Chefs hate brunch, right? You’d probably be grumpy, too, working late on Saturday night only to show up early Sunday morning to oversee home fries for the thousandth time. Staving off the boredom and the irritation is one reason why brunch has turned into a creativity arms race, and Comstock Saloon’s Jason Raffin has the equivalent of highly enriched uranium in a char siu pork egg benedict.
It looks almost like a hollandaise-covered bell you’d ring to get a hotel registration desk’s attention. A nod to the century-old saloon space’s location near Chinatown, the $19 char siu egg benedict — and it is a single poached egg — contains a massive bun, filled with savory-sweet barbecue pork. They’re like any dim sum bun, only larger, and with the addition of nora chili flakes from Valencia, Spain.
If you need at least one other oeuf to get your afternoon recovery in motion, though, look for the herbed falafel shakshuka with truffled tomato sauce and cheddar ($15). Built on the Moroccan staple that simmers for hours, its inclusion of falafel balls in and among the eggs keeps it distinct from that similar brunch repast, huevos rancheros — and with an exceptionally deep, dark flavor.
If that’s still not enough eggs, try the Eggs on Eggs ($12), a caviar-topped deviled egg preparation with plenty of nori powder and “crunchy things” like toasted rice. It almost rises to the level of salad, in an Art Nouveau sort of way, like the punched tin walls near the booths in the lower room. Wrap the meal up with some tres leches french toast ($15), which is almost a corn cake made with hazelnut and strawberry three ways, including thin bits of strawberry glass for extra texture.
Just as you can hear Radiohead on a player piano in the saloon in Westworld, Comstock’s gallery may have a pianist singing ’80s soft-rock one floor above the dining room, and that’s a great soundtrack to a pitcher of Pimm’s Cups ($55, or $12 for a glass) boosted with rye in addition to the standard gin. If you want to get serious — i.e., no amount of coffee can wake you — the Breakfast of Champions ($11) pairs the usual tequila-and-Modelo with a pork sugo shooter. Not everyone clamors for a shot and a beer in the afternoon, but the lager takes to the sugo as well as any pappardelle would.
Eggs show up elsewhere, too. There’s a Ramos gin fizz redolent of orange blossom, and a croque madame with Szechuan gravy, caviar, and a confit yolk on top of it. The home fries, though, are garnished with only a little basil. Even the most exhausted chef would know not to gild that lily.
Comstock Saloon, 155 Columbus Ave., 415-617-0071 or comstocksaloon.com