You think that a storefront and all that furniture and those fixtures and cooking equipment, etc., grows on trees? Restaurants have to pay a lot in fixed costs, and can only recoup the investment when the hourly revenue is greater than the variable costs (wages, utilities, and so forth). Econ 101 tells us that a restaurant will set its hours based on when it can earn more money than it actively spends. So for a restaurant that previously only served dinner to open for lunch or brunch generally means that things are going well. Or it means that they want to increase their profile. Or it may be completely irrational!
Three notable restaurants have recently added lunches and brunches to their rosters, and we wouldn’t even begin to guess at which of the three impetuses for meal expansion are at fault.
Sepia has just added brunch, as we were alerted by Phil Vettel in the Stew the other day. (This is in addition to the lunch hours they added sometime in the murky past.) Brunch features a dozen entrees, including a veal breast hash (yeah, veal has breasts - wanna fight about it?) for $10 and an egg white scramble with foraged mushrooms, garlic, and wild rocket (which is basically lettuce) for $11. How could you say no to a side of duck fat-crisped potatoes for $4? And don’t forget the increasingly infamous bacon Bloody Mary, annoyingly the same price as the entrees.
Paramount Room has also added a brunch menu, with tasty and gastropubby-sounding entrees like peaky toe crab and egg scramble with mascarpone cheese ($10.95), a Cobb salad with duck confit, applewood-smoked bacon, and all the trimmings for $9.95, and a Kobe beef burger with a choice of cheese and a fried egg on top for $10.95. Haute comfort season starts right about…now!
A Mano, which just opened, has added lunch. The dinner menu has all these huge entrees (whole roasted rourade, braised veal shoulder, bistecca alla Fiorentino, etc) that are omitted from the leaner lunch menu; instead, think salads (baby dandelion greens with roasted pepper, Capra honey goat cheese and lemon vinaigrette, $10) pizzas (lamb polpette with roasted eggplant and tomatoes, $12), and panini (veal cutlet with lemon-caper aioli, oven-dried tomatoes and romaine lettuce, $10). Or, for $12, you can choose three items off the antipasti and salumi plate. We’d go with…celery root salad (apples, walnuts and reggiano), grilled baby octopus (chick pease and radishes) and mole salame (spiced with chocolate, cinnamon and ancho chiles). Not that these things necessarily go together, but simply because we can.
In the end, who cares why these restaurant have chosen to branch out to the daylight hours. Let us count our blessings and eat while the sun shines.
[Photo: “Ladies Who Lunch,” by Beryl Cook, on CollectArt.com]
N.B. All of these restaurants are on the West Side!