Bourbon & Branch

Photo by Tina Garceau

Many years ago, when I was working for a South Jersey daily newspaper, the food editor asked me if I would like to be a food copy editor as well as a reporter. I jumped at the chance to learn this craft.

I soon mastered the Associated Press style and continue to use it today.

I learned that a few chefs do not know how to write a recipe and their directions on preparing a dish could be a hot mess. Many do not know how to write a menu.

This may explain the terrible trend of listing ingredients, set off by commas, on restaurant menus. It tells the patron little about a specific dish.

I had this experience at brunch at Bourbon & Branch in Northern Liberties. I will address this later.

The building has been a pub/restaurant since the late Victorian Era. It retains the original tin ceiling and beautifully carved dark wood bar. Simple booths line one side of the main room. Long-time Philly residents may remember the restaurant when it was Liberties.

I sipped a well-prepared Bloody Mary ($8), made with Sacramento tomato juice, although I thought it odd when our delightful server asked me if I wanted bacon in it.

Whenever I hear the Beatles sing “Eleanor Rigby” and “Come Together,” I am immediately in a good mood. I also had a fine view of a soccer game from my booth.

The brunch menu at Bourbon & Branch has something for everyone. It is well-planned even though I thought it odd the restaurant does not serve omelettes.

The menu does not describe any dish. There is a heading and then ingredients are set off by commas.

Lumberjack scramble ($12) was quite confusing. There are scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, ham, and cheddar cheese in the dish. I ordered my eggs gently scrambled. I asked how the cheese was used and learned it was in the eggs. I nixed the cheese. I also had the choice of potatoes or grits. I always select grits over potatoes. A homemade biscuit with gravy was included. I asked for honey butter in place of gravy.

I received overcooked scrambled eggs that were prepared with bits of the aforementioned meats. It looked mighty unpleasant. I thought the meats would be on the side.

The replacement was delicious. The eggs were perfectly cooked. The chopped meats were to the side. The grits were stone ground, creamy, and tasty. The grits could have been hotter. I slathered on the whipped honey butter on the biscuit and enjoyed my meal.

Buttermilk pancakes ($9) were three jumbo slightly thick and undercooked offerings dusted with a little confectioner’s sugar. Fresh ripe blueberries and strawberries were scattered over the plate. I thought the pancakes could have been a bit hotter.

A side of homemade sausage patties ($5) was slightly salty. However, the portion was generous.

Coffee ($2.25), served in a mug, was a little on the weak side.

Bourbon & Branch is just a few doors down from Green Eggs. There was a line out the door for the latter, just like the one that guests would find at its South Philly location. But Bourbon & Branch had just a handful of patrons.

We chatted with a gentleman who turned out to be the owner’s father. He was born in Cuba and came to Philly as a small child. He now lives two months a year in Key West. I found his life story fascinating. We talked about Cuban food and how difficult it is to find authentic Cuban bread outside of Florida and Cuba.

I realized that I would like to cook with this man. I could learn much more about Cuban cuisine.

Three tips of the toque to Bourbon & Branch. ■

Bourbon & Branch

705 N. Second St.