After a bunch of busy weekends in a row including travel to Canada twice for some curling tournaments and then working the opening weekend of Christmas trees at my parent’s business back in Buffalo, Carrie and I were ready to relax a little bit and get out of the house for brunch. We aren’t regulars anywhere for Sunday brunch so after remembering some positive recommendations from friends, we decided on at Banzai Sushi and Cocktails in the South Wedge. We didn’t have a particularly good taste in our mouths from the food we had on our visit to Piranha (former sister restaurant) earlier this year, but walked in with open minds hoping to be pleasantly surprised.
Banzai did the interior up right with huge amounts of exposed brick, some fantastic sea based art pieces on the walls and great looking glass light fixtures. It fits really well with the vibe of the other businesses along that side of South Ave with the comfortable slightly urban feel. A success on that front.
The short brunch menu we ordered from was focused on brunch classics with a couple of Asian twists including a breakfast banh mi and pork belly all over the place. We split the new and old with an order of the Bacon Benedict and one of the breakfast banh mi with home fries. Our order came with a complimentary cranberry orange scone and some sliced up fresh fruit which was a nice touch. The scone was well flavored with both cranberries and orange zest but ended up a bit on the sweet side for our tastes especially with the drizzled frosting.
The breakfast banh mi was served up on a toasted sub roll filled with pork belly, two fried eggs, pickled veggies and a creamy sauce with a light Sriracha kick to it along with a side of the home fries. The toasted bread and the nicely seared pork belly added a good amount of browned flavors to the party and the acid of the veggies did a good job of cutting through the rich elements. On the downside, the fried eggs were well done which took away from the runny yolk factor that I love so much and the bread didn’t offer the exterior crustiness that I love in a good banh mi sandwich. More of a basic sub roll than the “baguette” that they advertised on the menu. Not a bad sandwich overall especially since I liked the concept of it, but nothing I’d consider better than OK. My read on the home fries is that they were baked instead of pan cooked and the onions and poblano peppers were added after. The texture didn’t quite work for me since it lacked those aggressively seared edges that can come with a hot pan and oil.
The Bacon Benedict came out looking spiffy with bacon crossed on the poached eggs and the hollandaise sauce cascading over the biscuit base. Unfortunately, what it brought to the table with presentation was almost completely lost in the execution. Now that’s not to say there weren’t any decent parts to the dish. The biscuit was fine and the poached eggs, although a bit uneven, were split between cooked to medium and easy if we’re using egg parlance. Bacon was over crisped, but it’s still bacon. The big misstep was with the unredeemable hollandaise sauce that submarined the whole dish. Texturally it ended up being unpleasantly thick and somewhere between a thick aioli or a flour based cheese sauce without the cheese and it lacked any lemon to lighten things up. I’m assuming the sauce isn’t always like this since I had heard good things about the benedicts from people, but on this occasion it colored our whole experience in a negative way. A congealed, under seasoned hollandaise is one of those things that shouldn’t go out on a plate, especially when we were the only people there when we were served.
Although the entirety of our meal had some good points, we left with a bad hollandaise taste in our mouths and will likely go through our other options on Sunday mornings before we come back and give Banzai another shot.
Note: We only came to Banzai for brunch and this is based on our one experience there.
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