Sunday, January 27, 2013

Pheasants and P.Y.T.s

Brunch for me usually means lunch.

But not today because a visiting friend wanted to meet at 12:15 and I didn't get up in time to have breakfast before walking over to Magpie.

Good thing, too, because it's a very egg-centric menu on Sunday, something I hadn't known since, despite many dinners there, I'd never done brunch.

I chose a bar table by a sunny window so we had a view of Leigh Street and new arrivals.

Not eating breakfast at home meant I'd missed my morning grapefruit, so I lucked out finding fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice on the beverage listing.

Before ordering it, my friend inquired of our server whether it was sweet or tart and she answered honestly that it depended on the grapefruits squeezed on any given day.

Today they were sweet and pink and the glass of juice was a worthy substitution for my usual.

I warned my friend that the music usually skewed '80s at Magpie, but in addition to the expected Depeche Mode and INXS, we heard a superb acoustic and folksy cover of MJ's "P.Y.T." that launched a discussion of Richmond's overall vibe versus that of Washington.

We're just not trying as hard in Richmond, making for a far less intense way of life, something readily apparent to a visitor like my friend.

For our very Richmond breakfast, we chose chicken-fried pheasant with cheese grits, collard greens, poached eggs and popcorn cream.

The collards were nicely done, not overcooked and generously studded with hunks of bacon.

I'm a sucker for any kind of fried bird, especially when the crust is so well seasoned and as my northern friend noted, the grits were a thing of beauty, long cooked and with just enough cheese to make them an indulgence and not just a breakfast staple.

Huevos Rancheros delivered housemade pheasant sausage, black beans cooked in beer, poblano cream and fried eggs on a grilled tortilla.

The three patties of sausage were stellar, but then the chef is a hunter and a master with game, so that was a surprise only to the visitor.

While eating, we geeked out on linguistics, because that's not an interest I have in common with many people and my friend has been researching a book, so he was full of recently discovered phrases dating back to the American south in the 19th century.

I was especially impressed that he was planning to use them as a matter of course without explanation in his book, a method that's catnip to word lovers like me who want to research what they don't recognize.

One thing I know is that it was my first all-pheasant breakfast and that it had taken me way too long to try the Magpie on a Sunday.

Considering I can walk over (and did) and that they'll already have the grapefruit squeezed for me, I'm thinking it'll happen again.

The other thing I now know is that language nerd chatter is harder to find than pheasant on Sunday.

At least in laid back Richmond.

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