Because it's normally closed Sundays, Caseus Fromagerie and Bistro isn't a popular New Haven brunch destination. But thanks to two of its former chefs, the Whitney Avenue restaurant is hosting a series of morning meals this month.
Craig Hutchinson and Alex Lishchynsky, the team behind the [oink] pop-up concept, return home to the Caseus kitchen for three Sunday brunches on Jan. 10, 17 and 24. Each event features a unique prix-fixe menu comprised of locally sourced ingredients.
"If you were to Google-search 'cliché brunch dishes,' and then let our crazy minds kind of run with that, that's what we kind of do," Hutchinson said in an interview. The Jan. 10 menu, for example, offers courses like an omelet with lacinato kale, Brebirousse d'Argental cheese and horseradish; a rye flour pancake with rye whiskey maple, banana and bacon fat and "tres golpes," which he describes as a Dominican diner dish with salami, queso frito, egg and onion.
Hutchinson, a Bethany native, and Lishchynsky, who grew up in North Carolina, launched their pop-up project in 2015, hosting a dinner at Medlyn's Farm in Branford. Since then, they've appeared as guest chefs at River Tavern in Chester, cooked a four-course beer pairing dinner at Oxford's Black Hog Brewing out of the Chief Brody's Banh Mi food truck, and introduced their first Caseus brunch the weekend before Christmas.
This year will bring a full schedule of similar creative outings, Hutchinson said, with events planned at The Whelk in Westport on Jan. 31 and Mystic's Red 36 in February. The duo also plans to work with Millwright's in Simsbury and Community Table in Washington.
The business partners bring impressive resumes to the project, with big-city experience at top restaurants in Boston and New York. Their shared favorite style of cooking is contemporary Italian, gleaned from Hutchinson's time at Ribelle in Brookline and Lishchynsky's work at Il Buco Alimentari in Manhattan. Their next goal is to bring that culinary concept to a permanent location in New Haven, where they're in talks to secure a restaurant space, Hutchinson said.
The [oink] brunches on Jan. 10 and 24 are $32.64 for a three-course menu and a complimentary beverage, with seatings at 11 a.m., 11:45 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 1:15 p.m. Each seating has 20 spaces.
The Jan. 17 brunch begins at noon, celebrating Hutchinson's 30th birthday with a family-style, pork-heavy menu featuring half a pig from Walden Hill Farm. It's priced at $53.74, with Black Hog Brewing beer included.
Caseus is at 93 Whitney Avenue in New Haven. Information and menus: oinkrestaurant.com.