When it comes to Brunch, it’s almost like a contact sport trying to beat the crowds in Raleigh (I must have sports on the brain, it is Super Bowl Sunday after all). If you don’t make that golden hour between church crowds and late Sunday risers, you could be waiting a long, long time for your pancakes. Add a hip little restaurant opening its doors for Brunch for the first time and you can see the dilemma. Luckily for Market (938 N. Blount Street, Raleigh, NC 27604), the food is so good, I would have waited a whole day for it.
First, the not-so-good. I could tell immediately that the laidback atmosphere that Market tries to maintain would actually work against them when it comes to this busy service. They had two large carafes of coffee that they encouraged customers to walk up and serve themselves with at the front of the restaurant. I can see the point in terms of keeping the waitstaff focused, but since it’s such a small space, it meant that there were constantly people getting up and down and crowding the front area waiting to fill their coffee cups. It might be a little IHOP-ish, but they should have served coffee like they do their water; individual carafes for each table to keep the floor less busy and less chaotic. Plus, I could tell that the staff was uncomfortable breaking the relaxed vibe to accommodate more customers. There was a table of two sitting drinking just tea for an hour at a four-top, while the line of hungry couples grew longer and longer. They finally split the table, but that was a long time coming.
Since it was the first time they served brunch, a longer wait for our food to show up is understandable. The menu though kept me in my seat. Instead of a large selection. Market focuses on a few dishes made with local ingredients and prepared well. Just check out their lunch and dinner menus and you’ll see both imagination and a love for keeping things fresh and seasonal. This extended to brunch, where they had a couple of classics, like eggs benedict, and some truly unique dishes (Huevos Mercado, a breakfast egg taco dish served with slow-roasted goat).
Tony and I went slightly more traditional, he ordered the Chai Tea French toast and I ordered Pumpkin crepes. We both ordered a side of the sweet-glazed bacon, which was a revelation and the perfect fix of sweet, salty, and savory. My only complaint about the bacon was that it was cold by the time we were served it, since it was thick-cut, that meant it lost a little of the crispiness around the edges. My crepes though made me so happy. The crepes were light and the pumpkin-cream cheese filling was sweet without being too rich. Plus, I loved the candied walnuts on top, I scaped my plate to capture every little crumb. Tony liked his french toast, which was served with a chai tea reduction, but we both felt it would have gone from good to stellar if the chai tea was somehow mixed into the batter instead of being served on top. I won the brunch battle hands-down.
I don’t know if Market is planning on doing brunch full-time, their website still shows them as closed on Sundays and Mondays. If they wanted to make brunch a regular thing, they’ll definitely need to tweak their service in order to keep up with the rush of customers. However, if you do find yourself near Peace College on a Sunday morning and magically Market is open, get a paper to read and sit out the wait, because the food alone is worth it. I can’t wait to have a dinner there to see where they really shine.
(side note: the reason for the lack of pics is that both Tony’s and my smart devices both had meltdowns and ended up deleting a lot of data. It just goes to show that you can never substitute a good camera).