Ledlow reminds diners of the virtues of comfort food

With all of the new restaurants opening on Main Street, finding a stable eatery can be stressful. Though many of those locations offer a variety of delicious staples, the food selection tends to follow the same trends. Luckily, Ledlow, formerly known as Pete’s Café & Bar, brings the kick back to wholesome American food.

For those unfamiliar with the location, Ledlow was once the popular Pete’s. Though Pete’s will be missed, it certainly did need a more updated approach to maintain competitiveness in the Old Bank’s District. Exemplified by the number of trendy choices on Main Street, restaurants stay afloat by staying relevant. Chef Josef Centeno, who also owns other big name restaurants such as Bäco Mercat, Bar Amá and Orsa and Winston, took on the daunting challenge of shaping a distinct personality for Ledlow. So just how different is Ledlow from the rest of its family line?

First off, Ledlow offers various brunch, lunch and dinner options as it opens at 8 a.m. and closes late in the evening. Even though many restaurants avoid approaching savory foods for fear of coming off as too greasy or too heavy, Ledlow ambitiously spins classic American favorites and fuses them with influences from European-style food. It’s a place to pick up a delicious cup of Stumptown coffee along with some small pastries or a full, hearty meal for a big party. Along with the wall of liquor and spirits, it’s a perfect place for comfort food. There is an entire menu devoted to those who want a stronger drink with their meal.

The retro, yet modernly decorated restaurant provides a relaxing, upscale atmosphere on the corner of Main and East 4th streets.  Recently, the trend toward healthy alternatives has led to the erasure of more stomach-filling meals. There are foods that are good for the body and some that are good for the soul, and Ledlow provides both. This is not to say the menu lacks lighter alternatives; in fact it has plenty of vegetarian options. The dish “Healthy Breakfast” is a blend of egg whites, sauteed mushrooms, soy chorizo, greens and quinoa. Instead of being served separately on one dish, however, this left-field approach brought an unexpected savory taste that deliciously blended all the ingredients together to make a fluffy omelet-like dish.

Whereas many places offer the standard French toast, Ledlow has its own take on the breakfast staple. French toast has had the misfortune of being pushed to the side in favor of its fluffy cousin, pancakes. Many restaurants offer this common breakfast food but they often leave it dry, tasteless and tough. French toast wasn’t meant to taste like baked maple syrup, however; the syrup is only meant to compliment the bread, not moisturize and flavor it. Thankfully, Ledlow’s homemade,fluffy brioche absorbs all the richness from the huckleberry syrup and mixes well with the tartness of the blueberries. Along with the melted brown butter, Ledlow’s take on French toast is truly revolutionary and one of the best items on the menu.

The baked eggs en cocotte, a dish with tomato, beef and green chile, was surprisingly heavier than it seemed to be. This baked dish comes with a side of toasted rye bread to soak up the slightly overpowering flavors in the pan. This dark horse may be too much for someone hoping for a simple, plain brunch option. But it’s perfect for a brunch lover who wants a homey, medium dish that combines the size of a brunch with the taste of a lunch.

As for the pastries, the beignets are topped with granulated sugar, which is a spin on the usual powdered-sugar surface. Though this approach is not unique to Ledlow, it does give a crunchy and crispy texture that blends well with the rich chocolate inside. It’s too sweet and too big as a snack to go with coffee, however. If it were shrunken to about the size of their almond croissant, the combination would be perfect for an afternoon tea session. At the same time, the normal, chocolate-filled croissants are flaky and a definite improvement compared to what Pete’s used to offer. The almond croissant is also a tasty inclusion of a nutty flavor within crisp layers of pastry.

Oddly, other than a few simple choices such as oatmeal and granola, the menu doesn’t include very many breakfast options. Since the restaurant opens early in the morning, it would certainly benefit from a larger morning-food menu.

Ledlow provides quality comfort food that has been lost in the hurricane health craze. Though a lot of the dishes are very savory and rich, it’s a refreshing changed compared to the popular wave of light brunches. It’s definitely a place to stop by for something new and familiar or a trip just for old times’ sake.