What She’s Having is a new weekly column in which Globe food writers celebrate their local favorites.
Sometimes the best restaurant is the one that’s closest to home. If you’re lucky, it becomes your de facto canteen.
I’m lucky. For me that place is Redd’s in Rozzie, a neighborhood cornerstone run by chef Charlie Redd, with partners Antonio Reyes (sous chef) and Jose Vilorio (prep cook and dishwasher). It’s the kind of place that has weekly burger-and-bingo nights and shows movies (“Babette’s Feast”! “Road House”!) on a big screen in the courtyard. It’s also the kind of place where staffers are really great to kids, which is helpful if you happen to have them. It’s more than just the usual proffering of crayons and paper; they talk to their smaller customers like, well, smaller customers.
They’re really great to adults too, which is to say they make strong cocktails.
There’s dinner, sure — incorporating plenty of local ingredients, everything made in house. But brunch is the restaurant’s forte. In a town obsessed with eating late-morning eggs on Sundays, it flies under the radar.
“Brunch is much more to us than a single service for cash,” Redd writes in an e-mail. “Antonio, Jose, and I came up as egg cooks in the ranks and this service is a point of pride to us.”
The menu draws on brunch tradition, Redd’s North Carolina upbringing, Latin American cooking, and gut-busting, in-your-face whimsy. With embarrassing frequency, my husband, son, and I — often with assorted visiting friends and relatives in tow — show up on Sunday mornings. It’s become a ritual. Yes, the grown-ups definitely want coffee, which is actually decent here, and served in Redd’s collection of kitschy, mismatched vintage mugs. Also Bloody Marys. Yes, the kid definitely wants chocolate milk. His standing order is pancakes. (His standing order for all meals might be pancakes if we let him.) We, however, dither.
There’s no question we’ll split an excellent sticky bun, gooey and studded with nuts. But what about the eternal eggs vs. dough dilemma? The Farm House omelet with bacon, caramelized onions, and cheddar is a solid choice, and it means I can get a biscuit on the side. (Is this overkill with the sticky bun? Totally. Redd’s brunch is fluent in overkill.) Then there will be something like a breakfast empanada or huevos rancheros, and I have trouble resisting any meal that involves beans and hot sauce. Another complicating factor: Redd’s makes really good fried chicken, and at brunch it comes with waffles and chile-infused maple syrup — and an egg on top, because overkill. There’s always something extra-crazy, like a waffle torta, buttermilk waffles sandwiching a chicken cutlet, cheese, beans, avocado, and aji salsa (you can also add an egg and cheese). And then, just when you think you’ve decided, a server comes along and tells you there are specials like doughnuts stuffed with strawberry-lemon curd or an Allandale Farm fried green tomato eggs Benedict.
This is when my husband reminds me that he is still able to surprise me, by ordering something bonkers like breakfast poutine with pulled pork, and I secretly think, “You’re going to regret that,” and he never does.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter that much what we’re eating. It’s about sitting at a table together, sipping coffee and playing tic-tac-toe with blunt orange crayons on the paper kids’ menu, and feeling at home without having to cook or clean up. We run into neighbors. We joke with the staff. We order a second round of Bloody Marys, because we can. We live just around the corner, and there’s still enough Sunday left for a nap.
4257 Washington St., Roslindale, 617-325-1000, www.reddsinrozzie.comDevra First can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @devrafirst.