Nestled in a quiet, residential street in West Philadelphia, the quaint, corner row house that is home to Marigold Kitchen does little to distinguish itself from the brightly colored homes adjacent to it. This humility belies the epicurean surprises offered inside, for Marigold Kitchen is a culinary force that has produced restaurant luminaries like Michael Solomonov (Zahav) and Erin O’ Shea (Percy Street Barbecue). Now, under the direction of chef/owner Rob Halpern, Marigold seems poised to steal West Philly’s serious weekend brunch crowd in an unassuming manner.
After scouring the short but comprehensive menu, we decided to take advantage of Marigold’s BYO status and began our meal with perfectly pulpy mimosas and lemon blueberry scones that were crisp on the outside and complimented perfectly by house-made raspberry jam. The strength of Marigold’s brunch undoubtedly lies in its clever, modern reworkings of classic dishes. The Short Rib Grilled Cheese ($10) impressed by offsetting the tender, hearty taste of the slow cooked short rib and artisanal Vermont Grafton Cheddar with sweet notes from quickly caramelized onions. The Kosher Dill Pickles and light salad, perfectly dressed with a horseradish dressing, that accompanied this small but statement-making sandwich kept it unpretentious. The meal continued on a high note with the Eggs Benedict ($12); its eggs were perfectly sous-vide for no less than an hour, and sinfully oozed all over our plate when we punctured their yolks. The Canadian bacon had a complex, wood smoked flavor, and even my fickly-kosher dining companion (who decided to try it “for arts sake”) was impressed by how crispy it remained despite the fact that it was buried beneath copiously poured, yet creamy and zesty hollandaise.
We were less impressed with the Salmon Croque Monsieur ($12); the unpleasantly fishy smoked salmon overpowered the palette and proved too salty when combined with the pungent Idiazabal cheese also found in the sandwich. Though we had hoped that the poached egg that sat atop the sandwich would augment its taste, the overcooked yolk doomed the dish to the ignored corner of our table. Similarly, we were anxious to try the seemingly playful Frosted Flake Crusted French Toast ($11) topped with brown butter baked apples and cinnamon foam, but the dish was surprisingly dry, which we attributed either to an uneven distribution of syrup or a failure to soak the challah bread long enough in batter.
Though it was the very last thing we tried, the star of the meal was undoubtedly the Rustic Quiche Florentine ($12), the product of a classic French recipe whose crust takes the kitchen a week to prepare and is described by Chef Halpern as indulgent. The quiche arrived at our table serendipitously after Halpern visited our table, realized we had not ordered his favorite dish and insisted we try it. Before he even placed plate to table, I was assaulted by the comforting aroma of butter, and tasted it immediately in the flaky, delicate crust which stayed warm from the first to last bite. Unlike many dime-a-dozen quiches that often falter due to either uninspired, storebought crusts or an overbaked, firm texture, Halpern’s recipe, which uses a larger ratio of cream to eggs, set into a pleasantly light, custardy consistency.
Brunch is entirely experiential and saved either for the most seminal of occasions or languid weekends that begin mundanely and, fueled by midday boozing, end memorably. Though a few forgivable misses punctuated our meal, the unhurried atmosphere created by the friendly, veteran staff and augmented by the hominess of the restaurant’s raging fireplace made it difficult to step back out into the harsh winter chill. With great food at moderate prices and an inviting atmosphere, Marigold Kitchen has all the necessary ingredients to create the time-stopping aura characteristic of a great brunch — you need only bring good company.
Marigold Kitchen BYOB
501 S. 45th St.
Sunday Brunch 10:30-2:30
Don’t Miss: The Rustic Quiche
Skip: The Salmon Croque Monsieur