Saturday, March 12, 2011

Ettamae's Mad World Brunch

It is a practically perfect brunch when you have both sausage and bacon on your plate while hearing "Mad World" sung live. The only place I know where that happened today in RVA was Ettamae's Cafe and I made sure I had a prime table for it.

Ettamae's now has wine and beer so traditional mimosas as well as a lemon/basil variety were available. Talking to co-owner Laura later, she said she's thinking of adding a pomegranate version, too.

"Just trying to keep it weird," she explained and I agreed that weird is what J-Ward loves. "What do you think of calf's blood as a mixer? A bloody mimosa!" That's my kind of brunch humor.

Upstairs, I took a table facing singer Ian Hanawalt and his guitar; a guy at the next table said hello and a couple of his friends smiled. I decided to go with one of the Saturday specials, a sausage, onion, apple and Swiss cheese omelet with toast. For good measure, I asked for a side of bacon.

"Not that anyone needs sausage and bacon," I admitted to my vintage-aproned server. "Need, want," she said. "You'd be amazed how many people want both." I must have more kindred eating souls out there than I realized.

Having live music at brunch is such a treat and Ian Hanawalt was doing a fine job of entertaining us with original material as well as covers. Besides the classic "Mad World," he did Old Crow Medicine Show's "Wagon Wheel," probably best known for Dylan having written the chorus.

My omelet was an ideal balance of sweet and salty and absolutely stuffed with hot sausage (my favorite breakfast type) made even better by the three slices of perfectly cooked bacon nestling next to it.

I used strawberry jam-spread toast and the bowl of mixed fruit to round out my breakfast as I listened to Ian. I'd brought the Post, but against the good food and music, it didn't hold a candle so it sat unread.

Talking to the guys at the next table after Ian's set ended, I discovered that they were a Philly band who'd done a house show in J-Ward last night and were making their way to Charlottesville for a show tonight.

How could I resist asking them about their music? The first thing they explained was that the band's name, Kill You in the Face, was not representative of their sound. Well, that was good news.

The hemmed and hawed about describing themselves, finally settling on something they'd been told, that they had a '90s sound with jazz influences (they have a trumpeter who explained how much damage Dizzy Gillespie did to his face with improper blowing techniques).

Naturally I came home to check them out online where I discovered the irrelevance of their name to the band's melodic and upbeat poppy sound. Now I wish that I'd been at that house show last night (or at least that they come back and play another show here).

But I don't wish I'd been anywhere else but at Ettamae's Cafe for that well-made breakfast, all the more pleasurable for Ian's live music accompaniment.

As the guys in Kill You in the Face noted as we were paying, "This is a great place and a really cool neighborhood. So glad we got to experience it"

Don't I know it, weirdness and all.


  1. there's one thing i like about you.. you like to eat & it always sounds like you're enjoying it...[cw]

  2. I LOVE to eat and I am always enjoying it! Eating is one of my favorite activities.