We actually ate brunch at Knox Mason months ago when I was still pregnant (very pregnant), so I’m a bit behind on writing up this review post, but it was very memorable! For the record, it seems like only yesterday…
It was a quiet Sunday morning. We managed to arrive before the crowds trickled in and had most of the place to ourselves, which was nice in such a cozy restaurant.
If you get a seat towards the back of the restaurant, then you will have the pleasure of watching the chefs prepare your food through the open kitchen. You can also grab a seat at the long open bar to really see the action. Knox Mason has a done a great job of designing a restaurant that utilizes the space well since it sits in one of the narrow suites along the historic 100 block of Gay Street.
The open kitchen concept with bar seating along one side and tabletop seating along the opposite wall allows the space to feel a bit larger. While this is a great design, keep in mind that this type of layout means that when the restaurant is crowded and bustling, it is likely a bit noisy, so less of an intimate feel, but a fun restaurant for a group! And if it’s a nice day, there is also a patio out back where you can ask to be seated that might be a bit quieter.
With a focus on local produce and ingredients that are available in season, the menu is kept pretty simple with options changing often. However, I’ve noticed on the brunch menu that the pork rinds and funnel cake are a staple and most of the mains are pretty standard with a few ingredients being fluid. I am sure this is not necessary true of the dinner menu with changes to it a bit more frequent. It is obvious that the chef has chosen to really hone the craft of creating simple, classic dishes that are done exceptionally well with quality ingredients and a few unique flairs. Pancakes are actually cornmeal griddle cakes with sorghum and house made butter. Eggs Benedict becomes Eggs Monroe with local eggs, Benton’s country ham, and both the muffin and hollandaise being made in house. Knox Mason is taking the time here to lovingly craft each ingredient in house by hand using locally sourced products whenever possible from farmers they know personally. They are not only serving food, but building a relationship for you between the farm and table to truly give the food they are serving the respect it deserves.
For starters, we shared the funnel cake because how can you pass up funnel cake on the menu, especially when you can get it drizzled with maple glaze and showered with Benton’s bacon bits. Maple and bacon is one of my favorite flavor combos. I could probably guzzle this maple glaze straight out of a vat. And I’ve never met a soul who didn’t love every single meat product to come out of Benton’s smokehouse. Put those two things on ribbons of fried dough doused in powder sugar and how can you possibly go wrong?
We quickly devoured this entire plate fighting over the last few bites, but wanting to save room for our main courses. The dough was perfectly crispy, the glaze was sweet but not cloying and thick enough to stick to the plate, and the bacon added the right amount of saltiness so that this dish didn’t feel like a total sugar bomb. This beats a maple bacon donut any day of the week.
I ordered the Mitchell Farms Corned Beef Hash, which gets served with fried egg on top. They agreeably accommodated my request to have the egg well done, even though it’s a disservice to this dish to not have a runny yolk soaking into the potatoes and beef, but it’s good to know when restaurants are willing to make changes for you.
So this dish, the corned beef was so tender it was to the point of buttery. Simply put, it was some of the best corned beef. There were a few pieces that weren’t best cut of meat, but overall the fat had been well rendered out leaving the meat juicy and delicious, but not overly greasy. The potatoes were crispy, yet soft and creamy on the inside with loads of flavor. The hash was also very filling, so even though it may not appear to be a huge portion, this was plenty…even for a pregnant lady able to put away some food. (I was starving all the dang time).
Remington had an order of the Shelton Farms Cornmeal Griddle Cakes. They are served with thick Benton’s bacon, Muddy Pond sorghum, and a giant pat of house churned Cruze Farm butter. Our love for cornmeal pancakes runs deep after watching Nadia G make them on an episode of BK. Hers are thin flapjack style cakes that get crispy on the edges. These cakes at Knox Mason are super thick and dense loaded with texture from the cornmeal. They soak up the sorghum like a sponge giving them a rich, deep and unique flavor. Not overly sweet, the sorghum is a great balance of flavor to the cornmeal. And of course, you always need bacon with griddle cakes.
We need to find time to head back here for dinner because brunch was definitely delicious. We both walked away extremely satisfied with our meal. The server did accidentally put in the wrong order for my husband, but to her credit he was fumbling over two menu items and she realized it quickly so was able to correct it for him. Outside of that issue, our service was fantastic – friendly and fast.
Check out Knox Mason the next time you are downtown for a great meal and experience!! It’s not what I would call fancy or frilly. It’s just really well done, locally sourced food that you are going to enjoy eating.