International spots offer alternatives to turkey.
In news that made Munch’s heart skip a beat — and might make it stop beating altogether — last week the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Dietary Advisory Committee announced that cholesterol would no longer be considered a “nutrient of concern” in the American diet.
This represents a paradigm shift in decades of thinking about the pesky lipid (for the record, saturated fats are still to be avoided, but just roll with me on this), and it cleared at least a temporary path for guilt-free enjoyment of the marvelous, LDL-laden indulgence that is “The Homestead” created by chef Steve Morehouse for the weekly brunch at Studio A.M. in, well, Homestead.
About that town namesake dish: House-made breakfast biscuits topped with sweet Italian sausage gravy and finished with a fried egg — a veritable crucible of cholesterol. Sausage gravy typically uses a breakfast sausage base and is so thick as to be gelatinous. This was comparatively lighter and with an outstanding depth of flavor.
Studio A.M. is among a handful of exciting new enterprises breathing life into the once-moribund East Eighth Avenue business district. A working art studio and marketing firm, it inhabits the space formerly occupied by Smoke BBQ Taqueria (which has since relocated to Lawrenceville). Billing themselves as “creative hustlers” the Studio A.M. cadre figured that since they had the kitchen space, they might as well use it.
They drafted Mr. Morehouse from his regular gig at Caffe Davio on the South Side, and since mid-December he’s put together a delicious Sunday brunch menu at a fantastic bargain.
A single note of legal tender depicting Andrew Jackson gives access to a buffet that during our visit included bacon, sausage, goat cheese and sun-dried tomato stuffed chicken, cheesy potatoes au gratin, green beans and mushrooms, fruit salad, coffee and juice and gourmet cupcakes (red velvet oreo with Kahlua and bourbon caramel vanilla) and muffins (strawberry or nutella) from baker Briana Jackson (a.k.a. ‘Baekwon Da Chef’ for the Wu-Tang fans out there) of Sweet Little Eats.
Already a spread large enough to rival that of a casino buffet, the meal also includes choice of a made-to-order item from a menu with selections like a western omelet, chocolate and banana pancakes made with fresh banana puree and shaved bittersweet chocolate, and the Breakfast Club (a turkey sandwich with a fried egg).
While I had to refrain from licking the plate of my “Homestead,” my girlfriend enjoyed her French toast, topped with a maple anglaise (cream) and a strawberry sauce.
The food, combined with the setting, hits nearly all of the senses. There is colorful artwork, antiques, handcrafted furniture and music from the O.D.B. to MGMT. Nontraditional seating — couches, stools, a bar and even antique stadium seats — made for a lot of fun interactions with other diners and fanned conversations.
Artist Baron Batch gave a live painting demonstration while one of his co-partners in Studio A.M., craftsman John Malecki, whose custom woodwork is on display throughout the studio, waited tables like a seasoned pro. If their names ring a bell, it may be because they were once employed by a certain local professional football franchise (hint: not the Passion).
But that is comfortably part of their prologue as they’ve transitioned to new careers and now on Sundays have traded in their playbooks for a menu card.
Studio A.M. is at 225 E. Eighth Ave., Homestead. Brunches are Sundays only from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Reservations are required. Email firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @StudioAMpgh.
Dan Gigler: email@example.com or Twitter @gigs412.