Review by Ethan Hanson | Photos by Caroline Mobley
Tucked into a shopping center off of Rosewood Drive is Kraken Gastropub.
Although unassuming from the outside, the interior boasts colorful walls, string light-lined ceilings, and a comfortable, authentic atmosphere that most “hole in the wall” establishments pine after.
The meal was brunch, and the cuisine was inventive. We tried a bit of everything, from sangria to lattes, red velvet waffles to croque monsieur. Everything was cooked well, and plated with a professional hand by New York native Chef Bridgette Wilson.
The sangria substituted the traditional apples and oranges with watermelon, mint leaves, and lime slices. It was refreshing and delicious!
After a couple fruity beverages, and a delicious latte, the food began to roll out. Altogether, we tried four dishes:
This take on the traditional French breakfast sandwich was comprised of a toasted baguette with herb butter, thinly sliced Iberico ham, cheese, and a fried egg. The bread was charred, but the accompanying flavors helped to mask it.
Shrimp and Grits
The chef highlighted the two main ingredients of this Southern staple, poaching the shrimp and serving them on top of fried grits “sticks”. She then introduced a bit of flair with a delicious Andouille Sausage gravy.
This dessert is not typically on the menu for brunch, but the meatiness of challah and the sweet raspberries were a perfect follow-up to the salty shrimp and grits. A slight toast on the bread would have helped to elevate the texture for the perfect bite.
Red Velvet Waffles
The last item we tested was easily the most inventive on the menu. These waffle “Spoons” were served with pecan ice cream, and dusted with nutmeg. The ice cream was delicious, and the spoons were very unique and flavorful, but the ratio was a bit off. Perhaps the spoons could each come with a small scoop on top, to provide a different texture, while still highlighting the red velvet flavor.
Our food came out hot, well prepared, and perfectly portioned, continuously pushing the boundaries of traditional Southern foods. It is safe to say that I haven’t seen such an interesting brunch spread in the Columbia area for a very long time, and this kind of bold cooking is exactly what this city needs.
Experimenting can be risky, but, for Kraken Gastropub, these risks paid off many times over. This restaurant’s foray into the lovely contrast between hole-in-the-wall and fine dining has excellent potential.
I will certainly be back to try their dinner menu!