For many people, seeking spiritual fulfillment at a weekend church service is seen as food for the soul. For others, weekend mornings are made for brunch with friends to provide food (and perhaps a different kind of spirits) for the body.
At Bridgeman's Chophouse, it's possible to get a bit of both at the restaurant's weekly Gospel Sunday Brunch.
Who says you can't get the best of both worlds in one meal?
Located in the renovated historic Read House, Bridgeman's Chophouse is an upscale steakhouse. Named after legendary former Read House employee Peter "Rabbit" Bridgeman, who served guests at the hotel for 47 years, the restaurant features steaks, seafood and other delicacies in a fine-dining atmosphere.
Bridgeman's is located on the ground floor of the Read House, taking up the corner space near the intersection of Broad Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard that was formerly home to Porter's Steakhouse.
The restaurant is meant for high-end dining, and everything from the decor to the white tablecloths and impeccably dressed staff give a sense of quietly assured elegance.
At the Sunday brunch on this visit, local musician Nancy Westmoreland sang spiritually uplifting selections to set the mood. The effect made for a pleasant midday brunch.
The Sunday brunch menu at Bridgeman's is available from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and features a wide variety of both traditional and unique dishes designed by chef Kenyatta Ashford.
Shrimp and Grits ($19) as well as Fried Chicken and Cornmeal Pancakes ( $18) give the menu a Southern flair that is a nod to this region. But more cosmopolitan offerings such as Avocado Toast ($10), Bananas Foster ($13) and Crab Cake Benedict ($20) give lots of choices to guests.
If you go
› Where: Bridgeman’s Chophouse, 107 W. M. L. King Blvd. inside the Read House
› Hours: Sunday Gospel Brunch 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Regular dinner hours 5-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 5-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday
› Price range: $8 for Peter Rabbit’s Chopped Salad to $25 for New York Strip Medallion and Eggs
› Alcohol: Yes
› Phone: 423-643-1240
Being a steakhouse, of course there are red-meat options available. New York Strip Medallion and Eggs ($25) is a medallion served with wilted baby spinach, skillet potatoes, soft-poached egg and chimichurri sauce. Bridgeman's also offers the Gospel Burger ($14), an 8-ounce steak burger with bibb lettuce, bacon, bleu cheese and caramelized onions.
Prices at brunch are relatively reasonable for a fine-dining restaurant and much less expensive than the steaks on their regular dinner menu.
While all of the choices mentioned above were tempting, I chose to go with the Havana Breakfast ($12) for my meal.
Two sunny-side-up eggs were served over aged, white cheddar cheese, avocado salsa and Arroz Congri (black beans and rice) chorizo. On the side were fried sweet plantains to balance the savory flavors of the main dish. I also chose to add a side of house-cured bacon, because, well, bacon.
I also had a Paloma Mimosa ($7), a decadent concoction made up of a half shot of tequila, lime juice, grapefruit juice and champagne served in a champagne flute rimmed with a salt-and-sugar mixture.
The food was cooked to order, tasted wonderful and was beautifully served — as one would, and should, expect from a restaurant in the fine-dining tier Bridgeman's Chophouse seeks to inhabit.
One should expect high-end service at a high-end restaurant, and Bridgeman's Chophouse didn't disappoint. All of the staff were friendly and knowledgeable about the menu and did their best to provide exemplary service throughout the meal.
On top of the great care provided by the server, a restaurant manager checked to be sure everything was as ordered, and he could be seen going from table to table making sure that all guests were having a good experience.
Brunch can mean different things, depending on the group or the mood of the day. It can be a casual meal eaten outside with a big group of friends or an intimate meal in a quiet setting. Much like the variety of items on a brunch menu, it is a meal that is adaptable.
If you are looking for an upscale brunch experience, the Sunday Gospel Brunch at Bridgeman's Chophouse is a great choice. The offerings are both familiar and unique, and the food and service are top quality.
I don't know if it was Westmoreland's gospel singing, the Havana Breakfast or the Paloma Mimosa, but brunch at Bridgeman's was a religious experience during my visit.
Contact Jim Tanner at JFTanner@gmail.com. Follow him at twitter.com/JFTanner.