By Sara Newberry
I try so many new restaurants that a place has to be pretty special for me to put it into my regular rotation after I’ve written about it. Lounge Here made the cut, as did Oni Ramen. And now I will add Oni’s neighbor, IdleRye, to that list. On both of my visits, once for brunch and once for dinner, I was impressed with the experience, from the service to the atmosphere to the food.
The space is a mix of hard and soft, with cushy leather booths, exposed steel beams and copper light fixtures. It’s warm and welcoming. The service is knowledgeable and opinionated (in the best way). It’s clear that the owners, who have worked for Wolfgang Puck, considered the details when planning the concept and the menu.
The menu is eclectic, with dishes that run the gamut from Southern to Italian to Polish. But it doesn’t seem chaotic. Instead, the ingredients are all familiar, so while pierogis and sauteed mussels might not be found on the same menu elsewhere, here it seems to make sense.
We tried brunch first, because so often when I am impressed with dinner somewhere, brunch is a letdown. Not the case at IdleRye. In fact, brunch was so satisfying that I was worried that dinner would be less than stellar. (Spoiler alert: It wasn’t.)
I decided on the Spanish Chorizo Hash as kind of a test. There doesn’t seem to be middle ground for these; either they are perfectly seasoned and balanced, or they are a total mess. This one was on the better end of the spectrum; every bite, regardless of the mix of ingredients, was fantastic. Earthy mushrooms, salty chorizo, crisp potatoes and the most gorgeous brussels sprouts I’ve had in a long time were only elevated by the sunny side up egg sitting on top of them.
The Eggs Benny, IdleRye’s take on the eggs Benedict, features a succulent piece of pork belly sitting on top of a buttery piece of grilled brioche. Chili hollandaise finishes it off. Sound decadent? It is. But all of the elements are in the right proportions to one another, so while it is indeed rich, it’s not overwhelmingly so.
We returned for dinner on a rainy Sunday night. Our server was so effusive about the Pork Schnitzel and the Steak & Greens that it felt rude to order anything else. I’m so glad we trusted him.
The schnitzel was, in a word, huge. The crust was golden and crisp, and the pork tenderloin inside was tender. It sat atop a German potato salad that was among the best versions of that dish I’ve had. Just acidic enough, with bacon fat balancing out the vinegar and mustard, it was a side that would have outshone a lesser protein.
The Steak & Greens is technically a starter, but it’s more than hearty enough for a meal. A crisp and buttery baguette provides the foundation for a slab of confit beef belly that’s been seared to crisp up. A salad of arugula simply dressed with lemon and olive oil and studded with paper-thin radishes and crumbles of blue cheese tops the whole production. It was divine. It’s a dish I will do my best to replicate at home, but will still want to order on every visit.
A side of fries could have used a little more time in the fryer, but were just salty enough with a hint of rosemary and garlic.
Dessert was a pile of just-from-the-oven chocolate chunk cookies made with bittersweet chocolate, so they weren’t overly sweet, just crisp and chewy and soft.
Open since May of last year, IdleRye has been on my list to visit for months, but it wasn’t until recently that I was able to get there. I have a feeling now that it will hard for me to go anywhere else.
2826 Elm St.
Tuesday – Friday opens at
Saturday – Sunday opens at 11 a.m.