Red Pump Kitchen delivers more than your average brunch

Southern style comfort food provides a twist


I walked in expecting to order some variation of the typical mid-morning meal, but Red Pump broke the brunch rules in the best way possible.  

Sadie Goodman | Cavalier Daily

As a Charlottesville native, Red Pump Kitchen has been a staple in my rotation of favorite dinner venues since its opening in 2014. The Mediterranean-Italian menu provides delicious, upscale comfort food with a dash of creativity and decadence. Some personal favorites are the kale caesar salad and the margherita pizza. The salad is well-dressed and surprisingly full of texture for a bowl of greens. The thin, crisp crust on the pizza contrasts beautifully with the tender, milky mozzarella. I’ve been consistently satisfied with my dinners at Red Pump, though it is a bit pricey for the typical college student’s budget.

I’ve recommended Red Pump to many friends searching for a place to feed their foodie families this Family Weekend. This recommendation luckily came full circle when I received a Saturday brunch offer with a friend and her parents. Although evening meals at Red Pump are not a rarity for my family and me, I’ve never before entered the realm of brunch. I didn’t even know they served brunch. 

Walking in, Red Pump is inviting with its bright and open dining area. The large window facing the Downtown Mall gives ample natural light and provides a simple form of dinner theater, people watching — the time honored way to observe spirit of Charlottesville through its residents. 

This rainy Saturday, the restaurant was quite calm as we entered and found our seats, but it soon filled up with college students and their parents coming to sit for a meal before the football game. The menu was innovative and delightful. At first, I was surprised by the lack of simple, basic brunch foods and was scrambling to find something to suit my palate as the waiter approached our table.

Between the six of us, there were four orders of the eggs benedict, two orders of the potato latkes and one of the shrimp á la polenta. The eggs benedict looked delicious and were served with prosciutto on a housemade biscuit. The potato latkes — my order of the morning — were seasoned with a light aioli, stacked with two fried eggs and topped with a handful of arugula. The latkes were deliciously greasy, with a crisp outside complemented beautifully by the eggs on top. The freshness of the arugula counteracted the heaviness of the greasy, fried potatoes and eggs. Once the arugula ran out, the latkes were overwhelming. 

The shrimp á la polenta was a unique take on traditional southern shrimp and grits using polenta — grits’ Italian cousin. I walked in expecting to order some variation of the typical mid-morning meal, but Red Pump broke the brunch rules in the best way possible. 

Red Pump Kitchen delivers every time — the food was great, my water glass was never empty and the servers were attentive but not overbearing. I would highly recommend Red Pump Kitchen for a nice weekend brunch, and I would especially recommend it for dinner. 

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