First Look: Rising Son

Avondale Estates has a new breakfast joint

Last year Hudson Rouse and his wife Kathryn Fitzgerald Rouse put a family to-do list up on their refrigerator. It wasn't the kind of list you'd find in most couples' houses, but it makes perfect sense for the Rouses, whose lives seem deeply rooted in the bounty of the earth. Item one, he told me by email, was to clear farm equipment off the driveway. Item two concerned a flower garden. Item three was to look into building a house on their farm property. And item four was simply, "open a restaurant."

On March 29, the Rouses were able to cross item four off the list (no update yet on the farm equipment in the driveway), as Rising Son opened in the heart of Avondale Estates. The space formerly housed the Bishop, which closed in November 2015 and provided a perfect turnkey opportunity for the Rouses to launch their restaurant. Rising Son was announced in mid-February and opened a mere six weeks later after a buildout that basically involved hanging some paintings (by local artist Joy Phrasavath) on the walls to update the Bishop's look.

Rising Son is the Rouses' take on the traditional Southern breakfast and lunch joint with a robust affinity for local vegetables. Hudson calls it "real food for real people." You'll notice some similarities to the comfort food menu of Reynoldstown fave Home Grown where Hudson served as chef from spring 2014 until this January. But Rising Son adds several layers to that successful formula — most notably a prominent beverage program, led by Kathryn, that includes her signature seasonal house-made sodas, mostly local craft beers on tap, even a couple of wines by the glass and some clever but simple cocktails.

At breakfast, which is served until closing time, there are the typical staples like eggs, bacon, and biscuits, but also less-typical options like a vegan grit bowl with herb gravy ($10), or fried trout served with cheese grits and two eggs ($14). Rising Son even gets just a touch fusion-y with dishes like the fried pork dumplings ($5), using Riverview Farms pork sausage and served in a saucer with soy maple syrup strewn with cilantro and chopped green onion.

The Angus — named after Octopus Bar chef Angus Brown — includes two griddled pork chops, two scrambled eggs with cheese, a bowl of cheese grits, a biscuit, and a grape soda (thank Brown for the idea), all for $14. Rising Son sources everything it can from local farm friends of the Rouses — all the eggs from Darby Farms, all the pork and grits from Riverview Farms, and veggies from Furrowed Earth Farm, SoulFood Family Farm, and several others.

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Once lunchtime hits, the menu shifts toward a meat-and-three approach, with all the meat offerings having options of being grilled or fried. On my visits, the choices included trout, shrimp, pork chops, boneless chicken breasts, and hamburger steak. You can go with just one side for $10.95, or add $2 for each additional side, choosing from a long, ever-changing list of fresh, local veggies with subtle preparations like crisp radishes chopped and sautéed in butter, a well-spiced curry sweet potato salad with raisins (one of Kathryn's recipes), or intensely vinegary turnips cooked with the greens (but served alone).

It's not just meat and three, as Rising Son keeps veggie seekers happy with a plentiful quinoa-based grain bowl, loaded with simple vegetables like delicate broccolini and plump spring peas, plentiful herbs sprinkled all over, and circled by a thick pour of vegan herb gravy (made with cornstarch as a thickener, in a way reminiscent of Chinese stir-fry sauces). It's enough to feed two, for $8. Other options include a simple avocado chicken salad on rye toast, or an equally simple cheeseburger. Any which way, you'll be remiss if you skip Kathryn's house sodas. I enjoyed a refreshingly floral concoction of wisteria, lemon, and cardamom ($3.50), garnished with a slice of lime and a leaf of lemon balm.

On a recent weekday, Rising Son was packed at lunchtime, filled with the melting pot of types that populate Avondale Estates — senior couples out for a leisurely meal, families with young children trying to maintain the peace, hipstery twenty-somethings with tattoos as bright as the art on the walls. It seemed like everyone was perfectly comfortable digging in to the comfort food at the Rouses' Rising Son. Now if the Rouses could just do something about the farm equipment in their driveway.

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