A Month of Sundays: Brunch at Prelog’s

 
 
Prelog’s
360 Nueces St., Austin (map), 512-350-2895, www.prelogs.com
Brunch hours: 11am-2:30pm Sat (3 courses for $25) and Sun ($39 buffet)
Regular hours: Lunch 11:30am-2:30pm Wed-Fri; Dinner 6-10pm Wed-Sat and 5-9pm Sun
 
UPDATE: Prelog's has closed
 
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 05.04.16
 
The bounty of Prelog’s Sunday brunch buffet isn’t expressed by silver chafing dishes lined up like army barracks. There are modest plates and bowls on the buffet line. Roasted vegetables, fresh cheeses, melon, salmon, prosciutto, a modest pastry table. No, the bounty here is tucked away on the menu of dishes made to order as part of the Sunday buffet. A salmon Benedict, steak and asparagus, a playful Scotch egg, fish and chips, roasted pork belly, even an extraordinary soup. The bounty also expresses itself in an atmosphere of European conviviality. Table service is warm, informative and constant, and I was patted on the shoulder, thanked and congratulated for my appetite by three different staff members, including chef Florian Prelog, who opened his restaurant in the former Garrido’s space a year ago. At $39, it’s approaching hotel prices, but the experience so transcends that model that I recommend it with a heart as full as the rest of me.
 
 
What you’re eating (made to order)
 Cauliflower soup: Watching chef Florian Prelog tag-team with another cook to construct one simple bowl of soup, you come to appreciate its complexities. It’s a creamy veloute with cauliflower’s earthy musk, punctuated with caraway, scallions and carefully placed ribbons of prosciutto. A showpiece flower in a buffet bouquet.
 Scotch egg: This dish arrives like a wind-scarred stone. Break it open to find a geode of golden yolk and rich ground sausage. A bar snack in most hands, brought to a higher place here by a side swash of curry and pickled vegetables.
 Egg Royale: If a properly roasted chicken is the bellwether dish of a good restaurant — well, to me it is — then a proper eggs Benedict is the canary in a coal mine for a brunch place. If it’s gasping for air, time to get out. Prelog’s is a Benedict gold mine, to both extend and end the metaphor. The egg is more ethereal fluff than white and yolk, resting on a dense English muffin saturated with hollandaise at once rich and light-natured. The carefully engineered bowl is finished with razor-cut, perfectly cooked mushrooms, microgreens and twin ribbons of velveteen salmon.
 A la Minute “Roast Beef”: I enjoy the artful dodge of this dish, with tenderloin masquerading as “roast beef.” It’s cooked a methodical medium-rare from edge to center, sacrificing nothing but a woodfire char at the altar of high technique. The plate’s finished with tart remoulade and precisely grilled asparagus, broccoli and tomato.
 Pork belly: An entree-sized plate, dressed with mashed potatoes and deep mahogany onion gravy and fried onions. The pork belly at its heart is cut with the precision of gamefish, an exercise in restraint. The skin is scored and lightly seared, and the flesh inside is opaque pearl white, a five-tiered trifle of fat and lean, each with the same firm but juicy texture.
 
 
What you’re eating (from the buffet line)
 Shrimp cocktail: This cleverly reimagined cocktail pairs minced shrimp and pineapple in a playful coral-colored sauce with a sidecar of pureed avocado. Mayan Riviera, no. Actual Riviera.
 Cheese board: Blue, brie, cheddar, fresh mozzarella, Italian hard cheese, semi-soft, candied pecans, fruit. If Prelog’s were a friend from church, you’d say they were showing off. But you’d damn sure go to all their parties.
 Melon and prosciutto: Mounted with wooden stakes, these blocks of cantaloupe shrouded in rich Italian ham make fat and sweet seem virtuous.
 
What you’re drinking
 Bowle: For $20, Prelog’s will give you the run of the brunch bar — all the Bloody Marys, mimosas, wine, juices and coffee drinks you can handle. About the price of two cocktails. But for the price of one cocktail, you can get one of the best in Austin. Prelog’s “Bowle” is a recipe from co-owner Romana Prelog’s mother, with strawberries, cognac and white wine aged together, then finished with bubbly for a drink with the same bright color, sweetness and refined effervesence of this European creekside retreat. ($8)
 
 
Something sweet
 Chocolate mousse and housemade yogurt: One is dark and grainy with big cocoa swerve. The other is all lemon-mango creaminess with a disarming twang. Together they — I don’t know — fight crime? Sweet.
 Pastries: You won’t see tower after tower of sweets at Prelog’s buffet. What you will see is four or five well-executed, house-baked pastries, including a butterflake raspberry rosette, apple strudel, dense sweet poundcake with fresh whipped cream and a sour cherry tart with dark chocolate.
 Croissants: Forget everything else in this review and just mound a buffet plate with these petite croissants, spring for the bottomless cappuccino and don’t come up for air until 2:30. They’re an ideal trio of butter, whispery crust and breakaway fluff.
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A Month of Sundays: 31 Austin brunches
 
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)