What starts with a DIY Bloody Mary bar which, by the way, includes a unique tomatillo mix that makes a smashing Tomatillo Mary, and ends with a nutty crunchy tower of Cinnamon Crunch French Toast, is a definite must-try, especially considering the multicultural spin that Chef Jason Montelibano is known for.
Since taking the helm at EATS Kitchen + Bar in the stylish Hotel Irvine, Chef Jason Montelibano has brought his creative touch to popular American gastro pub favorites. Sunday Brunch at EATS was launched this month and a small group of OC food writers were invited to get a first look at what Chef Montelibano has been cooking up.
Begin your leisurely Sunday Funday brunch with a do-it-yourself Bloody Mary ($14) or make it bubbly and treat yourself to the Mimosa Sampler ($15) – four fresh-made fabulous flavors: peach / passion fruit & blood orange / mango / strawberry-lemon. Yes, please!
Tastebuds awakened, we started off with a dish from the “A Little Lighter Side”. The Frisée and Egg Salad ($12) with a perfectly soft poached egg with bacon lardons dotting frisée tendrils and toasted bread buttered with goat cheese was lovely.
A sucker for Southern Food, I swooned over Chef Jason’s Shrimp & Grits ($19) where the cheddar and roasted garlic grits were embellished with grilled shrimp, runny egg, and a smoky heat from chorizo sofrito and splashes of chili oil.
My photo of the Chilaquiles Con Pollo ($15) does not do them justice – it’s one of those dishes that you have to experience as the Chilaquiles experts at out table declared Chef Jason’s version expertly prepared, i.e. the chips MUST be fried for a balance of soft and crunchy textures that make the dish, but which is often lacking in many versions of this popular Mexican breakfast specialty.
Chilaquiles Con Pollo
Other mains on EATS Sunday Brunch menu include Pork Belly and Vegetable Hash with sunny-side up egg ($14), the Morning After with braised short rib, sunny-side up egg and wild mushroom gravy ($15), and Steak and Tots – grilled sirloin, sunny-side up egg, and house made garlic butter tots ($17)!
Paleo and low carb fans will love this stellar Portobello Benedict ($14) that bears all the necessary components of a classic Benedict on a savory portobello pouf topped with roasted tomato and mizuna. A vegetarian Quinoa Omelet ($13) with sundried tomato and avocado pesto is a wonderful option for those seeking a gluten free or heart healthy alternative at brunch.
We ended this delightful repast with a sweet stack of Brioche Cinnamon Crunch French ($13) vaguely reminiscent of Cafe Du Monde with its dusting of powdered sugar and drizzle of dulce de leche. Please note that the photos above represent tasting portions rather than a serving size from EATS Brunch menu, with the exception of the Brioche Cinnamon Crunch French Toast (below).
Brioche Cinnamon Crunch French Toast
EATS Kitchen & Bar’s vibrant décor and floor to ceiling glass doors flows seamlessly into the sunny, covered patio framed in palm trees and anchored by a cozy fire pit – the perfect spot to enjoy Chef Jason’s creative twist on comfort food while you sip on craft beers, wine, or their signature handcrafted cocktails.
RESERVATIONS: (949) 225-6780
Located at the Hotel Irvine
17900 Jamboree Road • Irvine, CA 92614
Can’t make it to brunch? Red Bar’s Happy Hour (3pm to 7pm Monday thru Thursday; 2pm to 7pm on Fridays) has drawn rave reviews for its incredible value. Offering small bites such as Calle tacos (carne asada street style tacos), shishito peppers, pork belly buns, and Brussels sprout, from the Happy Hour menu for $2 (normally $4), wine by the glass and any cocktail for $4, and a great lineup of draft beers for $3.
The Red Bar area melts into EATS Kitchen & Bar restaurant which has their own separate happy hour offered Monday thru Friday between 5pm and 7pm. Working in the Irvine area, it’s a no-brainer to head over to Red Bar to meet friends, wait out traffic or unwind from a busy day.