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September 27, 2011

Alice Eats: The Village Cup

IMG_2784 30 Route 15, Jericho, 802-899-1730

There aren't many places to get brunch after 2 p.m. There are even fewer once you eliminate diners that serve breakfast all day, every day. Driving through Jericho this weekend, I hit the motherlode for late-rising, brunch-craving folks like myself. Especially if those brunch-craving folks want a hearty baked good at the end of the meal.

For a first-timer, the brunch procedure at the Village Cup is a little confusing. There's table service at dinner, so I stood around inordinately long before realizing I was supposed to order at the counter. A server brought the food to my table when it was ready.

IMG_2781 The single-page menu, which changes each weekend, offers plenty of tempting choices. The French toast stuffed with blueberry-and-honey cream cheese, and the Benedict with smoked salmon, lobster mushrooms, and kale sounded good, but I chose the old-timey "eggs in a frame."

This version, topped with tomatoes, basil and fresh mozzarella was a far cry from the Wonderbread recipe I've seen in 1950s cookbooks. Thick slabs of baguette held seemingly cantilevered eggs in a hollowed-out nest. 

While the dish was visually stunning, not to mention an impressive feat of engineering, it also necessitated I do something I have almost never done at a restaurant — add salt. Even the mozzarella tasted under seasoned. Once I added a pinch, though, the sweet tomatoes, almost entirely absent of acid, really sang with the basil and egg yolks, which burst into their own sauce.

IMG_2783 The dish came with a tiny cup of pineapple, grapes and blueberries, as well as delightfully crisp home fries. I guess I should've stopped there, but instead, I ordered a side of marinated tofu. It sounded like a fun alternative to bacon or sausage, which both smelled great as they passed me on their way to other tables.

The curd turned out to be exactly what tofu haters dread. Three foamy slices were soggy, leaking a tasteless brown marinade when I cut into them. At another meal, I might have enjoyed the Asian-style barbecue sauce drizzled over the top, but the combination of sweet, sour and chives wasn't an appealing fit for breakfast.

IMG_2782 "Chef Joseph's Special" made more sense for the first meal of the day. The beautifully over-easy eggs were delicious, as were the home fries, but neither were really necessary in the face of the biscuits and sausage gravy.

These were not the firm, floury baking powder biscuits you'd find at a diner. These were meltingly tender and ever-so-slightly sweet. The gravy was special, too. Sage dominated the rich cream sauce, but black pepper gave it punch. The sausage was so soft, it felt like eating a sausage ghost. Onions shared a similar silky lack of body. I never knew eating biscuits and gravy could be such a sensuous experience.

All this didn't leave much room for dessert, so we ended up taking it home. Or to the car, at least. My mint brownie was so large that I made it last over three installations of fudgy, creamy delight. And at just $2.25, it was money well spent.

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