The restaurant arm of Simpatica Catering is sub rosa dining at its best. Access to its Friday and Saturday sit-down, fixed-menu dinners can only be granted via reservation, and only if you respond in a timely fashion to the weekly emails. They take a more egalitarian approach with the Sunday brunch: Mainstream breakfast standbys such as biscuits and gravy and corned beef hash are on the menu—and they are excellent across the board—but the real draws are the dishes that exemplify Simpatica's desire to push diners out of their comfort zones. Firm chunks of oil-poached tuna sit embedded in their frittata, balanced by a tangy, salty eggplant caponata and roasted potatoes. A strata (a savory bread pudding) bursting with pork shoulder is offset by a small dish of field greens, remarkable in their minimalist vinaigrette dressing. During busy mornings, the spoils go to the gregarious, as much of the seating is communal. With food this good, even strangers make excellent company.
828 SE Ash St. 235-1600.

IDEAL MEAL: Anything with the house bacon, fried chicken, waffles.