A Month of Sundays: Brunch at Geraldine’s

605 Davis St. at the Hotel Van Zandt, Austin (map), 512-476-4755, www.geraldinesaustin.com
Brunch hours: 9am-2pm Sun
Regular hours: Breakfast 7-10am Mon-Sat; Dinner 5-10pm Sun-Thu and 5-11pm Fri-Sat
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 03.11.16
A four-piece band started up about the time I sat down for brunch at 11 at Geraldine’s, laying down a mellow soul shuffle over the fourth-story restaurant of the Hotel Van Zandt’s big gray tower, part of the Canyons of Rainey Street redevelopment project. It’s not really called that, but when I profiled the Compleat Rainey Street in 2013, there was nothing over two stories on the street, and now it’s hard to see the sky in some places. Maybe it’s the music, but Geraldine’s feels as much like a speakeasy as a restaurant, with its own one-button elevator from the hotel lobby, a gray brick wall behind the stage, twinkle lights, brassy cocktails and a long geo-patterned banquette like a conversation pit. A supper club — or a brunch club — for a street that was never destined to remain a shabby-chic version of Sixth Street.
What you’re eating
 Fried Potato Tot Hash: Among the most substantial brunch dishes in this series, the bowl benefits as much from the potatoes as the braised pork rib. These hulking mahogany blocks of bone marrow, cheddar and minced potato would punch you in the eye if they heard you say “tots.” Their bronzed ramparts support long strands of tender meat in mild brazier gravy, crowned with delicately poached eggs and a lacy hollandaise that calms the dish like a comforting hand on the shoulder. ($12)
 Biscuit: This series is turning into a biscuit showdown, and this one scores with a crisp golden crown shaped like a mushroom cloud, billowing with buttered layers inside. Ask and they’ll bring fresh butter and good blueberry and strawberry preserves. ($3)
What you’re drinking
 Corpse Reviver: What I really wanted was Sunday Bloody Sunday, kind of a twisted Bloody Mary made with mezcal and sangrita. But the server said that some drunken debauchery the night before had drained their sangrita stocks. I toasted the news with the Corpse Reviver, a hair-of-the-dog standard with gin and absinthe. At Geraldine’s, it’s sweet and lemony and served ice cold in a proper cocktail stem. ($12)
Something sweet
 Sweet Potato Pancakes: The difference between pancakes and potato pancakes isn’t just a matter of semantics. A pancake made with flour is a fluffy thing, a morning carrier of sweet dreams. The potato pancake is more like mashed potatoes in a morning jacket. At Geraldine’s, the sweet potato pancake is somewhere in between, more squishy and savory than the first but sweeter than the second, like a side dish dreaming of pastry. The effect is like griddle-fried pumpkin pie, with tart yogurt, diced apples and pecans with a drizzle of syrup. ($11)
 Greek Yogurt Parfait: The yogurt parfait is a brunch fallback, something to lighten the load but nothing to challenge the kitchen. But this is more like a trifle, layered with berry compote, lemon chiffon, sweet yogurt, granola and fresh strawberries and blueberries. ($9)
A Month of Sundays: 31 Austin brunches
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)