On Sunday, the self-titled Lantern Brunch Squad headed to Forno Kitchen + Bar, located at 721 N. High St. The trendy restaurant is known for its happy hour deals and contemporary cuisine on the dinner and weekend brunch menus.
To make this fair, we all opted to pick a different menu item and one brunch entree we agreed to share, but we all ended up trying everything and picking our favorites.
Everything we tried: Breakfast Pizza ($14), French Toast ($11), Mimosas Bottle Service ($20), Biscuits + Gravy ($11), Spiked Strawberries ($15), Avocado Bruschetta ($9)
Kaylin’s Pick: Breakfast Pizza ($14) and Mimosas
To preface my review, I must say I am a habitual bruncher. However, I am usually a diner-style girl, opting for greasy hash browns, cheesy eggs and stale coffee. Forno is the opposite of that, situated in the Short North with a trendy vibe and contemporary style, but with reasonably priced options ranging from $10 to $16. When we arrived at Forno, we were sat immediately thanks to a 12:45 p.m. reservation, which I highly recommend because it gets busy.
With so many delicious-sounding options, I eventually settled on the breakfast pizza — wow. The pizza had four eggs (which were slightly runny), crispy brussel sprouts, melty fontina cheese and bits of pancetta. The dough — made in-house every day — was cooked to perfection in the restaurant’s custom stone-fired oven and was crispy, yet soft on the inside. While most places have a basic breakfast pizza with cheddar cheese, scrambled eggs and sausage, Forno has found a way to make an original, flavorful pizza with creative ingredients. Even after trying three other (great) options, the breakfast pizza was the clear winner for me.
It would be wrong not to include the mimosa bottle service as an honorable mention. The service includes a chilled bucket with a bottle of champagne and orange juice brought straight to the table for only $20. This was perfect for me because I could fill my glass as frequently as I wanted. It was refreshing, and well worth the money giving us nine mimosas total — saving us $16 collectively versus if we had paid per glass.
Chase’s Pick: Biscuits + Gravy ($11) and Mimosas
Unlike Kaylin and Sydney, I’m not a habitual bruncher, but I was born and raised in the South, so comfort food combos such as chicken and waffles, biscuits and gravy and shrimp and grits are right up my alley.
With that being said, getting this kind of food from somewhere in the Midwest had me skeptical, but I’m happy to say that Forno impressed me. The biscuit was the perfect size and taste — not too small, but still full of flavor, and just flaky enough to melt in your mouth. I’m usually not a fan of fried eggs, but the one placed underneath the biscuit was perfect. The yolk was slightly runny but not cooked too hard, and it was perfectly seasoned with pepper and scallions. And the sausage — I take my breakfast meats very seriously, but sausage is the top choice for me, and if you cook it the wrong way, I’ll notice immediately.
But again, Forno exceeded expectations.
The sausage was cooked to perfection and it complemented the gravy beautifully. All in all, this was a top 3 all-time biscuits-and-gravy experience for me, and the mimosas were fire. It’s safe to say we all left the Short North very satisfied.
Sydney’s Pick: Everything and spiked strawberry shots ($15)
I never had Forno brunch before. It’s usually booked up far in advance and people like to camp out once they get there due to the fabulous mimosa deals. Kaylin, Chase and I were lucky enough to get a reservation. The atmosphere was classy and I felt fancy and important in this upscale eatery. Needless to say, we balled out.
Now, before I go any further, you must know: Breakfast food is my favorite genre of food. I love all of it at any time. Day or night, put it on my plate and I‘ll eat it — except grits, grits are gross. Although it’s not breakfast, brunch holds a special place in my heart for two reasons: It has all the same meals as breakfast and it allows me to sleep in.
That being said, it’s impossible for me to decide what my absolute favorite dish was. The three of us split a breakfast pizza, biscuits and gravy, avocado bruschetta and French toast. How do people expect me to choose? The brioche made for the perfect French toast, the syrup was heavenly and the fruit on top was fresh. The biscuits were fluffy, the sunny-side-up egg was a sight to behold and the gravy took me on a spiritual journey. The pizza was an explosion of taste. The bruschetta was piled high with chunky and creamy avocado, the sprinkling of the goat cheese was divine and the pickled shallots and grape tomatoes added the perfect burst of flavor. I feel like I’d be betraying my favorite meal by singling out one specific dish. I don’t discriminate when it comes to brunch.
What I will single out, however, are the spiked strawberry shots. I’ve never experienced anything like them before. Five fresh, hollowed-out strawberries filled with vodka and Grand Marnier-spiked strawberry gel and topped with Galliano-liqueur whipped cream? It changed my life. If you decide to go to Forno brunch after reading this — and are of the legal drinking age — I cannot stress enough how phenomenal these are. You’d be doing yourself a disservice by passing them up.