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Owen & Engine’s Brunch Comes Up Short

Even its typically exemplary burger missed the mark.

Crumpets at Owen & Engine   Photo: Carrie Schedler

The shtickPub-style brunchin’ like the Brits.

The vibeA frigid January afternoon. Football Sunday. Prime hibernation time, right? More like high time to tuck into a hearty meal and a bloody, judging by the throngs of fellow brunchers we encountered at this super-cozy bilevel pub. Lots of big groups meant we either waited 45 minutes for a table or joined the smattering of jersey-sporting soccer fans glued to the smallish TVs at the downstairs bar. A no-brainer—we bellied up. 8 out of 10

The drinks There are three brunch-specific cocktails, but the choice was simple: the Red Snapper—a Bloody Mary riff combining Letherbee gin, Colman’s mustard (English, natch), savory beef demi-glace, and housemade pickle juice ($9). Beware: that potent little number will put hair on your chest. It tasted just about right on a day such as that. 8 out of 10

The food We hemmed and hawed at the menu’s tempting array of housemade pastries and decided we couldn’t pass up a trio of crumpets ($6). We’ve admittedly OD’d on biscuits lately and although these are close cousins, their spongier (in a good way) texture and the stellar strawberry-rhubarb jam that accompanied made for a refreshing alternative.

Savory oatmeal is one of our favorite brunch trends, so the steel cut oatmeal “risotto” ($12)—with pork belly confit and a poached egg—excited us immensely. And it was satisfyingly hearty at first, but after our first bites, the fatty meat made it too much to stomach, even for seasoned brunchers.

What we thought would be the pinnacle of our meal was a colossal letdown. Save for the pillowy housemade bun, the Slagel Farms burger ($16; $18 with the addition of bacon) we’ve devoured here before and loved so dearly was a bust—a nearly $20 bust! The patty, which we ordered medium, was somehow raw in places and bone-dry in others. The accompanying chips (“fries” to us Yanks) had passed their prime whilst waiting under the heat lamp. 5 out of 10

The service From our first interaction with the host, who seemed annoyed and confused by our very presence, to the painfully slow service and the shaft on coffee refills, the experience was lackluster. We learned toward the end of our meal that the aforementioned large parties threw the kitchen for a loop, so we must take that into consideration. But it would have been nice to know this prior to waiting 45 minutes between courses with no explanation. One food runner made an attempt at salvaging our experience, delivering a complimentary doughnut, but it was too little, too late—and too stale. 4 out of 10

Overall There’s so much to love here: it’s a wonderfully warm setting, there are more housemade items than you’ll find at any “pub” we know of, and that once-awesome burger, well, we’re not giving up on it. But this particular visit did not leave us salivating at the thought of our next. 6 out of 10

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