Monday, February 22, 2010

Restaurant Review: Hieronymo's

I've never been all that fond of the portmanteau word "brunch." I find it annoyingly cute. And why on earth, if you're going to combine the words "lunch" and "breakfast" (since I assume that's the derivation of this "word"), why not call it "leakfast"? Or spell it "leekfast" and include at least the name of a food in the darn thing? Despite my misgivings, I tried the "brunch" today at Hieronymo's, and I was not disappointed. "Hieronymo's mad againe," and I'm mad about brunch at Hieronymo's. Some have accused me of hubris. As a food critic, that is an occupational hazard second only to salmonella. But I feel that my personal hubris may have bitten me on the hindquarters this time. Because let me tell you, the brunch at Hieronymo's upset my expectations. It brought me to my knees, people. And made me feel oddly ashamed. Ashamed of myself for dismissing their brunch just because I think the name is silly. Maybe, after all, I am the silly one. No--mustn't think that way. But the brunch at Hieronymo's means many things. You can have an egg, say. What will you have the chef do with that particular egg? Maybe poach it. Maybe scramble it. Hard-boil it? No problem. Sunnyside up? Absolutely. Over easy? It can be done. Over hard? Hey, pal, it's what we do. So again, I am humbled. Hieronymo's has a clean, ski-lodge feel that sharpens my appetite like a saw. And so I ordered the egg. Now, I recommend Hieronymo's during the summer solstice, because the waitrons during that season do something very special. They have a way of balancing the egg that will truly astound you. I won't spoil it by saying just what it is they do, but once you see this performance, you will never ever forget it. I'll just leave it at that. Now what I like about Hieronymo's is that they're no fly-by-night eatery. They're in it for the long haul. They don't succumb to the latest fading food fads (anybody remember the Pet Lime?). Not at all. They serve classic cuisine in a classic way. No flavor-of-the-month chasers at Hieronymo's. No sir. And that gives you confidence as a diner. I don't mean a diner as in a type of restaurant, I mean rather "diner" as in "a person or persons dining." Just to clear that up. Ambiguity has no place in a food review. One thing I despise is an obscure restaurant review peppered with private references. A restaurant review must be a resonant review--that's my motto. Just in case you were wondering. Food nostalgia has its place, but I much prefer the timeless classicism of Hieronymo's. I mean, truly, must we keep trying to re-invent the cheese wheel? I don't look for the newfangled when I want to sink my fangs into a half-rack of ribs, say. Food is food. That's what it has been, and all it will always be. What it all boils down to is hunger and satisfaction. So call me simple. I believe in standards and I believe in staples. For me, the perfect restaurant would serve milk, bread, meat, and cheese. That's it. Everything else is just a variation on those themes. Can you think of a great entree that isn't just a mixture of those four? Didn't think so. I'm kidding. That is absolutely not my view. Food must be complex. It must be interesting. I want food that is a synthesis of every cuisine known to humankind. I want every spice in the rack to be tossed in--and the wooden rack too (don't knock it till you've tried it). When I dine, I want it to be intense. The meal should be made up of adrenaline, extreme emotions, reptilian intensity. Erotic insanity. Transgression. Give me a transgressive dish of grilled vegetables any time. I want the soup to crawl across the desert of my appetite like a sidewinder. I want the mozzarella sticks to escort me to a very dark realm. I want the pepper grinder to be positively nihilistic! That's what I'm looking for in a meal, and that is precisely what Hieronymo's offers me. And so that's where I will return for brunch, for lunch, for a midnight snack, even! Hieronymo's is the place for you. It's like a sweet dream where you're holding out your outspread hands below an avalanche of cash. It's that astonishing, and it's that wonderful. Because at Hieronymo's, they aren't just about the bottom line. They actually are trying to create a memorable food ordeal for you to go through until you've changed as a human being. So try Hieronymo's. Don't complain that they aren't the typical plastic theme restaurant. They have other things are their mind, other things on their menu. Things like summer solstice eggs. And stunning spearmint pudding. And wait till you try the mock guacamole! And so, brought low by a place called Hieronymo's, I humbly give it five--yes, five--solid yolks.

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