This weekend felt like a good opportunity for some decadent Sunday brunch. I was searching for something more interesting than my usual haunts and something with more than just basic pancakes and waffles on the menu when I happened to stumble on the menu for Innovo Kitchen in Latham. A few items immediately caught my eye, like a nutella french toast with heath bar crumbles and lots of dishes with poached eggs (the best kind of egg), including a pastrami eggs benedict and a pork belly cassoulet. So we headed over to Latham to check out this little gem tacked on the end of a modern strip mall on Troy Schenectady Road.
I tend to be more of a “just out rolled out of bed” brunch-goer, and Innovo was a touch classier than I expected (there were people in suits)! But it was actually enough of a mixed crowd that I didn’t feel uncomfortable, and the patio seating offered a nice casual ambiance. Worth nothing that the patio just looks out at the parking lot and the shell of an unfinished building. But it still felt nice with a little bit of a breeze and some very effective space heaters radiating warmth.
Part of this restaurant’s efforts to be unique are creative starters like hot dogs or a house-made pop-tart of the day. I don’t usually go for that kind of thing at brunch (more important to immediately maximize my coffee and mimosa intake), but it just so happens that my lovely brunch date has always been a pop-tart fan. So we got over our initial reaction to the $7 price tag and just went for it.
The pop-tart was actually pretty good, despite our sticker shock. The pastry shell was dense and only slightly sweet, and the raspberry jelly filling was bright with real fruit flavors.
For our meals, we went savory: a carne asada bialy with eggs, cheddar, and an avocado aioli; and a plate of corned beef hash with poached eggs and mustard hollandaise.
The bialy egg sandwich was good, although a bit messy and hard to eat. The bialy itself was cheddar and onion flavored, with a very crisp outer shell. The slices of hangar steak (hiding in the picture, but definitely present) were nicely seasoned, but a bit thin. At a whopping $17, this sandwich could have used a little more filling.
The side of “potatoes o’brien casserole” was slightly disappointing as well. Shreds of potato were baked in a creamy sauce that lacked much flavor beyond gluey cream. But I loved the unexpected little pickle slices on the side, which seemed house-made and had a sweetness that reminded me of fresh pickled vegetables from my childhood garden.
The highlight of the meal was the plate of corned beef hash. This was incredible – possibly the best hash that I’ve had in the region.
A hearty mound of corned beef hash was piled in the center of the plate, rich with salty chunks of meat along with onions and shreds of potato. The edges were crispy for a nice added touch. And the poached eggs were lightly done, allowing plenty of golden yolk to spill into the rest of plate. The hollandaise was studded with mustard seeds that added just the right amount of punch to the sauce.
The prices were on the high side as far as Capital District brunches go, but the menu was creative and well-executed. The entire experience had little classy garnishes, like the chunks of dark chocolate with almonds and cranberries that were handed out with the check. Service was quick and friendly, and there were plenty of seats both inside and on the patio even at peak brunch time. Overall, we left pretty impressed with the offerings at Innovo Kitchen, and will likely be back the next time we’re looking for a slightly upscale brunch experience.