The shtick: Unexpectedly upscale sustenance for day-drinkers.
The vibe: The outdoor space at this behemoth restaurant/bar/lounge tops many folks’ list of warm weather drinkin’ destinations. As we learned on our brunch visit, the lush patio also gets plenty of daytime action. We observed a group of gals kicking off a bachelorette party and a nearby pack of dudes who loved them. But still, from our umbrella-topped table, the vibe was serene and inviting. Kind of felt like a tropical vacation. 8 out of 10
The drinks: The Market Mary ($10), made currently with peaches sourced from the Green City Market, plus vodka (produced mere blocks away at CH Distillery), habanero pepper, black pepper, and vinegar, sounded refreshing on this stiflingly hot Saturday. And indeed it was, but we couldn’t help thinking it needed one more bloody ingredient—a zesty tomato to cut the sweetness. (Come to find out that beverage director Clint Rogers agrees, and has since added tomato to the mix. Bravo!) 7 out of 10
The food: Our server suggested we ease into the meal with … a bacon flight ($18). Who were we to object? Four types of house-cured meat candy arrived draped across a gargantuan wooden slab. Even to a group of hungry carnivores, the pile of food was off-putting and over the top. Still, we forged ahead, and found the bacon to be a mixed bag, ranging from floppy and bland (Hungarian style) to downright addictive (allspice jowl).
In contrast, smoked salmon with soft-scrambled eggs was a refined beauty of a dish. A thick slab of grilled La Fournette miche ably anchored layers of buttery eggs, salmon, fried capers, horseradish, and other subtle spices. A heap of fresh greens finished things off, creating an impressive dish that’s equal parts indulgence and healthy goodness. 7 out of 10
The service: Our server was pleasant and laid-back—except when we told her we hadn’t saved room for dessert. She seemed genuinely hurt by the decision. 8 out of 10
Overall: If you have a hankering for hair of the dog and a meal that far eclipses the typical, phoned-in bar brunch, get thee to the Dawson. 7.5 out of 10