-3 Snaps! Try it. You might like it.
The newly re-opened of the Byblos restaurant started offering brunch about a month ago. I was curious as to how this Mediterranean eatery would apply its refined Middle Eastern take to brunch food. The weather outside was pleasant on an April Sunday morning so we elected to sit outside. Patio dining was pleasant especially with the addition of their new cooling apparatus. However, prepare for the whir of traffic going by on MacDill Avenue just feet away.
The brunch menu, served on Saturdays and Sundays only from 11 AM to 3 PM, has a nice variety of traditional brunch menus along with several Mediterranean dishes.
We start with Quail & Waffles. the Belgium styled waffle is served with a whole fried quail, fried egg, pomegranate syrup, and honey butter. It's a delicious combination. The batter on the quail has a slight cinnamon/nutmeg nuance, the quail is perfectly cooked, and the waffle has a great vanilla finish. The sunny side up egg is nicely done with the bottom slightly browned adding some crispness, and the yoke nicely runny. Just right.
We tried the Byblos version of Eggs Benedict, with two poached eggs sitting on a bed of lamb confit and arugula, topped with hollandaise and sprinkled with zatar. It is all plated onto pieces of ciabatta. It's a stunning presentation, except for the very noticeable charred bread.
As I cut into the ciabatta, it's really tough. The table knife has difficulty getting through it. Ciabatta is an interesting selection for this dish given its texture and flavor, but it doesn't work here since it can't be cut Eggs Benedict isn't something you can pick up with your hands in order to bite through the tougher bread.
The generous portion of pulled lamb confit has a lot of mouth on its own. Being cooked in its own fat it should not be as tough and stringy as it is. The flavor takes over the rest of the dish. It could have been balanced by the hollandaise sauce which has a strong lemon edge to it, but it doesn't blend with the lamb. The eggs are perfectly cooked, and the arugula is a good choice for its peppery-ness and texture. Given the challenges, I wouldn't order the dish again.
I love the idea of creating hybrids between the style of food that a restaurant serves and American standards. It has opened up a whole new world in the Tampa food scene over the last five years. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Byblos has a strong following and I'm sure that they will continue to work on refining the brunch menu.
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