The burger at Harlan Publick is always the right move. You know, the one on the Wave Hill Breads English muffin, with the sweet, salty bacon jam, and the cheddar ale sauce that drips down the plump brisket blend patty. No one would blame you if you ordered it every damn time. It’s that good and should be mentioned amongst Connecticut’s best burgers.
Spoiler: Harlan Publick is more than just a burger. I knew this, but it was still tough to look past. Even when I went for dinner and ordered something else, I still thought about the Harlan Burger. I felt guilty. It felt like cheating. And it’s not that the food wasn’t good, it was! Fact is, I’ve never had a bad experience at any of the Harlan restaurants.
I’ll continue to blame the burger for clouding up all my Harlan experiences, including Sundays, because that’s a thing, a thing I overlooked every time I had brunch in South Norwalk. When Harlan Publick reached out to CTbites with a brunch invite, I jumped all over it. SoNo’s my ‘hood and I needed to know if I could get over their burger or at least forget about it for one freaking visit.
Harlan’s rendition of chicken & waffles (seen above) was a nice first step. Sweet glazed Korean fried chicken with chili flakes atop a fluffy Belgian waffle with smoked maple syrup definitely made me push thoughts of my “ex” briefly out of my mind. It reminded me of the most American of Chinese dishes, General Tso’s chicken, and that’s not terrible, especially not for brunch, where calories and decadence is an absolute must.
If you are one of those healthy brunchers *cue eye roll* Publick has you covered with house-made granola and yogurt, an array of salads, a quinoa burger (it’s phenomenal, I’ve had it at one of their other establishments), and smoked turkey hash with quinoa, sweet potatoes, kale, and sunny eggs that made me (if ever so briefly) divert my attention from the fried chicken.
So, maybe healthy isn’t all bad then, right? I’d agree to a certain degree. Throw some burrata on a plate with greens, tomato jam, and grilled bread and you’ve certainly got me hooked. There’s charcuterie, too, accompanied by cheese, so that’s always a good decision ahead of any meal.
More carbs? They’ve got that! Biscuits and sausage gravy with poached eggs, challah French toast, and a giant Bavarian pretzel with pungent gruyere fondue. Carby stuff continues courtesy of Wave Hill with a “bread” basket filled with cornbread, croissants, buttermilk biscuits, and monkey bread that may cause fighting over who gets that last cinnamon, sugary, buttery pull. The homemade “beignets”—quotes because I’ve yet to have a legit beignet in Connecticut—are better described as delicious donut holes. They’re light, airy, served warm, and they’re filled with Nutella! So, get two orders to avoid a WWE-style no disqualification match amongst your brunch crew.
But like any brunch, it’s not real until you’ve earned your Sunday Funday buzz. Achieve that with bottomless mimosas, bellinis, or bloodies for $18/person. For me, it may take a bucket of one of those to get me feeling funny, so I prefer order from the cocktail menu, preferably with some form of an old fashioned.
Their cinnamon smoked maple version hides the bourbon a little too much (hey, I like a punch) but it was still solid despite its Christmas cookie-like sweetness. What you shouldn’t miss if you’re a beer geek is Harlan’s house brew, a chuggable honey Kölsch that they created with Captain Lawrence Brewing Company.
Oh, and that beefy goodness of a burger? It’s on the brunch menu. Skip it just this once, you can have it any other time. I’ll do my best to remember that.
127 Washington Street; Norwalk
(203) 831-0727; http://harlanpublick.com/