Brunch: Hook & Ladder

Has there ever been a more ubiquitous punctuation mark in business names than the ampersand (aside from the exclamation point in Seinfeld’s “Top of the Muffin to You!” of course)? Even just a cursory look at Sacramento businesses, and it’s easy to see how the ampersand has made its *mark*: Fox & Goose, Hooks & Stone, Scarlett & Grace, Mulvaney’s B & L, etc. No stranger to being in the in-crowd, Hook & Ladder serves up the (implied) ampersand — the one that joins breakfast & lunch — in the English language’s favorite portmanteau: brunch.

That ampersand is small but mighty; it can join together two seemingly incongruous elements.  You can dine on the patios in sun & shade. If eating on one of two said patios, you’ll be eating off of a white tablecloth & be served by lovely ladies and gents in flannel shirts and jeans. You’ll be at a place owned by the same folks as the Golden Bear & not see a DJ booth in sight (nor — except for big events, when they expose the hidden flatscreens — TVs). You’ll be eating off of upcycled wood, waiting in reclaimed courtroom seats, or grabbing a drink at a repurposed game board that now serves as a table & you’ll be eating incredibly ingredient-driven, thoughtful fare. Either way, you’ll be enjoying yourself & you can quote us on that.

When we stopped by for brunch, after enjoying the amuse bouche that descends on each table, we ordered the Breakfast Pizza, Breakfast Pozole, and Duck Confit Hash, and to wash it all down, the Bloody Mary & the Weekly Brunch Punch.hookandladder_0022 hookandladder_0012 Head chef Brian Mizner’s culinary background surfaces throughout the menu: his taco-loving time in San Diego informs the latin flavors infused throughout, his time slinging dough at Hot Italian shines through in his pizza-baking prowess, and his start at the now defunct Masque explains his panache for composing multiple elements — dollops, sauces, and spice — on one plate.

How does one marry some of breakfast’s best — eggs, meat, cheese, vegetables and some heat — in one spot? In a pizza, of course, the Breakfast Pizza ($15). Roasted potatoes, bacon, red onion, broccolini, and calabrian chiles grace the crust, all topped off with two eggs sunny-side-up. It comes in 8 slices, but we’ll understand if you don’t want to share.

We’ve seen characters in movies say “humina humina” when their eyes find something they like. You’ll be saying the breakfast version, “hominy hominy,” when you try the Breakfast Pozole Rojo ($13). Pozole is a traditional Mexican soup anchored by hominy and pork, and Hook & Ladder’s is muy bien. Garnished with lime, guacamole, radishes, red onion, and jalapeno, you’ll wonder why you haven’t eaten soup for breakfast before. If you’re still iffy on the, “is this really breakfast?” front, maybe the two poached eggs on top will help convince you. hookandladder_0010 hookandladder_0021hookandladder_0018If you’re looking for another composed bowl, try the Duck Confit Hash ($15). The melty, almost caramelized red onions and bell peppers act as a perfect complement to the earthiness of the sweet potatoes and rainbow chard. Topped with chipotle hollandaise for a kick, and braised duck, the only thing you need to do is break the poached eggs, assemble a bit of everything on your fork and you’ll be…hooked.

Having tended some of Sacramento’s finest bars, and having won multiple competitions, it’s no wonder that Beverage Director Chris Tucker’s Bloody Mary ($9) at Hook & Ladder is one of the best in town. Just be prepared to get muddy. Muddy in the figurative sense, that is. Every Friday before the weekend rush, Tucker and his team start with a “mud” comprised of spices and tomato juice, citrus and Worcestershire sauce. The use of this mud approach lends a heartiness to Hook and Ladder’s Bloody Mary — an exercise in balance between the umami of the tomatoes, the hot sauce and spices, and the acidity from the lemon. Arguably one of the best parts of a Bloody Mary is the garnishes, and Hook & Ladder doesn’t skimp. Pickles, cauliflower, olives and crisp green beans have all been known to top the drink, and soon enough, said pickles will be made from bartender Brian Bothwell’s own garden! Need more bacon in your life? The Pepper-Bacon Bloody Mary ($11) uses the same recipe, but uses pepper-infused vodka and adds a garnish of bacon!

The Weekly Brunch Punch ($8) rotates — as one might have guessed — weekly. Punches tend to be rum- or vodka-based to keep things relatively neutral and refreshing. When we went, we enjoyed a vodka-lemon-honey-orange bitters-jamaica syrup (dried hibiscus) concoction, but they’ve been known to whip up combinations of rum, caramelized pineapple, vanilla bean, lemon, and soda water, or a good old-fashioned Michelada rimmed with Tajin. Either way, a Sunday Funday or Saturday Hat-urday (is that a thing? We should make that a thing. Grab yourself a hat) is on the horizon.hookandladder_0001 hookandladder_0006

The Basics:

Hours: Saturday & Sunday (10:00am-2:30pm)
Location: 1630 S St. Sacramento
Indoor/outdoor seating (heat lamps used during cold weather)

Sun and shade available
Bike racks available

Scout Tips:
  • The rush usually runs from around 11-1.
  • Check out @hook_and_ladder on Instagram to see if you can’t figure out what the weekly brunch punch is before you go.


Photos | Susan Yee