There is a kind of low-level anxiety that accompanies brunch: maybe the line to get in will be too long, and we are too hungry or hungover or grumpy to wait, and the complimentary cup of coffee will only exacerbate our low blood sugars. Of course, those of us who love breakfast go anyway, and it nearly always works out. Still, it was nothing short of wonderful (and worrisome) to walk into the Pig & Fiddle, at 50th and France, at 10 a.m. on a Sunday and find it pretty much empty.
Maybe the gastropub’s brunch has yet to be discovered — it launched under six months ago — or maybe all the regulars were at home eating toast in bed. It was, after all, a cheek-chapping -18 degrees Fahrenheit outside.
Whatever the cause, it’s not the Pig & Fiddle’s atmosphere. The dining room is paneled in warm oak, scrolling corbels, and painted murals of Brussels as it might appear in the early evening light. The morning we were there, the pub’s giant stone hearth was lit, and Postmodern Jukebox’s jazzy “All About that Bass” crooned overhead. It was a pleasant place to land in the polar vortex — and, more importantly, a tasty one.
The brunch menu is on the savory and short side (if you discount the lunchy items). Notably missing are a basic breakfast plate and an omelet, but the ten or so items offered provide something for nearly everybody.
The tres leches soaked Fiddle’s French Toast ($10) is the only sweet offering. The waiter brought us three massive slabs of the stuff and noted that the average diner finishes only half. It had a wonderfully toasty crust and a light, custardy middle — and we managed to polish off the plate.
The Corn Beef & Hash ($12) was also a hit: perfectly cooked sunny-side-up eggs on a bed of potatoes and mild corned beef. (By mild, we mean it had not been brined into a chewy salt lick.) A smattering of bright microgreens, scallions, and harissa ketchup scattered across the whole provided a nice break from the soft, comforting profile.
The Huevos Rancheros ($10) combined shredded chicken in a lightly spicy red sauce with super-crispy fried corn tortilla pieces, avocado, scallions, and crema. The meat was tender, the texture was marvelous, but the sauce needed a tad more kick. The kitchen brought us some Cholula hot sauce, and it was spot on. The harissa ketchup’s smoky tang would have been good here, too.
Although we could have wished the hollandaise sauce a little lighter and more lemony, the Veggie Eggs Bennett ($10) was still satisfying. Rather than the classic spinach or ham, it featured thinly sliced chanterelles, zucchini, asparagus, and sweet peppers. The veggies were tender but firm, providing a pleasing juxtaposition of texture and flavor with the poached egg, toasted English muffin, and thick hollandaise.
If a person were hung over, they might go for the Breakfast Burger ($12), a 50-50 beef and pork patty with a fried egg, cheddar cheese, and bacon, all stacked on an English muffin. The patty was juicy enough, but it had the single, salty pork note of a breakfast sausage. Once again, the harissa ketchup helped out. The burger came with some flavorful potato wedges that were, on this day, not quite cooked all the way through.
It’s also worth mentioning the serviceable Bloody Mary ($8), which comes with a stack of sharp cheddar cheese, cocktail olives, and dill- and bread-and-butter pickles as well as a beer back of Fulton Lonely Blonde. The Bloody had a mild zing and was, as one dining companion said, tomato forward.
All in all, we had a good meal at the Pig & Fiddle, and the only thing really missing was the din of contented diners.
Pig & Fiddle
Brunch at 50th and France
3812 W 50th St, Minneapolis, MN
VEGETARIAN / VEGAN: Yes / No
ENTREE RANGE: $12-$22
NOISE LEVEL: We didn’t visit on a representative day
Mon-Thu 11 a.m.-1 a.m.
Sun brunch 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
PARKING: Street and lot