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Depending on which home magazines you subscribe to, the French flea market trappings of Carmel’s darling brunch spot Eggshell Bistro (51 W. City Center Dr., Carmel, 317-660-1616) will give you either a serious case of decorator’s envy … or a petit headache. Larry Hanes, owner of the eatery in its first weeks of business in the brand-new Carmel City Center, has amassed an impressive collection of vintage flair, from the ’50s-era manual Italian espresso machine with a metal grill and wooden knobs to the antique cinnamon grinder at the coffee bar. And it all comes to roost in this sunny corner spot. Diners are seated in vintage blue and yellow metal Tolix chairs, at marble tables topped with Orangina bud vases. Even the banged-up institutional trash can and paper towel dispenser in the ladies room are covetable in a shabby chic kind of way.
None of which, however, should be written off as window dressing. Chef Jeremiah Clark’s menu is as meticulously executed as it is brief. A Chef’s Academy grad who has worked at The French Laundry and Bouchon Bistro as well as Taste Cafe and Marketplace, Clark elevates the brunch standards, all the while concentrating on locally sourced ingredients. His crisp sweet potato hash gets a spicy kick from chorizo and jalapeno, topped (of course) with a pair of delicate poached eggs. He loads a brioche with three Traders Point Creamery cheeses and mixes up an heirloom potato frittata with spinach and Capriole goat cheese. (And though we love the idea of a Chinese herbal tea egg beautifully crackled with the stain of star anise and flecked with fleur de sel, ours arrived heartbreakingly overcooked and gray of yolk. Quel dommage.) Dessert is a rotation of locally churned Lick ice creams. And the coffee comes from San Francisco’s Blue Bottle Coffee, Eggshell being one of just a few restaurants in the country to carry the brand. Apparently, that’s a very big deal.
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