Hangover Helper: Monte Cristo Breakfast Sandwich from KTCHN DTLA Pop Up, Los Angeles
Felix Barron should be given the title of Brunchmaster General. His wildly inventive and often over-the-top weekend culinary concoctions are so well thought out, so deliciously decadent, they straddle some invisible line between brunch and all out bacchanalia. Is it a party in here, or did that stiff Bloody Mary just kick in?
On most weekends, you can find Barron popping up in the kitchen at The Gorbals in the Alexandria Hotel in downtown LA, using the same KTCHN moniker that has attached itself to his cooking classes, outdoor dinners and long-running brunches. The DTLA menu (as in DownTown LA) changes so often it's printed on 8 ½" x 11" copy paper, but there are a few constants you can come to expect when this man fires up the griddle. Thick-cut slabs of pork belly will be crisp on the outside, but remain delectably soft and salty on the inside. Potatoes will be slow cooked into impossible fluffiness then scorched at the edges and left to dance with the peppers and onions that brung 'em. Here, over easy fried eggs are so ubiquitous on his plates, they should just toss a couple into your hands when you walk in the door.
But you didn't seek out KTCHN DTLA, then make a limited reservation, then stop at the ATM because it's cash only, then find parking, then get hassled by security at The Alexandria Hotel just to have some blue-plate egg and potato special. No, my foggy-eyed friend, you came to eat, which means there's only one item on the menu for you: the Monte Cristo. We're talking Texas-sized french Toast, soaked in egg batter and fried to a delicate brown before getting walloped with powered sugar. Inside, it's smoked ham with the telltale pink ring, sliced off an inch thick and fried up at the edges. A hunk of melty cheese begins to drip and ooze all over the eggs and straight into your heart. As if you needed a side, those potatoes are back with a laughably small amount of greens, while two over easy eggs plead for salvation.
But there will be no saving you today, brunch plate. Orders came down from the Brunchmaster General himself, and you're being dispatched to the front lines of the war that's going on in my stomach. Whatever happens on the way down, just know that you were delicious, greasy, and maybe even a little shameful. But that's OK; hangovers make cowards of us all. Godspeed.