If you ever feel like you're half asleep being dragged out to brunch, the fantasy-like ambiance of Beatrice & Woodsley will do nothing in the sense of waking you from your daydream. But that's okay, because this is one "cabin in the woods" where we don't mind wasting away the day. Already known as a destination favorite for the bar and dinner menu, Beatrice & Woodsley's carefully edited brunch menu of rustic American cuisine and storybook whimsy makes it hard to pick just one favorite.
Reservations are highly recommended for B & W's "Scrumptilicious Brunch," served Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (although there are counter spots available for walk-ins). It's a perfect setup for a girls' day out: don your finest fur and pretend you're Beatrice, ready to be swept off your feet in an epic tale of valor and romance. It wasn't all sunshine and rainbows though; service was a bit rough when the waiter, a little too honestly, told us "brunch is a struggle" (it's after noon dude; get it together) after forgetting three of our four orders.
Much has been written about Beatrice & Woodsley's whimsical décor, bringing to life the tale of a lumberjack's son who fell madly in love with a French wine-maker's daughter. Located on a bustling and eclectic strip of Broadway in Baker, amid sex shops and alternative boutiques, the exterior of B&W is less than conspicuous. Step inside though, and you'll be magically transported from the urban grind into the picturesque aspens of a Colorado mountain cottage. Similar to the ambiance at Forest Room 5 or Mario's Double Daughters Salotto, Beatrice & Woodsley does its best to make dining an event, but raises the bar with food that's not secondary to the environment. Even the restroom is wondrous and enchanting, if you can figure out how to get the water to run in the sink -- a re-imagined pulley system that stands in for standard faucet handles treats you to a truly exfoliating hand massage.
Brunch features an extensive menu of playful brunch "'Tails and Bubbly" that sound more like rides at an amusement park -- Worm's Wild Ride or the Speedy Gonzalez, as examples -- than your typical hair of the dog (although there is a Hair of the Frog). With the temperature dipping into negative numbers outside, the Hot Buttered Yum was quick to warm me up, complete with cider, spiced butter and a choice of rum, vodka or whiskey. The blood orange mimosa was also a winner.
We started with the signature crawfish beignets and -- feeling adventurous -- the "Monkey Brains," the only menu item without any sort of description or clue as to what they may be. The beignets had a nice soft, fluffy shell, but didn't match well with the Monkey Brains -- which to our pleasant surprise turned out to be pecan sweet rolls, perfectly portioned into four floral-shaped leaflets. Empty plates, without even a trace of sugar left behind, proved that the sweet rolls were the clear favorite.
Wanting to test out the kitchen's Southern chops, I ordered the Hoo-Weee Hot Brown: a plate of grilled smoked turkey, onions and warm tomatoes on a piece of thick sourdough smothered in a sausage and crawfish fondue with an over-easy egg on top. While I wondered how a glorified turkey sandwich would fare as a breakfast dish, this version of the Southern classic earned its place on the menu; the crustaceans were clearly the shining star in one of the better preparations I've seen outside of Louisiana. Another table favorite was the Eggs Johnny Fever, a slab of goetta sausage on toasted onion bread topped with sunny side up eggs and a thick, grainy mustard Hollandaise. Although geotta a unique German-style sausage you don't see every day, it was the veggies that made the dish; bright green peas and delicious roasted cauliflower on the side were the first to be devoured.
We also sampled the Farmer's Delight: shreds of pork shoulder served toasted cornbread with BBQ sauce, a fried egg and a plateful of braised collards. The pork was flavorful if a little dry for my liking and the portion of greens heavily outweighed the meat. The biscuits and gravy were another winner, with scallion biscuits smothered in sage gravy and more eggs. Since we ordered the "garden preparation" (when did vegetarian become a bad word for a menu?), Polish sausage was subbed out for a kale patty, giving it a wholesome, crisp finish. If one of your resolutions was to eat more greens, Beatrice & Woodsley is one place that makes it pretty easy to do -- enjoyably.