Good Food, Roadhouse

Photo Recap: The Roadhouse’s First Ever Special Brunch Gave Us a Taste of Ireland

We’ve hosted many special dinners (over 200, actually) at Zingerman’s Roadhouse, but amazingly, we just held our first ever special brunch last month—and we traveled all the way to Ireland for inspiration. Seriously!

It all started back in 2013 when our Catering Manager, Caitlin Doyle, won a staff scholarship to study at Ballymaloe Cookery School in Ireland (pronounced “ballee-mah-loo”). World renowned for its Slow Food philosophy and first-class culinary education as well as a dedication to sustainable, organic farming, the school welcomed Caitlin as an intern for a three-month program.

Caitlin hadn’t done much cooking in a professional kitchen when she was offered the opportunity—and, as the manager of the Roadhouse at the time, she didn’t think she could carve out the time, either—but, with the support of everyone at the restaurant, she decided to go for it.

“I honestly didn’t know what to expect,” says Caitlin. “I didn’t have much time to think about it or do much research. Looking back, I probably should have, but I hit the ground running.”

Caitlin began working in the kitchen the day after she arrived. “The first couple days were pretty difficult,” she explains. “I think they were expecting someone with much more experience, but I put my head down and did what I was told. I learned a lot. The first couple of days was a lot of prep, and then we hosted a big breakfast for all the incoming students.”

Memories of that big breakfast and others during her internship, Caitlin says, were a big inspiration for the Irish Brunch. She’d already collaborated with Chef Alex Young for a Balleymaloe-inspired dinner upon her return, and she’d been wanting to do a brunch for over a year. The Cookery School takes great pride in their morning menu, transforming the lackluster continental breakfasts that Ireland is known for into a truly great meal that includes handmade breads and jams, poached fruit, and hearty, nutritious grains—Caitlin wanted to re-create that.

Boxty was served topped with smoked salmon and crème fraîche

The menu for the Roadhouse’s Taste of Ireland included Irish breads (making the bread in the early morning hours was one of Caitlin’s fondest memories at Ballymaloe), a porridge flight, and the latke-like boxty topped with smoked salmon and crème fraîche. There was also a fantastic buffet that featured Irish bacon and sausage, Cornman Farm’s lamb stew, fish pie made from a recipe by Chef Alex’s mother, Dublin coddler and more.

“It was really hard to pare down the menu, for sure. I probably had a list of 50 things I wanted to do,” Caitlin says with a laugh, adding that she pored over Ari and Alex’s Irish cookbooks during the planning stage. “With a little bit of time, I was able to find a good mix of dishes and a good mix of tastes.”

We couldn’t agree more, and our guests really loved it, too, many counting the boxty and fish pie among their favorite dishes. When asked if she would like to make the Irish Brunch an annual thing, Caitlin (very wisely) wouldn’t make any promises.

“We’ll see!” she said.

Fingers crossed, and in the meantime, here’s some photos from the event:

Ari with Caitlin, who work a traditional uniform for the occasion. (Photo by Keely Grace)

Spotted dog with currants and raisins

Irish butter, of course.

Irish Oats Three Ways: unsalted, salted and fermented, served with poached pears and plums

(Photo by Keely Grace)

(Photo by Keely Grace)

(Photo by Keely Grace)

Irish sausage

Chef Alex scrambled farm-fresh eggs on the spot!

Roadhouse staff makes all our special dinner (and brunches) possible.

Bakehouse Lemon Meringue Pie