Decadent. That seems to be the best way to describe my Sunday morning meal at Can Can Brasserie in Carytown. In the time it’s taken me to write this review, I’ve actually been to brunch there twice. The second time, I went savory instead of sweet so I feel like I’ve gotten a well-rounded impression of this Richmond establishment.
Can Can Brasserie is located in the heart of Carytown and has been around for about 9 years. It looks, sounds, and smells how a 19th century French bistro in my best imagination would be. The space itself is bright, open, and sprawling (with over 100 seats and 3 private dining rooms). Loaves and baguettes are stacked on shelves and the rich smell of coffee permeates the air. Total French decadence. And I haven’t even mentioned the menu!
Their menu slightly changes from week to week, depending on seasonal fruits and vegetables and on the chef’s impulse. There’s something to be said for this flexibility…it adds some excitement to what could be an otherwise predictable meal. Although, to be honest, I didn’t expect predictable when going to a French restaurant to begin with.
How do you like your coffee? And I don’t mean just with or without sugar and cream. Latte, cappuccino, French press, drip…Can Can has it all, plus some. I opted for the French press my first visit and it was nothing short of delicious. The drip coffee on my second visit was also great and stayed above the half-full mark during my meal thanks to our attentive server.
On my first brunch visit to Can Can, I order the French Toast Pave which incorporated the flavors of coffee, chocolate, and hazelnut. It was completely unlike any other French toast I’ve ever eaten. “Pave” means something along the lines of “cobblestone” in French, which explains the size and shape of the meal that was placed before me. The pieces of bread were incredibly thick and heavily soaked in what I believe was a mocha custard. Honestly, all signs pointed to this being a dessert…for breakfast. Why not? I thoroughly enjoyed the dish, once I adjusted my initial expectations. It was definitely not crusty, nor intended to be topped in butter and maple syrup. It was a French adventure that I tackled 1/3rd of and then boxed up for later…
Should I be embarrassed to have ordered both a side of bacon and a grapefruit brulee along with my French Toast? Nah. When at Can Can, be extravagant (everyone else is doing it!). The bacon was the perfect salty compliment to my French toast; and for $3.50, the serving was HUGE.
Sadly, I do not think that biscuits exist in France…at least not the typical American southern version. I went into brunch knowing and accepting this. As we waited for our entrees, we were instead offered a basket of assorted breads and butter. There seemed to be slices of a French baguette, a wheat variety, and my favorite: a wonderful pink-tinted nutty, seedy, dried fruit bread. The things I would do with that bread! Again, if you’re feeling extravagant, the lower half of their brunch menu includes “Pastisserie/Boulangerie” items like croissants, rolls, muffins, scones, and–HELLO–beignets!
My round two, a few weeks later, included the tartine: an “open-faced” sandwich with white bean spread, artichoke, bacon, fresh greens drizzled with vinaigrette and a fried egg on top. The flavors were great and the forkable sandwich was good in theory, but I had the hardest time cutting and biting into the bread! Just be aware.
Aside from the Eggs Benedict, nothing you will find on Can Can’s menu is typical or expected. Two dishes I especially love and appreciate are the hash and waffles. The hash’s ingredients are changed often, for example: duck confit, beef brisket…but the ingredient and sauce combinations are always interesting and right on point! My mom ordered the brisket hash on our first visit (pictured below). In addition to the brisket, egg, and sauce, there were brussel sprouts and possibly mushrooms. Really, it was SO GOOD. I mainly think the waffles are great because they aren’t the Belgian–pretty much the only kind you find nowadays! Instead, they are flatter and crisp (think Ego)…and way underrated!
Hope y’all have a great spring weekend! Make it special, and please have some brunch