Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Inspired by Columbus: Super Chefs

Super Chefs
199 E. Broad St.
Columbus, OH
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Lyndsay and I have been wanting to go to Super Chefs since they first opened about a year ago.  We even tried once before, but made the mistake of going for a late-morning weekend breakfast when we were already hungry and giving up when we saw how long the wait was.  So this time we got there plenty early and even brought some snacks just to be safe. Let me spoil the ending by saying I wish we had toughed it out previously, because we had an excellent meal that I wish I had experienced sooner.

Super Chefs has a pretty cool story, which you can read in it's entirety here. But the short version is that the co-creator of Super Chefs is a Columbus native who was the chef for team USA at the Beijing Olympics where he earned his nickname. My wife's insatiable love for all things Olympics (and breakfast) was what first drew us to this restaurant.  We were pleased that we were able to be seated right away, making our emergency snacks unnecessary. The interior is fairly spartan except for a few black and white photos and wall decorations and a large TV on either wall.

However, as soon as I looked at the menu it was clear that Super Chefs focus was on its food.  Even the most classic items, like blueberry pancakes, french toast, or a breakfast sandwich have something that makes them special, like lemon butter whipped cream, fresh fruit, or honey mustard vinaigrette, respectively.  And then there are the more esoteric options, stuff I have never seen on a menu, like baked Alaskan banana pudding pancakes, cinnamon toast crunch waffles, and The Juggernaut, a waffle and fried chicken sandwich too complicated to explain here.

Super Chefs website says that they focus, "on intense flavors, vibrant palettes, and creative presentations" and this was certainly true of everything we ate.  I tend to avoid critiquing my meals in my posts, but for Super Chefs I made an exception.  From the concept, to the plating, to the flavor of each dish it became clear that this was a restaurant that cares about excellence. So, rather than mindlessly gush about how amazing the food was (and it was pretty amazing), I believe Super Chefs deserves better from me.

I ordered the Elvis Waffles, inspired by the King's love of peanut butter, banana, and bacon sandwiches. The waffle itself had a wonderful crispy exterior and a well-flavored fluffy interior. The crumbled candied bacon and banana slices make a great salty sweet addition, though I could have done with more of both.  The caramel and chocolate drizzle is mostly lost in the dish, making for a pretty presentation, but not adding much to the flavor of the dish.  This is shame because a nice bitter chocolate syrup would have pleasantly cut through the sweet and salt from the bananas, bacon, and peanut butter. The peanut butter was a little problematic to me.  Every indent of the waffle was filled with it. It overwhelmed some of the delicate flavors in the waffle and was slightly unpleasant as it stuck to the roof of my mouth. I think the dish might have been better served with a lighter peanut butter mousse. That having been said, I gleefully ate every bite and then started nibbling on what Lyndsay ordered.

Lyndsay ordered the breakfast pizza for $10.99 with a side of hash browns $2.  The hash browns were expertly cooked, nicely crunchy and soft at the same time with a generous amount of seasoning. The breakfast pizza included their from-scratch sausage, candied bacon, eggs, cheese, spinach, and mornay sauce.  The from-scratch sausage caused a division at the table.  I found the sausage to be unique and delicious, it was sweet, it was spicy, and as I chewed it I several distinct flavors came and went. But I will admit, it isn't what you think of when you think about breakfast sausage and neither Isaac or Lyndsay warmed to it on its own, though Lyndsay did enjoy it on the pizza. All of the ingredients worked well together on the pizza and I thought it was the better of the two dishes we ordered, though would have liked a little more mornay sauce.

Though breakfast was quite a bit more expensive than a trip to your local diner, both Lyndsay and I felt it was worth it. Simply put Super Chefs boldly stakes a claim on the breakfast landscape.  They are worth a trip whether you want to try something a little different or impress your friends from out of town with Columbus's food scene.

How I was Inspired
I decided to make my own breakfast pizza based around my love for ham and brie.  I wanted this to be a dish you could just throw together on a Saturday morning without a lot of prep, so I decided to work with an already baked flat-bread, like naan as my base, but feel free to make a from-scratch pizza crust if you are so inclined.

For my sauce I made a honey, maple, dijon sauce by mixing 2 Tbsp. of honey, 2 Tbsp. of maple syrup, and 1/4 cup of dijon mustard. Using a pastry brush I lightly spread a sauce on each piece of naan.

 I mixed some garlic and herbs de provence with some onions and gently caramelized them in butter for about 15 minutes. 

Next I added slices of brie and thick-cut slices of black forest ham tossed with a little smoked paprika.I topped the pizzas with some scrambled eggs mixed with a little cayenne and the caramelized onions and baked at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes until the cheese was thoroughly melted and the bottom of the bread was crisp. The result was delicious and I think it would be right at home on the Super Chefs menu. Here's the recipe if you want to make your own.

Ham, Brie, and Caramelized Onion Breakfast Pizza
  • 4 pieces of naan
  • 1/4 cup of dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • 2 Tbsp. maple syrup (preferably grade A-dark or grade B)
  • 1/2 lb thick sliced smoked ham cut into bite-sized pieces and tossed with smoked paprika to taste
  • 1/2 lb brie sliced thin
  • 1 large sweet onion, sliced thin
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 clove garlic
  • 1 tsp. herbes de provence
  • 6 eggs beaten thoroughly with 1/8 tsp. cayenne
  1. Melt the butter over medium heat until foaming subsides and add the onions, garlic, and herbs.  Cook stirring occasionally until thoroughly caramelized.
  2. While the onions cook scramble the egg and cayenne mix with salt to taste until cooked through, but still wet.
  3. Spread a small amount of dijon mix on each piece of naan.  Add cheese, then ham, then eggs and onions.  Bake at 400 degrees until the brie is well melted and the bottom crust is crisp, about 15 minutes.
Where should I head to next, Columbus.  Breakfast, lunch, dinner, or dessert, if there is interesting food out there, I want to know about it.

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