Easy Que’s lunch and dinner menu is already bangin’ with kalua pork, brisket and pork belly plates, meaty sandwiches and hearty sides. But the Kailua barbecue spot — sister restaurant to breakfast spot Over Easy — just took things to the next level with a new barbecue-centric brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
It’s a fine line, but owner Jen Lobendahn points out that despite the new brunch, Easy Que doesn't specialize in brunch. “Easy Que’s brunch menu features plated, composed dishes,” she says. “For example, you’ll find sous vide or scrambled eggs on our menu, but eggs here aren’t made to order. If you want made-to-order eggs, go to Over Easy.”
The restaurant hosted me and a few bloggers for a tasting of all five brunch entrées and the five alcoholic selections.
This was an eye-opener: Easy Que’s Bloody Mary includes Sriracha, some house pickles and onions and its signature Crack Seed barbecue sauce, a vinegar-based treatment with chili flakes and li hing mango. It gives this Bloody Mary some extra pucker power, if you know what I mean.
For something lighter and fruitier, get the mango mimosa ($9). It's a barbecue-friendly twist on Over Easy's lilikoi mimosa. If getting out of bed for brunch is difficult, you can soothe yourself with the Hard Wake Up Call ($10) with its two shots of espresso, bourbon, brown simple syrup, nutmeg and orange bitters.
The $18 brisket loco moco is easily the star of brunch. It's brisket, brown gravy, rice and mustard pickles with your choice of sous vide or scrambled eggs. Barbecue here is central Texas-style, so brisket and other meats are prepared in a Southern Pride indoor smoker. This is hefty, even for a loco moco, with plenty of meat, rice and glorious gravy to mop it up with. If you plan on trying several dishes, share this one.
This is my second-favorite dish: house-smoked salmon loaded on an Everything Bagel with tomato smear, capers and pickles and a side green salad. This is a flavorful dish (note the even salmon-to-bread ratio) that will satisfy without leaving you in a food coma.
This is a barbecue restaurant, after all, so the restaurant's Classic, Crack Seed and Kailua Green sauces go well with its brunch dishes. Kailua Green, a Thai green curry sauce mixed with cilantro and vinegar, is especially good with eggs; it's spicy but doesn't leave a lingering burn.
Golden waffles ($8), a brunch classic, are served with honey butter and real maple syrup but are so good that they don't need syrup. They're light, airy, simple and comforting — worth the 15-minute wait. Fruit and whipped cream are an additional $3. My recommendation: Order yours a la mode with the day's featured soft serve flavor ($3 extra). More later about the soft serve.
Other brunch entrees include a breakfast sandwich ($12) and a pork belly benedict ($15). The sammie comes with scrambled eggs, creamy pesto and arugula between slices of house focaccia. It isn't bad, but could use more scrambled eggs to complement the greenery. The pork belly benny is tasty and the housemade Hollandaise delightfully creamy, but I'd still pick the brisket loco moco.
See also: Best soft serve ice cream: Our Top 5
One more important detail: From 12:30 p.m., you can order off the lunch/dinner menu. This is when you can really indulge in that addictive soft serve, which comes as a dessert topped with a slab of flaky, buttery pie crust. This one's a game-changer by itself.
767 Kailua Rd., Suite 106
Weekend brunch Sat-Sun, 9 a.m.-1 p.m.