Residents of Greenwich are no strangers to The Beach House Café located on Sound Beach Avenue in Old Greenwich. The restaurant, with its beachy-chic interior and seafood fare with a fresh, Asian twist, has been a local favorite since it was re-opened in 2016 by restauranteur Kane Xu.
Just recently The Beach House Café opened a second location in South Norwalk, directly across from the Maritime Center. While it retains a nautical theme with reclaimed wood, dock-line roping, seaside prints and dock-master lanterns, the vibe here is edgier, more urban, lending itself perfectly to the SoNo landscape.
I had the opportunity to visit the new SONO location for brunch a few weeks ago and was struck by the Southern influence, though perhaps I shouldn’t dismiss the fact that the restaurant’s current location once belonged to Mama’s Boy, known for its Southern cuisine. The Brunch Menu boasts a great many choices, seemingly something for everyone, unless you’re like me, indecisive with an extensive palate and healthy appetite.
We started off with the Gorilla Bread, a giant cinnamon roll, filled with cream cheese, dulce de leche and praline pecans. While not something I would have ordinarily ordered, preferring the savory to the sweet, I was quite taken. My attempt to have just one bite proved futile. The stuffed, soft cinnamon roll on steroids, was indeed an unexpected treat. This is something best shared with a friend… or two.
Should you prefer something a bit savorier, I might steer you to the Fried Wontons filled with cream cheese and a delightful pepper jelly that offers a kick of spicy sweetness. (Before I continue, a note of forewarning: You may want to hit the treadmill or a spin class before dining here.)
In my opinion, brunch isn’t brunch without a good egg dish. Here the Benedicts (Egg, Lobster, and Crab Cake) won’t disappoint. The Lobster was my favorite with a healthy portion of meat from the claw. The Crab Cake was so incredibly light it seemed devoid of the prerequisite breadcrumbs. The Hollandaise sauce (the same on all) was on point with a vibrant note of lemon on top of perfectly poached eggs with bright yellow yolks that burst forth when pierced by forks and knives. My only slight criticism, the English muffins could have stood for a bit more toasting. But that’s easily remedied.
For those of you hailing from the Deep South, or just wish you did, you might find that the Chicken and Waffles, Chicken Fried Steak and Shrimp and Grits will remind you of Grandma’s home cookin’. The marinated, crispy battered chicken and waffles was complemented by the Habanero jelly and Brookside Farms Maple Syrop. But it was the Habanero Jelly that truly stood out. Don’t let the name alarm you, the heat is mild and the sweetness is all there too.
I got to sample my first ever Chicken Fried Steak and I dare say it won’t be my last. Tender, crisp, and highly flavorful, the steak was accompanied by a smoked paprika pork sausage gravy, breakfast potatoes, and a fried egg. Forgive me for saying so but I’d trade the gravy, potatoes and egg for another slab of beef. This New England gal by way of New York City may not have grown up on Shrimp and Grits, but I know what I like, and this hit the spot. Succulent pieces of shrimp sit atop a bowl of light, creamy grits, paprika-smoked tasso (pork), spring onions and pimento gravy. This is truly one of the better Shrimp and Grits I’ve had locally.
Now some say that brunch isn’t complete without a Bloody Mary. The Bloody Mary here was stupendous, bursting with flavor, almost thick enough to chew. Perhaps you want yours spiced up some? You can ask for the Ring of Fire, complete with Jalapeno peppers. Perhaps Jerky is your thing, then you won’t go wrong with the Big Ol’ Boy.
A disclaimer; I don’t do Mimosas – I don’t want anyone diluting my Champagne, but to each his own…
The Beach House Café SoNo is located at 19 North Water Street in South Norwalk directly across from the Maritime Aquarium. Because of its location, I absolutely would not hesitate to bring my kids for lunch or for an early dinner.