Ask your friends to join you for Sunday brunch and there’s a good chance Ron Eyester’s Rosebud will muscle its way into the conversation. For that matter, if it’s Sunday in the Dirty, especially during the Spring or Summer, you’ll find the city bustling with life early in the Ante Meridiem.
This energy spills over into the early afternoon as all sorts of people flock in droves to any one of a number of restaurants. If church trips are the predominant Sunday activity, you can bet brunch is a strong second. While the menu assembly and atmosphere at these establishments runs the cultural gamut, one thing is likely: if a restaurant is open at this time, there’s a good chance it’ll be busy.
Such was the case a few weeks previous. Amongst the masses of people dressed in their Sunday’s best, I threw myself together and took a little trip to Morningside. Joined by Frosty Alabama (one part him and one part her), the three of us strolled over to the ViHi hotspot, hell bent on experiencing the craze.
Stretched around the long wooden bar and comfortably packed to the brick walls, people were cozy and Rosebud was predictably alive. It was my first foray into their brunch, and hence the 1st Impression categorization. Though well past noon, we scored seats via reservation. They’re easy to make.
The crowd, almost entirely monotone, included young birds in love, elderly couples entrenched in chatter, and large groups of the hip and square. This isn’t a place for cutoffs or beach gear but it still offers come as you are and go as you please. High ceilings and large windows help spark the neighborhood vibe. As the three of us slipped into our half-booth, we had an easy time slipping into our little group therapy session. Though our nearest compatriots weren’t more than an arm’s length away, our conversation seemed restrained to our little cocoon.
As our attention turned from our burdens to our food, we finally saw the first sign of service. It seemed as if we were an afterthought and it was a problem that remained prominent throughout our meal. Sure the place was busy, but be that as it may, service should have been better.
Meanwhile, back on planet Food, nothing inherently differentiates the obverse from the reverse of the monthly brunch menu. One side offered up information on a variety of topics related to the sourcing. Logic would follow that the other side contained the food and beverage selections. Broken down into nine disorganized groupings, there were a dizzying number of choices. In addition to specialty beverages and house cocktails, there were offerings with eggs, more traditional lunchables, and everything in between.
Powered by high quality ingredients, the menu is deceivingly deep. Take for example the two types of grits (shrimp *$14 entrée* and ham *$7 starter*) and the two eerily similar chicken biscuits ($14). Options like that add to the quantity, but not the variety. Consequently, picking something to eat or drink can be an overwhelming task. There is nothing wrong with this approach, but the menu would benefit from some serious shaving and a little more individuality. As it is, Eyester’s menu has a lot of personality, and personality goes a long way.
After finding ALL of the Bloody Mary’s inexcusably tapped, the lady of the hour managed to sneak in a “crispy cucumber.” Surprisingly just $7, the champagne flavor was masked to the point that it tasted like non-alcoholic cucumber juice.
Given that my buds were a serious serving of chef prowess, we tested our gastro fortitude to see what kind of moxie their brunch was made of. Much like their Mary’s, too many items weren’t available. But I digress … Broken up into several unnecessarily extended ordering periods, we managed to start with the eggroll ($5) and the hashbrown casserole ($7).
The casserole incorporated crab, jalapeño, onion, and cheddar. A visual slutfest of yum, the dish puttered out. We all agreed that there was a distinct lack of salt and the crab wasn’t much more than an afterthought in the footnote of a bite. Our attention turned to the eggrolls joined by some ketchup and aioli. Unsubstantiated rumors of Asian ketchup abound. [But check out the kick ass personalized Heinz] Visually invigorating, the stuffing of eggs, shitakes, green onions, and cheddar went down without a fuss. We moved onto our entrées with reserved expectations.
The dynamic duo went for two of the four types of benedicts. He took down the crab and hashbrowns ($15), she went with the sausage and grits ($13). Both were ample in size and moved us all about the same … solid, but absent the umph we’d expect from such a gregarious headmaster. Hollandaise isn’t the easiest emulsion to conquer, yet the creaminess and skill was readily apparent. I wanted a voice and a statement; we got satisfactory if not restrained.
Last up at the dog and pony show was a challenge of epic proportions. Not so much in girth or content, but in mythos. The Sausage McMuffin is an item of legend and fancy. It’s also a registered trademark. To see it so brazenly listed shows me balls, BIG SHINY BALLS!
The sandwich teased with border defying eggs and melted Tillamook on a plush English muffin. Yes, this visually did the trick. Let’s face it though, how hard is it to screw up this? Was it good? Sure, but as with its brethren, nothing about it inspired me, nothing about it justified the hefty price tag, and nothing about it made me feel worthy of the challenge. Better than the original? Gourmet ingredients say yes, but not a win.
Oh yeah, there were samplings of grits and hasbrowns to be had and they all performed just fine. But those are straightforward standards and you’re just not going to earn any brownie points for executing the de facto requisite. No points added, no points off.
There’s something intrinsically harmonious in the relationship between brunch and our city’s persona. The meal sits just outside our everyday consciousness and demands our utmost patience. It’s part of who we are and our identity as Suthuners. For restaurants far and wide, it’s a necessary evil fraught with perils at every turn. That said, if you’re going to play the game, you’d better be spot on. The food was good, but absent of culinary bliss and not worth the price. The service was horrible, and the idea that Bloody Mary’s (and the slew of standard ingredients) went extinct is not a good sign.
Underneath all this there is a great deal of passion and care. While people should shutter at the price point, especially when you consider that nearby Murphy’s tries to be a bit more shi shi for less money, personality goes a long way. Maybe on that front, Rosebud still wins out. Still, I hope for more from a guy who can say so much.
Atlanta Foodies on Rosebud
- First Bite on Rosebud (12.20.09)
- Creative Loafing on Rosebud (10.26.09)
- Gluten Freedom on Rosebud (9.1.09)