With its dark, modern, colorful, psychedelic and nightclub-ish aesthetic, Ardiente, at first glance, looks more like a place you would end your weekend evening instead of starting your day.
Hey, maybe some of you roll into brunch with a tad of a hangover, or in the midst of a walk of shame, and too much daylight in that fragile but hungry state isn’t your thing. We get it. We’re not here to judge … too much.
Regardless, trust us. Once the plates land on the table, you’ll forget there’s a TV screen with a belly dancer on endless B&W loop gawking at you seductively, and you’ll relax, find your groove and have a new go-to brunch spot.
The restaurant, at 33 S. Second St., that specializes in Asian Latin fusion recently stepped up its game with a weekend brunch menu that blends the familiar with the exotic. The effects are spectacular, to say the least.
The chicken tinga dumplings ($10) were delicate and delicious, veering in a more Asian direction than Latin. A more convincing meet of the cultures was the Ardiente empanadas ($12), which were perfectly crisp and hot on the outside while somehow remaining silky and cool in consistency on the inside. The juxtaposition of temperatures, textures and flavors was extraordinary and hard to resist.
The entrées had a look of style and substance, as well. The huevos rancheros ($20) were all Latin swagger and charm with fresh tasting black beans, and vibrant salsa and avocado, brightening up the dish. Latin and Asian influences met up again with amazing results in the chorizo congee ($19), a rich, savory stew brimming with spicy house-made chorizo, and a perfect over-easy fried egg adding lusciousness to the comfort dish.
Cocktails are another afternoon delight that (if you swing that way) you must make a part of your brunch ritual. The Kir Royal ($10) was refreshing and pleasing to the palate, while the Diablo ($9) was a bracing and citrusy kick to the senses.
It may look and feel like a place that would make one want to stay up until last call, but Ardiente definitely has the kind of brunch menu that will inspire you to get up early on the days when you would normally sleep in.
If you go:
33 S. Second St.
Sun. brunch 11 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Mon.-Fri. 5 p.m.- midnight
Sat. brunch 11 a.m.-2 p.m. - closes at 2 a.m.