Read my review of Highline’s lunch and dinner menus here.
Highline, the contemporary American restaurant by chefs Anna Bautista and Jean Jorgensen, has rolled out their long-awaited brunch menu, running the gamut from Southern comfort food to hippie Cali fare. The food is just as indulgent as the brunch offerings at Al’s Diner, another Bautista-Jorgensen concept, but the rough edges at Al’s Diner are refined at Highline and given a modern twist.
Separated into To Share, Healthy Treats, Eggs, Mains, and Sugar, the menu bears over two dozen options, perfect for brunching with a crowd.
From the To Share section, a crowd-pleaser is the Arctic shrimp deviled egg dip, the rich, smooth egg yolk dip covered with refreshingly cold shrimps and briny flecks of flying fish roe. Another standout is the vigorous tuna and avocado toast, with a strong kick of wasabi softened by the rich soft-boiled egg, and a scattering of fried shallots supplying some crunch.
Arctic shrimp deviled egg dip (98)
Spicy tuna and avocado toast (128)
Eggs are a brunch staple, and Highline offers a decent variety without falling back to anything so pedestrian as a plain old egg Benedict. “Taking care of biscuits” practically screams Southern comfort food, the sweet, crumbly biscuits heaped with spicy, smoky pork jowl – fat rendered to a seductive crisp – before being topped with poached eggs and finally smothered in hollandaise. Curls of braised kale replace the traditional collard greens, giving the dish a modern touch.
Taking care of biscuits (98)
Egg Benedict is not actually off the menu, but fancied up with a hulking crab cake, an extremely generous serving of sweet crab meat fried to a greaseless crunch, and with a béarnaise spiked with tomatoes in place of the usual hollandaise. This golden creation is accompanied by vibrant stems of asparagus, a crunchy fennel salad, and some creamy avocado mash.
Crab cake Benedict (128)
The open face omelet is a healthier, if less memorable, choice. Delightfully soft and fluffy, the omelet is spread with a vibrant array of peas, fava beans, asparagus, zucchini, and gently roasted tomatoes, and sprinkled with a crumble of tangy feta.
Open-face omelet (88)
The Mains section offers heartier options, including sandwiches, burgers, Highline’s famed chicken & waffle – a favorite from their dinner menu – as well as a crispy potato hash waffle, topped with smoked salmon, salmon roe, and dollops of sour cream, and livened up with crunchy radishes and cucumber.
Smoked salmon and potato hash waffle (108)
For sweet endings, go for the sticky toffee bun, a giant, sticky mess of a cinnamon roll topped with candied pecans and dates, and brightened with some orange cream cheese – this is a textbook case of guilty pleasure. The toasted banana bread is also endlessly decadent, a thick slice of moist, dense banana bread spiced up with cardamom and drizzled with a generous amount of caramel, served with caramelized bananas and a tangy, slightly salty whipped mascarpone cream.
Sticky toffee bun (68)
Toasted banana bread (58)
The mango chia seed parfait makes a lighter finale. This beautiful dessert is sweet with mango and fragrant with coconut milk, with texture supplied by some coconut crisps on top.
Mango chia seed parfait (58)
Highline’s brunch is vibrant and energetic without seeming frantic or forced. Chef Bautista and Chef Jorgensen sure know how to chase away the kind of monotony common to many brunch menus in Shanghai, but the thing is, they also know when to stop.
Photo credit: Highline