Salem Food Digest: Sunday Brunch - The Village Tavern Enters the Fray

A jazzy brunch effort brings a new player on the Salem brunch scene

By The BaldOne


Brunch as defined by the Salem Food Digest is, "a late morning to mid-afternoon meal offering both breakfast and lunch type offerings. It may include either buffet or menu style service and MUST include a full cocktail bar."

The full cocktail bar requirement eliminates many of the regular breakfast joints in Salem. That does not mean that we discount their efforts, but for purposes of brunch we require the ability to serve a Bloody Mary or a Mimosa.

Recently twelve of us ventured to The Village Tavern at 168 Essex Street, which is on the pedestrian mall behind the big fountain that is known to sometimes have actual water in it. The Ingemi family, a long time Salem restaurant staple, think of the Beef & Oyster, Hared's, Texas Red's, and City Side Pool, have been running this business from inception.

The first ever brunch at the Village Tavern was just a few weeks back. We invaded their space during the third Sunday of this omelet and oyster adventure.

Taking up space in the small dining room, except for the California Lovers who sat at the bar we wasted no time in exploring out options. Some of us were presented with a lunch style menu, and some of us were not.

Most of chose to fill out omelet cards which we then brought to the chefs station. I thought we were supposed to give them to James the waiter. If that was true the chef didn't know and he took our cards and began cracking eggs.

Menu items were available but the chafing pans beckoned and we all approached them with anticipation. There was house made sausage and biscuits, one fried potatoes, hash browns with sausage, eggs benedict, bacon, and a banger type of sausage available.

The omelet station was a bit of a challenge. A few of us had our omelets come out quickly, some others had to go up and ask when their omelets would be coming. One or two were made incorrectly, but amends were made quickly. Overall the omelets themselves were a great hit, stuffed generously and cooked properly.

The lovely Jacqui commented that the "waffle was great" but that there are a few issues to be worked out with keeping the food warm and fresh." Jean was in agreement finding the eggs benedict to be a bit less than warm.

Jean, she of the broken sidewalk can be a bit tough, but she has plans to go back sometime soon

Beth's Beau was quite impressed with his omelet, but felt that the ordering system need a bit of tweaking. He would have liked for the sausage gravy to have a "bit of a kick". He is also planning on a return trip.

The Bloody Mary's impressed all around. The mix is made in house and they have a good selection of vodkas. Yours truly is a bit of a bloody snob and found that they quite strong, I prefer a more balanced bloody in order to explore the base, but would never complain of a strong drink.

As we were eating the buffet crew fell behind in keeping the stations filled. It was good to see that Arthur Ingemi, the "Bull of the Woods" at Tavern,  step right up and pitch in by changing chafing trays and checking on the omelet process. He introduced some scrambled eggs to the mix which was a good move.

Overall what we saw was a new concept being introduced and a staff learning how to handle the challenges. The music added to the experience, brunch and jazz after all goes together like ham and eggs.

We'll be back Village Tavern, but you won't know when. That Sunday night prime rib has gotten our attention.