Local Tourist: Brunch at Ladda Bistro
I would like to play the part of ruthless, pop-quiz-crazed teacher for just a moment and ask you to define the word “portmanteau.” If you do not know the word portmanteau, I am betting that you know the meaning of the word “brunch.” Now let me play the part of mischievous classmate and let you read the answer written on the sweaty side of my hand. A portmanteau is a word made up of two words and their combined meaning, i.e. brunch.
In addition to the marriage of two crucial and otherwise separate meals, brunch is also a great excuse to sleep in until 11 a.m. and still consume enough calories for two meals at once. Talk about well-balanced. If you are in agreement with me about the splendor and ingenuity that is the portmanteau known as brunch, let me whet your appetite for something even stranger and equally as satisfying. The phenomenon that I am referring to is none other than Southern brunch at a Thai restaurant. Now there is no portmanteau to describe such a thing just yet, it does not roll off the tongue quite like brunch, but despite the fact that it is a mouthful, I assure you that it is a mouthful of exactly what you did not know you want.
If there were ever a day designed for brunch, for the innovation of eating late and the enabling of indecision between breakfast and lunch, that day would be Saturday. On Saturday morning, I wake up early, but not too early. I make my bed (a revolutionary act reserved for weekends), sit on top of the now smooth surface, stare at my dogs and they stare back. We sit there, blinking at one another, until I remember to put food into their bowls. They do not possess the patience required for brunch. While waiting on a friend, I make a large pot of coffee — ten cups, shooting for the stars! When she arrives, I pour us both a cup and we sit on my porch. One does not lurch towards brunch. Brunch is a leisurely affair.
After a few cups of coffee, we decide on a brunch spot and then head downtown. There are some excellent options, but none quite as enticing as Southern brunch at a Thai restaurant. Ladda Bistro is located on Cherry Street. It is small, but sophisticated — a very put-together hole-in-the-wall. It seems to scream “Thai food” and “Southern brunch” simultaneously, or perhaps that is my own tongue. We snag a parking space right out front. “Ooh, we can sit outside,” I say dreamily to my friend, beaming at the bistro tables on the sidewalk. I am buzzing with an over-the-top bliss reserved for good weather. Fall has started sniffing around, as if deciding whether or not it wants to curl up in Macon for a nap. We step inside briefly, informing the servers that our happy asses will be dining outside. I shoot a quick, judgmental glance at patrons sitting inside at a booth, breathing in the filtered air. Fools!
Back outside, we stare at our menus, suddenly paralyzed. We flip back and forth, back and forth, between Pad Thai Shrimp and Smoked Salmon Benedict, between Beef Noodle Soup and Crème Brulee French Toast. Although brunch resolves the great debate between breakfast or lunch, the possibility of Thai food causes our indecision to grow new legs. I walk the conversation towards something more certain. We are planning to head to the Rookery after brunch for Bloody Marys, but a tiny whiteboard propped up on the sidewalk throws a welcome wrench into that plan: “$15 Pitcher of Mimosa,” it says.
Deciding on drinks seems to help us focus, we have narrowed our choices down to either grits or curry, and then, as if our brunch fairy godmother suddenly appears before us, the decision finally becomes clear. She orders the Grits Bowl with Andouille sausage and cheddar cheese, I order the Chicken Red Curry, and we split them in two. It is a Southern brunch and Thai food victory. The curry is as good as I remember it — better, because it is barely noon and I am washing it down with Mimosa. The Grits Bowl makes for a perfect side.
We finish our food and then power through drinking an entire pitcher of Mimosa between two people. The only problem with brunch — and with Southern brunch at a Thai restaurant, for that matter — is the question of what to do next. A nap sounds pleasant, but not once you remember that you just woke up a few hours before. You will not be hungry again for a long time, so food is off the table, so to speak. You have just bathed your insides with a whole bottle of champagne and therefore do not need another drink. There is nothing left to do but bask in the brilliance of brunch. And maybe stop by the Golden Bough and pick up a copy of Merriam-Webster so you can learn fun, new words like portmanteau and such.