Southern food superstar raises the brunch bar really high

Any restaurant that wins my Restaurant of the Year award has to be an absolute stunner and Hot Suppa was indeed just that when they won my top honors in 2016. Much to my dismay, I hadn’t been back since that dinner, so when I wanted to return, I made sure I was ready for what I assumed would be a full hour wait and went for their Sunday brunch.

We arrived and made our way over to the world’s smallest host stand and put our names on the list to be seated. We were told the wait would be about 45 minutes, which in Portland eatery-speak often means 60-75 minutes. I was ready to wait it out anyway and we took a short walk, milled about, and sat while waiting to hear our names. After 45 minutes, we were called and brought to a table. I was pleasantly surprised.

The brunch menu consisted of a breakfast side and a lunch side. That nearly unmatched level of cleverness was only the beginning, however. What really buttered my bread was the menu’s selection. With oodles of items that screamed “EAT ME!”, reading the menu was practically a guilty pleasure. I supposed actually choosing something would be utterly joyful.

My wife started with a Mimosa which the menu stated was the perfect breakfast companion. I stuck with water and made a decision to avoid anything sweet. I had already eaten waffles and danish earlier in the day, after all. Mrs. Portlandeater was leaning toward a scramble while I was considering something sandwich-y. I liked the look of the Corned Beef Egg Sandwich – over-medium egg, gruyere, pickled red onion, spicy brown mustard, marble rye.

When it was finally time to place our orders, I decided to skip the sandwich and go full force into the hash, ordering the specialty Corned Beef Hash – shredded corned beef, potatoes, onions, and carrots, two eggs. I chose the eggs over hard, hashbrowns, and sourdough toast to go with it. My better half went with the Three Egg Scramble with caramelized onions, sauteed spinach and garlic, and tomatoes, choosing hashbrowns and cornbread as her sides.

As we waited for our food, the restaurant sat the last few customers and started to wind down for the day, but we had food in front of us in no time. Both plates were garnished with a fresh grapefruit slice and full of everything we asked for. I moved some food around and poured a little ketchup and sriracha on my plate for good luck.

I first went after the eggs. They were perfectly over hard. Then I slid over to the hashbrowns, hash, and toast, in that order. They were all crispy to the point that I was really impressed. In a world where I often complain that my food didn’t quite get get the full fry treatment, these were griddled every bit they needed to be.

The seasoning on the taters and hash was excellent. The latter seemed extra meaty with shredded beef and veggies added in just the right amounts. Occasionally, I added a little of the red sauces to my bites. I was a bit taken with it all and really appreciated what I felt was the uniqueness of the hash. The food made my mid-day bright and sunshiny despite the cool weather.

There was more than enough cornbread on my wife’s plate, so she gave a piece to me. The gluten-free triangle was awesome and brought back memories of the last time I was there. The flavor was sweet, but also deep and rich, not just a pure sweetness without something more to it. I finished that and we both finished the rest of our food.

Hot Suppa delivered another winner. Their brunch food was perfectly cooked, delivered as intended, and succeeded in every way. The star of my plate was the house made hash, but everything was prepared to spec and truly enjoyable. Our tab came to $33 before tax and tip and we both left happy which meant it was worth the price.

If you head over for brunch, the options are practically limitless. Among the choices are French toast, waffles, burgers, and eggs benedict. They’ve truly got something for all tastes. Their sprinkling of southern flair in Maine creates food that sounds great and eats even better. I challenge you to go to Hot Suppa any time of the day and not absolutely love it.

Stay hungry.

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Peter Blanchette

About Peter Blanchette

Peter Peter Portland Eater grew up in Lewiston, Maine and graduated from the University of Maine in Orono with a degree in English. After college, he left the state to work in Massachusetts, but the allure of a more comfortable life in his home state brought him back after eight years. Upon his return and after meeting his now wife – Mrs. Portlandeater, he slowly integrated himself into the Portland food scene by trying as many restaurants as he could afford. That and a desire to write for others again led him to start where he reviews restaurants and blogs about whatever Portland/Maine food topics he finds interesting.