in the polenta. But at least they were the red and yellows, not the greens. The dish had a nice, rich flavor, the polenta’s texture was spot on, and the egg was a resplendent specimen. I also ordered a side of bacon, which was delicious, thick, peppery and smoky.
My friend had the full English breakfast which included eggs (he had his scrambled) & beans on toast (again a nice thick slice of homemade bread), rasher & banger, roasted tomatoes and mushrooms. The rasher was not your ordinary ‘rasher’ of plain smoked bacon, but a ‘bacon’ made of thinly sliced pork loin.
The pace at the Idiot started to pick up as the day wore on but it was never even remotely crowded or loud. I felt it was a bit dark and, obviously, smelled like a bar. I appreciate the British pub effect in the menu, but again, it’s not entirely my style. On occasion, perhaps. But even while I was in England, it was never exactly the food that thrilled me. Yorkshire pudding downright scared the b’jeezus out of me (although I think I’d really fancy it these days). I’m telling you that I definitely won’t be a regular – at any time of day – at the Village Idiot. But I know a lot of other people are and the good folks that run the place are doing a damn fine job. I’ll just say that although it’s not in my circulation, I’m glad it’s in the world.
The Village Idiot
7383 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90046