The Mad Hatter Boasts Insane Flavor
By Christopher Malone
Alice and her wonderland created by Lewis Carroll is often better imagined through the literature than seen on a screen.
But what about a menu? Menus have words after all.
The Mad Hatter Restaurant & Bakery, located in Rochester at 176 S.
Goodman St., has an imagination itself. The menu did coax a visit out of me.
The first thing you see when you step into this former house renovated into a restaurant is the display of plentiful baked goods organized on the counter. Just like Alice, upon seeing Hatter’s spread at his mad-tea party, my jaw dropped to the ground. By the looks of things, my decision to give this place a try was validated.
The Mad Hatter also offers high tea almost daily. From Tuesdays through Friday, it’s at 1 p.m., and 3 p.m. on Saturdays. Reservations are required.
I was seated immediately but it’s probably wise to call ahead and reserve a spot. There is a fair amount of space but not too many tables — maybe, maybe not due to the ongoing pandemic.
Kayleigh greeted with a smile and asked if I had dined at The Mad Hatter before, and welcomed me. Her consistency and friendliness didn’t falter with every person who came in. And the dining area filled up pretty quickly around lunch. She was very helpful talking about the menu, the specials and that they specialized in eggs Benedict.
So how could I not?
I ordered the duchess Benedict and upgraded a standard English muffin for their homemade cheddar cheese biscuit ($14.50). The poached eggs sat on top of a Guinness-infused banger that rested on the soft, cheesy biscuit.
Totally worth the 50-cent upcharge. Everything came together wonderfully.
Even if your style of egg isn’t poached, it’s well worth a try. After cutting down into the Benedict, the golden yolk oozed out. It was a nice, rich flavor overall with the Hollandaise sauce to boot.
This definitely attested to the restaurants pride and joy.
The duchess Benedict came with roasted red potatoes, which I didn’t have doctored up due to the eggs-pectation of the sauce, a runny yolk, and opportunity for an incredibly bad food pun. The potatoes were roasted well and had a pinch of salt. The salt was so subtle but it went a long way.
The Park brunch bowl ($12) was a hearty, healthy treat for breakfast.
Because of how it was presented, I’d hate to see it confined to a to-go container even though it would travel just fine that way. The steel cut oats were served with banana slices, homemade granola, drizzled peanut butter and honey. The warm brunch bowl was heavenly and just enough to kickstart any given day or while on the go, any time of year.
After having peach-stuffed French toast from a diner in the Thousand Islands, it’s hard to say no when it’s on a menu. The price tag ($13.50) may look intimidating but the serving size is huge — three slices of toast with cream cheese filling, peach slices, and coated with brown sugar syrup.
It’s sweet but not as sweet as it sounds. I’ve never had challah bread French toast either. The soft, braided Jewish bread was cut into thick slices and, as stated, triple-stacked. It’s the only breakfast item I had to take leftovers for.
It’s a lot for one person, so definitely share with whomever you’re out with.
For takeaway, I opted for two sandwiches: the grilled Portobello mushroom sandwich with a side salad ($13) and the brie and pear panini with fresh fruit on the side ($13).
The grilled mushroom sandwich is served with roasted reds and greens in between homemade focaccia bread. The ingredients couldn’t be any fresher and the bread was light, herby, and incredibly flavorful. The side salad, albeit “side size” is comprised mostly of fresh greens. Which is simply satisfying to me.
The lightly grilled brie and pear panini stepped away from ciabatta and opted for sourdough. So, yes, it looked like a golden, crispy grilled cheese sandwich and tasted like one as well. However, pears and brie are a stellar combination if you’ve had them together as part of charcuterie. It’s an adult grilled cheese for sure.
Being mindful of my pregnant wife, I was “that customer” asking a question that needed research — is the brie pasteurized? And Kayleigh pleasantly found out that it wasn’t. A huge thank you to her for going out of the way during a busy lunch rush.
Before tip, the bill came to $71. Breakfast alone would have been $40.
The Mad Hatter revealed itself to be a great spot for a great homemade, comforting, and belly-filling meal.
The Mad Hatter Restaurant & Bakery
176 S. Goodman St.
Rochester, NY 14607
585-545-4985 | madhatterrestaurantandbakery.com
Tues. – Sat.: 8 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.