Menu (brunch menu not online, pictured below the ratings)
With few minutes of menu perusal under our belts, we learned of three daily specials: a veggie omelette, a meaty omelette, and a spicy tomato-y poached egg special that sounded remarkably like the Egyptian style dish I had at Aziza's. I debated between the last special and the crabcake, but the server so effusively raved about the special (and Michele committed to the crabcake) that I went for it. I had some concern it was too much on the '-unch' side rather than the 'br-' side of brunch, but took the leap. It was a wise decision. The spice was present without being overwhelming (cumin, coriander, and cinnamon, I learned... the three Cs of deliciousness.) The eggs were very well cooked, and the spinach added a fresh texture and made an excellent raft for food-to-mouth delivery. I can't quite decide how it stacked up against Aziza's, but Michele looked jealous when she had a taste.
After we became sad we were full, we stuck around a bit longer to chat, have another drink, and hear the band. Unfortunately, once we started focusing on drinks we realized the coffee was not up to par with the rest of the meal. My first cup had a lot of grounds at the bottom of the mug (not Greek/Turkish style) and while the second cup was drinkable, further cups were truly awful. Bad coffee aside, everything else at The Camel was very enjoyable. So go Richmond, go to The Camel for brunch. You're welcome.
Michele: I’ve been to the Camel countless times to see music and drink super delicious beers. I have never eaten anything there. When I saw the poster up in the bar a few weeks ago advertising their Sunday brunch with a band, I became intrigued. To be completely honest, I did not have high expectations for our brunch at the Camel. I expected to have an ok meal, and then watch a cool local band. Well, I’m pleased to report that our brunch at the Camel this past week thoroughly exceeded my expectations.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen the inside of the Camel during the daytime. It’s kind of cool in there. The two booths up front are great for watching people inside at the bar and outside on Broad St. The Camel clearly has a set of regulars that like to sit up at the bar for brunch. Who can blame them? The Camel always has lots of delicious beers on tap. I imagine you could get a beer to drink with brunch, but they also have the standard brunch cocktails at pretty reasonable prices. In addition to my standard coffee and Bloody Mary, I ordered a plate of sausage stars from the appetizer menu. With Karisa as my only brunching partner this week, I had the entire plate to myself. The sausage stars consisted of ground sausage in a spicy sauce and whole green olives inside crispy little wonton cups. These little stars packed a spicy punch, and the wonton dough tasted a little sweet. I thoroughly enjoyed them. The Bloody Mary was quite tasty, too. I drank two of them, although I did have to add a dash of sriracha to my second drink.
After much hmming and hawing and asking our handsome waiter lots of questions, I ordered the crab cake with eggs over easy. The chef at the Camel makes the crab cakes with very little, if any, bread in there. Seriously, it is all crab, and it is huge. The potatoes were cleverly hidden underneath the two eggs. I got a little nervous when I saw the large potato chunks, but they were cooked thoroughly and tasted great. The Cajun remoulade on top of it all added some sass and moisture to the entire plate. The sauce was the exact same color as the perfectly runny egg yolks. It all mixed together into a creamy, rich dipping sauce for my potatoes and crab cake. I ended up taking home about half of the crab cake and four leftover sausage stars. I put the crab on a salad, heated up the sausage stars in the toaster oven, and had a great little dinner on Monday night.
After finishing our meal, Karisa and I stuck around for about an hour to listen to the brunch band. We had such a lovely Sunday afternoon. I will most certainly come back to the Camel on future Sundays. I would absolutely eat brunch here again, but I’m also pretty excited about making this place a regular Sunday Funday stop after brunch elsewhere.
Rating: 4Food - Very Good. We loved the food. Seriously loved it. Karisa's dish had the right amount of spice with flavors that melded together perfectly and Michele got sad she was full; always a sign of a good meal.
Service - Very Good. In a city with generally poor restaurant service, it's a breath of fresh dining air to have a really fantastic server. Ours was helpful with dish selection, quick, knowledgeable, and funny, with the perfect amount of table interaction.
Atmosphere - Good. Definitely a music hall, but one clearly committed to restaurant service. There's a divider between the venue section and the restaurant that's opened when the live music starts. Exposed brick in the main area, and upcycled items everywhere.
Coffee - Fair/Poor. The coffee was definitely the worst part of the meal. Karisa's first cup had a ton of grounds, but the second cup was better. All subsequent cups were barely drinkable and required significant doctoring (got to get that caffeine fix!)
Mimosa - Good. $4 for a pint and $12 for a pitcher... what can go wrong with Tropicana and cheap sparkly?
Bloody Mary - Good. Whole green olives for a garnish, celery seed and other coarse spices. Had to add a dash of sriracha to the second drink. At $5 apiece, it’s easy to keep track of your bar tab.