Brunch Guide: Angry Bear Kitchen
There's a lot going on inside this deceptively simple, long and narrow Old North space defined by thick brick walls. Mason jars serve as overhead lamps, brash artworks with farmhouse references lend splashes of color and near the bar there's a photo commemorating the cinematic attempt of Cool Hand Luke (aka Paul Newman) to eat 50 eggs. Most important, though, is the farm-to-table-focused cooking of three talented co-chefs whose citified twists on hearty, country-style fare consistently attract a packed brunch-time crowd.
The Bloody Mary, $8
This zippy, pickle-y and lightly garlic-accented refresher made with house-infused pepper vodka is one of those potent hangover-cures served with a veritable hors d'oeuvres plate of garnishes. The obvious add-on star is a thick and addictive strip of peppery candied bacon - but able supporting roles are played by a cheese-stuffed olive, cornichon and pickled green bean.
Savory: Fried Pork Belly, $11
Following the modernist approach that helps distinguish Angry Bear's cuisine, this dish is a deconstructed riff on that brunch-time cliché of eggs benedict. The Canadian bacon component gets a substantial upgrade via two honking slabs of crisped-up pork belly whose wonderful crusts lead to melt-in-your-mouth meat layered with flavor-bomb fat. Lush hollandaise sauce atop two poached eggs next to grilled house sourdough bread (seemingly at least partly made of whole wheat) completes the creatively reimagined benedict picture. Grounding the killer composition: Juicy braised greens with an appealing texture that falls between tender and firm.
Sweet: Donuts, $1
Newsflash: Most places with "homemade" donuts use shipped-in batter. Not Angry Bear, whose variable donuts du jour are an amazing value. When I last visited, a buck bought two glazed, warm and yeasty donut holes - because sometimes, fresh and simple can't be beat.
Angry Bear makes the kind of meaty and wonderfully creamy sausage gravy ($3.50) you might spoon up like soup if "eating-fever" describes your brunching mood - but you can also ladle it onto a huge homemade biscuit ($2) if you're feeling less frisky.
Angry Bear Kitchen
2653 N. High St.,