I've been accused of being a hipster many a time. And many a time I have railed against this. I don't wear ugly clothes for the sake of being iconoclastic, I don't go out of my way to find locally made shit or organically farmed food, I'm not pretentious, FFS I didn't even have much of a reaction when David Bowie died because I know approximately one of his songs (I'm sorry, but it's true).
However, while I am loathe to admit this, there are some things about me that one might call...hipster tendencies. I may very well be on "the spectrum," if you will. A label I can't accept though?
Basic. Don't call me basic.
A friend of mine who regularly accuses me of being a hipster called me basic Saturday. I argued you have to be one or the other, and if one is more accurate in my case, it's hipsterdom.
THAT SAID, I fucking love me some brunch. And if loving brunch is basic, then basic I am. I don't know when this started. College probably. New York City is the land of brunch dreams. You can get fresh-squeezed orange juice at even the shittiest of bodegas. No Tropicana up in here, bitches!
As a kid, I hated breakfast. I don't remember why. Clearly something wasn't right with me. I ate my cereal without milk because I hated milk. Come to think of it, I may have hated mostly anything that wasn't a chicken finger.
Now? Now, I am a brunch fiend and am over the moon to tell you guys about Iron Rooster in this edition of our Baltimore Hometown Guide.
A couple years ago, construction started five minutes from my house on this massive shopping center. Naturally, I was super cranky about this (perhaps my hipster tendencies kicking in). I knew a Target was in the works, and I heard a rumor about a Red Robin, the same fucking chain restaurant where I worked in high school in the 'burbs. A friend asked me "Why won't you eat there? Is Red Robin your Vietnam?"
Well...yes. But it's more than that. To me, this was wiping my already-gentrified-to-within-an-inch-of-its-life neighborhood of its urban character. I grumbled about the inevitable traffic, what it would do to parking at the gym, how it all squarely belonged in suburbia, etc. etc.
But then once everything opened, I turned into a Target credit card-carrying, Harris Teeter-sampling, DSW-shopping brainless zombie foaming at the mouth with every whiff of Chick-Fil-A. I still kind of hate myself for it, but luckily for my clearly shaky convictions, a local restaurant by way of Annapolis opened in the shopping center recently, with the promise of serving breakfast all day.
Even though I wasn't a fan of the restaurant in the same space prior, Iron Rooster immediately called to me. And I was even more convinced that this would be the place where all my brunch dreams came true after my roommate came home with leftovers of a homemade pop tart. A HOMEMADE POP TART, YOU GUYS! Apparently, these are all the rage everywhere, but as I am not a hipster, I had no idea and was super stoked. Even 8-year-old breakfast-hating Staci loved pop tarts.
So a friend was in town this weekend, and 10 of us met for brunch at
Steel Cock Iron Rooster. Happily, I was not disappointed (which is good because it was a 90+-minute wait).
But how could I not wait for a place that includes this gem on their website?
Since we can remember, we’ve dreamed of opening a restaurant where people feel at home from the moment they walk in the door. Where the chicken is fried and the biscuits come with gravy. Where pecan pie is a staple and macaroni and cheese is a vegetable.
YES. I LIKE THIS. Further, the menu promises you a mason jar of bacon just for checking in on Facebook or tagging them on some other form of social media. As you know, I instagram the shit out my meals on the regular anyway, and now I can get some free bacon for it? Yes and please. And I can attest, it was some damn good bacon.
The menu is insane. I have to go back so many times now just to try it all. And they change up their pop tart flavors every day. They had four on Sunday -- mixed berry, cinnamon brown sugar, maple bacon, and drunken apple. So, as any set of responsible and hungover adults is wont to do, we ordered one of each and split them as an appetizer (along with, you know...the jars of bacon).
As I was slightly hungover, am trying to be healthy when I'm not around a Chick-Fil-A, and frankly couldn't fathom another sip of alcohol, I refrained from a breakfast cocktail, even though the Iron Crush with fresh-squeezed OJ (!) and blood orange cordial (!!) was calling to me. Instead, I got the OJ on its own and was quite pleased. And I'm not a bloody Mary lady, but look at this gorgeous work of art!
I had so much trouble deciding what to get, and the portions were huge, so I couldn't even manage to swipe some bites from my friends' dishes once I was through with my own. For me, it was between the "Ranchers Benny," an eggs benedict with fried green tomatoes, boursin cheese, roasted corn salsa, roasted poblano sauce and hollandaise; the chili omelet with brisket chili, aged cheddar, green onions, and tortilla chips; or the breakfast tacos with scrambled eggs, pork belly, pico de gallo, and queso fresco. You get the idea.
I opted for the Ranchers Benny and asked for my eggs poached hard because you know, yellow goo. I get benedicts all the time and always ask for this, but this was the first time my meal actually came out with two hard-boiled eggs on top. I wasn't a fan of this little shortcut and/or misunderstanding, but the meal was still delicious, and I can't wait to go back (next weekend with another set of friends, in fact).
Here's a small sampling of everything my friends and I ate, and yes, that is a breakfast burger sandwiched between two waffles, and yes, when it came out, I loudly said "HOLY SHIT."
And honestly, one of these days I am going to have to go just for dessert -- a homemade peanut butter cup, a red velvet waffle ice cream sandwich, a goat cheese and raspberry cheesecake, coffee and chocolate creme brulee! I mean...
*By "free bacon" I mean undying love and gratitude. Probably some good karma too.