A Month of Sundays: Brunch at Goodall’s Kitchen

Goodall’s Kitchen
1900 Rio Grande St. at the Hotel Ella, Austin (map), 512-628-4400, www.goodallskitchen.com
Brunch hours: 7am-2:30pm Sat-Sun
Regular hours: Breakfast 7-11am Mon-Fri. Lunch 11am-2pm Mon-Fri. Dinner 5-10pm Sun-Thu and 5-11pm Fri-Sat
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 04.08.16
You don’t have to stay at the Hotel Ella to have brunch at Goodall’s Kitchen, but waking up in this 19th century colonial mansion and heading to the veranda for coffee and eggs woud seem to have a certain historical resonance. The dining room is mid-century modern, a place where plain bentwood bistro chairs skitter over dark wood floors, flanked by a banquette upholstered in khaki. Clusters of framed pop art and nude figure drawings adorn every wall, and progressive pop fills the quiet corners — an urbane coffeeshop in a history-rich environment with food suited to a clientele that can appreciate both.
What you’re eating
 Goodall’s Hash: The all-stars of brunch tend to favor iron skillets, and this Texican hash of home-fried potatoes, cotija cheese, mild chorizo and soft-poached eggs thrives in the pan. Part of me wishes it were messier, more hashed together for intermarried flavors. A small critique, washed clean by a tart salsa verde. ($14)
 Jalapeño Cheese Grits: The little white ramekin looks demure next to the burly iron skillet. But the grits inside can stand shoulder to shoulder, fortified with jalapeño for a warm chile glow against a backdrop like corn custard au gratin. ($4)
What you’re drinking
 Goodall’s Blunderbuss: Gin and prosecco are natural companions, one astringent and sharp, the other fizzy and playful. Together with lemon and a smack of rosemary, they become the aromatic alternative to a mimosa. ($6)
Something sweet
 Ricotta Hotcakes: For $12 with no sides, my expectations are high for pancakes. These come closer to a comfortable value than most, with three tall cakes fortified with ricotta that gives them lift, a texture like honeycombed cream and dairy twang. Real maple syrup is a nice touch. Banana offers a universe of garnish possibilities, all of them wasted when it’s cut in half lengthwise and wedged at the bottom of the stack.
Customer service all-stars
 While I was having brunch at Goodall’s, the lady next to me was having a meltdown over how her eggs had been cooked, the springboard for a long and loud litany of complaints delivered in a European accent. When the waiter came to start triage, egg lady called him a “stupid American.” Here’s where I would have scanned my list of retorts like Schwarzenegger in “The Terminator,” and at the very least, I’d have come back with, “No, YOU’RE stupid.” This is why I am not in the hotel business. But Goodall’s is in the hotel business, and my server took it like a gentleman, offered to bring something different, then comped her whole bill. All the sudden he’s King Leonidas in “The 300”: “This is customer service. This. Is. Goodall’s!” My hero.
A Month of Sundays: 31 Austin brunches
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)