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Eat Near: The wild brunch

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STOP, A WAFFLE: Course No. 4 at Mattison's Farm to Fork Sunday Brunch / COOPER LEVEY-BAKER

STOP, A WAFFLE: Course No. 4 at Mattison's Farm to Fork Sunday Brunch / COOPER LEVEY-BAKER

After three courses, I'm already well past full. But then our server brings over dish No. 4: a cylindrical nugget of fried chicken gently placed atop a small triangle of waffle and what tastes like blueberry crème. The whole thing is drenched in something called maple gravy, which tastes just as good as it sounds.

All of a sudden, I'm hungry again.

Today's decadent midday meal comes courtesy of Mattison's City Grille, once again offering its sumptuous Farm to Fork Sunday Brunch to discriminating locavores. The idea, now a few years old, is for Mattison's to put together a short tasting menu featuring the best products available within 50 miles of the restaurant.

To do so, Executive Chef Paul Mattison and City Grille Chef Gino Callejo teamed up with the Suncoast Food Alliance's John Matthews. Matthews in turn reached out to Sarasota CLUCK, because, hey, who doesn't want fresh backyard eggs for brunch? CLUCK members, dedicated to standing up for area residents' right to raise backyard chickens, donated eggs to the cause, and all proceeds will further the group's educational efforts.

Matthews put together some of the best products available this time of year, and Callejo "bounced ideas around" with Mattison. They eventually developed a four-part menu that runs the gamut of breakfast favorites. The meal started out with a plate of griddled grits nestled beneath a patty of sausage and a delicately poached CLUCK egg, then continued with a super-soft salmon mousse dotted with a teaspoon of Mote Marine caviar. Plate No. 3 featured a generous strip of sweet, fatty pork belly, a CLUCK egg sautéed to perfection and grilled asparagus that delivered a solid dose of smoke.

Mix all that with bottomless Bloody Mary refills, and I'm prepared to call it a day. But then that chicken, the coup de grâce, comes out. Wow.

Callejo has been at Mattison's since 2007, and today's brunch shows what he can do. Matthews says Callejo's staff is "committed" to him, and the quality of the food reflects that. "I really do enjoy working with him," Matthews says. "It takes somebody special."

Mattison's likes to source its food from the Suncoast as much as possible, says Callejo, and it's important for the restaurant to "help support our local farmers." The couple dozen bloated customers (me included) are paying up and trickling out, and everyone seems beyond satisfied. "We want to keep doing this as much as possible," says Callejo.

This is the 21st entry in Eat Near, a regular column dedicated to all the lovely food that folks on the Suncoast grow, raise, kill or craft. If you have an idea for someone/thing to feature, email me at eatnearsrq@gmail.com or hit me up on Twitter: @LeveyBaker.

Last modified: April 22, 2013
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