Coming to Burch: brunch

The slight jolt that recently sent seismologists rushing to their labs was not caused by a natural movement in the Earth’s crust, but by a planet-shaking alteration in Isaac Becker’s culinary makeup.

For the first time, the James Beard award-winning chef/co-owner of three of the Twin Cities’ top restaurants — 112 Eatery, Bar La Grassa and Burch Steak and Pizza Bar — is going to be serving Sunday brunch at one his establishments: four-star Burch (1933 Colfax Av. S., Mpls., burchrestaurant.com).

There’s a first time for everything, right?

“I know,” he said with a laugh. “I’ve never done it, and actually, I hate brunch. But I asked Danny [that’s Daniel del Prado, Burch executive chef], and his response was so positive that I thought, ‘If I have a chef who wants to do brunch, then I should do it.’ Particularly since it has been my experience that when it comes to brunch, chefs are generally not on board.”

The last time Becker worked a brunch service was during his tenure at the former Uptown location of Campiello. In 1999.

“And it was never that busy,” he said. “It’s hard to not be busy. It’s actually easier being busy. But since then, there has been this resurgence in brunch. People go out for brunch all the time now.”

Yes, they do. Witness the explosion in first-rate brunches at newish Minneapolis restaurants: Brasserie Zentral, Spoon and Stable, Hola Arepa.

Becker and Del Prado will offer a wide-ranging mix of a.m. and p.m. dishes: a veal Parmesan with a fried egg, a 112-like fried egg sandwich built using excellent Beeler’s ham and zesty harissa, eggs scrambled with Parmesan and topped with fried oysters and pickled shallots, a brioche-style banh mi with foie gras and chicken liver pâté, crab-shrimp étouffée, fresh oysters, zucchini fritters and braised pork shoulder with sauerkraut.

Expect to encounter straight-up brunch classics, too, such as Belgian-style waffles, buttermilk pancakes and French toast, along with an assortment of baked goods from pastry chef Shawn Mc­Kenzie.

“That’s one of the parts that I’m really excited about,” said Becker. “It’s really traditional stuff — plain croissants, ham-and-cheese croissants, bacon scones, coffee cake, an incredible quiche — and I couldn’t be more pleased.”

As for seeing brunch at the 112 or Bar La Grassa, well, never say “never,” but don’t count on it.

“I think I’d break a lot of hearts among the staff if I implemented brunch at the other restaurants,” Becker said with a laugh. “We’ll see how this one goes. It’s a big deal for us to start a brunch. We’ve been running tests for weeks. It’s like opening another little restaurant.”

Burch’s brunch will debut Sept. 20.

Artists at Alma

While Restaurant Alma (528 University Av. SE., Mpls., restaurantalma.com) chef/owner Alex Roberts prepares to expand into the space adjacent to his 16-year-old restaurant, he’s taking the opportunity to collaborate with Northern Lights.mn and launching Alma Lights, a temporary artists hub that will support the work of 11 different installations and activities.

An opening reception will take place on Sept. 16, which will include a pre-reception (5 to 7 p.m., $65) that will feature dishes from the upcoming Cafe Alma, including duck liver croque monsieur, smoked whitefish salad and baked treats from Alma pastry chef Carrie Riggs. That will be followed by an open house (7 to 11 p.m., free admission), with food and drink available for purchase. Tickets available at bit.ly/AlmaLightsTickets.

Rick Nelson