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Dining Features
Apr 01, 2012


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Best of the Brunch

ALIVE's delicious guide to AM eats worth waking up for—plus fun things to do while you're in the neighborhood.
Story: Amy De La Hunt
Photos: Jennifer Silverberg

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Never before have we been so excited to rise and shine—until brunch started sizzling on the local dining scene. Yes, that leisurely hybrid of breakfast and lunch is hotter than bacon and sweeter than doughnuts. And, because it doesn't come to you via food truck (at least, not yet), tracking down your favorite will take a bit of exploring, but will be well worth the effort—now that you have this handy neighborhood brunch guide to lead the way.

DOWNTOWN/MIDTOWN

A Piece of Heaven

Cielo, 999 N. Second St., 314.881.5800

Craving a jet-setting brunch in Saint-Tropez? Cielo is just the ticket. Pull into the complimentary valet parking at the Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis, ride up to the eighth floor, and voilà, you're entering a world of carefree sophistication. To complete your French fantasy, order the classic croque-monsieur: Jones Heritage Farms ham, Swiss cheese, béchamel sauce and whole-grain mustard on toast. It shares the menu with delicacies like brûlée French toast with blueberry compote and waffles with cappuccino-mascarpone cream. Or, let Executive Chef Fabrizio Schenardi transport you to his native Italy via a breakfast pizza, topped with tomato sauce, asparagus, Parmesan cheese and sunny-side-up eggs. Score a table by the floor-to-ceiling windows, or better yet, on the Sky Terrace if the weather cooperates—and you'll be treated to stunning views of the Arch, the Old Cathedral and our own venerable waterfront. No yachts, but Cielo does offer the occasional celebrity sighting.

While You're in the Neighborhood...
Test your skills with the pins at Flamingo Bowl, or try your luck at Lumière Place Casino's 2,000 slot machines and 55 gaming tables. Get a little artsy by exploring the open-air sculptures at Citygarden or the work of local artists in galleries along Washington Avenue, where the theme-appropriate exhibit "Food, Glorious Food" opens April 16 at Art St. Louis. In Grand Center, artist Christodoulos Panayiotou presents "One Thousand and One Days" at the Contemporary Art Museum.

Next Weekend…
Café Ventana

Wake up your weekend with live music, sugar-dusted beignets and freshly roasted French-pressed New Orleans chickory coffee (3919 W. Pine Blvd., 314.531.7500).

City Diner
How can you choose between the slinger, deep-fried French toast, meatloaf omelet and
country-fried steak-and-eggs? Such is the diner's delicious dilemma (541 N. Grand Blvd., 314.533.7500).

Rooster
The best crêpes this side of Brittany—sweet or savory—can be found at Rooster. Plus, its slinger is Food Network Magazine's top choice for breakfast in Missouri (1104 Locust
St., 314.241.8118).

The London Tea Room
A lovely destination for fresh pastries, scones with Devonshire cream or the quintessential British breakfast—the bacon sandwich—washed down with a unique tea blend (1520 Washington Ave., 314.241.6556).

Lucas Park Grille
After dark, it's a hotspot, but when the sun rises, there's a hearty plate of steak-and-eggs with your name on it (1234 Washington Ave., 314.241.7770).

Plush
Stay late for the live music, and come back early for the espresso bar, savory breakfast waffles, cheese grits and other made-from-scratch comfort food (3224 Locust St., 314.535.2686).

Nadoz Café
"Sunday Funday" brunch offers the wholesomeness of house-made granola and scrambled egg whites—plus the decadence of éclairs, tarts and cakes. Saints and sinners, united (3701 Lindell Blvd., 314.446.6800).

LAFAYETTE SQUARE/SOULARD/BENTON PARK/SOUTH CITY

French Flavor

Rue Lafayette, 2026 Lafayette Ave.,314.772.2233

Signing a waiver for the ménage à trois hot chocolate isn't really required. But, it's true that owner Araceli Kopiloff has hit on a danger ous combination of spicy chocolate, strong espresso, whipped cream and the spirit of your choice. Intoxicating libations aside, the pastries can also induce a case of throwing caution to the wind. And, then there are the trinkets from France, the handmade baubles, headbands and decorations for sale on the retail displays scattered throughout the dining room. Once you've fallen under its spell, this charmingly eclectic Lafayette Park café is hard to escape in oh-so-many ways. On weekends, the kitchen opens at 8am with pastries, frittatas and croissants. But, if you can hold off until 11am, you'll be treated to the weekend jazz brunch, with jazz and swing bands in an intimate setting and additional lunch items on the menu. Regardless of what time you arrive, the quiches and soufflés are a constant, in flavors like tomato mozzarella and spinach goat cheese.

After Brunch...
Shop Local:
Saturdays have been a sight to behold ever since Soulard Farmers' Market
started in 1779—though the weekend chef demo had yet to be invented. By comparison,
the Tower Grove Farmers' Market, which re-opens on May 5, is a spring chicken. Old and new mingle on The Hill, where a shopping stroll leads from designer sweaters to house-made pasta, fresh cannoli and locally cured prosciutto.

Next weekend...
Aya Sofia
Try a traditional Turkish breakfast of cheeses, olives and tomatoes, or go the (slightly)
more American route with a döner omelet at this exotic Sunday brunch (6671 Chippewa, 314.645.9919).

Benton Park Café
Rise and shine, because if you oversleep, the line will be out the door at this neighborhood hangout. Don't worry though—the friendly staff will make sure to save you a breakfast pizza (1900 Arsenal st., 314.771.7200).

Black Bear Bakery
These traditional artisan bread bakers offer a comfy weekend brunch, and they make their vegan friends at home with specialties like dairy-free muffins (2639 Cherokee St.,
314.771.2236).

Lemp Mansion
This family-style chicken dinner pulls out all the stops—including applesauce, rolls, mac-and-cheese, ham, corn…and yes, it's on the table before noon (3322 DeMenil Place, 314.664.8024).

Lily's
If you love salsa on your huevos, the authentic Mexican breakfast at this family-run eatery will make you feel right at home (4601 S. Kingshighway, 314.352.1894).

Local Harvest Cafe
Slingers with vegan chili and farm-fresh eggs? You betcha, and that's just the tip of the iceberg at this locavore-friendly café (3137 Morgan Ford, 314.772.8815).

Molly's
What could be better than biscuits and gravy? Buttermilk biscuits with andouille sausage and gravy, that's what. Authentic Creole favorites pepper the entire brunch menu (816
Geyer Ave., 314.241.6200).

Vin De Set
The Sunday brunch buffet changes weekly at this rooftop bistro, but the build-your-
own omelet prime rib and dessert stations never seem to disappear (2017 Chouteau Ave., 314.241.8989).

CENTRAL WEST END

Country Kitchen

Café Osage, 4605 Olive St., 314.454.6868

 Much of the food we eat travels 1,300 miles to reach our plates. At Café Osage, some of it barely travels 1,300 feet. A garden across the street grows fresh produce for the restaurant during the spring, summer and fall, and a rooftop herb garden adds extra flavor. True, some provisions arrive by truck, like the bison products from Bowood Farm in Clarksville, MO, which also grows most of the plants sold in the greenhouse adjoining the café. Other products (seasonal and organic whenever possible) are sourced from local farmers and producers. The exquisitely simple breakfast menu highlights the natural flavors of the eggs, bacon, chicken and dairy products. Take the biscuits and gravy: pillowy puffs of chives and cheddar are topped generously with creamed chicken, mushrooms and leeks. Whatever you order, get a side of the Bowood bison sausage. If you like it—and you will—ask if it's available frozen over in the retail shop. As the garden store gears up for spring, the ambiance in the café's outdoor seating area flourishes, too; it's one of the best places in town to get a flower fix. But, be forewarned—it's hard to leave without a little something to green up your life.

After Brunch...
Go boutique-ing and spend the afternoon browsing the independent shops in the CWE. Trees, fresh air, designer clothes, shoes, bags, mens wear, jewelry…it's all here at boutiques like Ivy Hill, Mary Jane's, Moris and 10denza.

Next Weekend...
2Schae Café

You can order breakfast any day of the week, but only on weekends do the eight-plus flavors of pancakes hit the griddle (275 Union Blvd., 314.361.5333).

Bixby's
You can't beat classic, locavore dishes in the atmosphere of the History museum (5700 Lindell Blvd., 314.361.7313).

Eau Bistro
The only thing that could make this Sunday buffet better is if it came with a key to a guest room for an afternoon nap (212 n. Kingshighway blvd., 314.454.9000).

Herbie's
The kitchen's French influence extends to brunch, where the country-fried steak is filet mignon, and the French toast is pain perdu (405 N. Euclid Ave., 314.769.9595).

Salt
This 2012 James Beard award nominee offers a few popular dinner dishes on the brunch menu, like pork-and-fennel meatballs and duck-fat frites (4356 lindell blvd., 314.932.5787).

Scape
The Sunday champagne brunch rises a notch above the ordinary with treats like farmer's cheese pancakes with lemon curd (48 Maryland Plaza, 314.361.7227).

The Scottish Arms
Come on in, laddie, for a bloody Mary and the Highland Hangover: scotch eggs, baby bridies, toad in the hole and smoked salmon (8 S. Sarah St., 314.535.0551).

CLAYTON/U CITY/THE LOOP

Coffee and Confidence

Half and Half 8135 Maryland Ave., 314.725.0719

With a menu that's half breakfast, half lunch, you'd be hard-pressed to find a more perfect place for weekend brunch. Owner Mike Randolph and crew are so confident of the winning formula, they go a little crazy—putting things like Brussels sprouts in the veggie hash. And, the chicken livers? From what we're told, they're good here. We can, however, personally vouch for the citrus and cinnamon-sugar doughnuts. There's also nothing halfhearted about the restaurant's dedication to coffee under barista Mike Marquard. The two rotating blends, usually roasted locally by Kaldi's, are served according to strength and brewing methods: espresso, cappuccino, latte, hand-brewed drip, woodneck cloth-filtered, AeroPress or the bottomless diner mug. If you're still only halfway convinced that this bright, open spot is the place to start your weekend, visit the blog and find out which coffees are in the grinder and what special delicacies are on the brunch menu.

Next Weekend…
Blueberry Hill
The décor is what makes this a favorite weekend destination— though there's something to be said for a restaurant that offers a side of tater tots (6504 Delmar Blvd., 314.727.4444).

City Coffeehouse & Creperie
After seeing the dozens of crêpe fillings available in this popular weekend hangout, everything else—even Belgian waffles and house-baked pastries—fades into the background (36 N. Brentwood Blvd., 314.862.2489).

Lu Lu Seafood Restaurant
You know the dim sum is authentic when the four main chefs hail from four different regions of China, and the dining room is likewise full of native speakers (8224 Olive Blvd., 314.997.3108).

Oceano Bistro
It's a Sunday brunch fit for King Triton, with seafood in every direction: salads, soups, flatbreads, fritattas, hash and even the hollandaise (44 N. Brentwood Blvd., 314.721.9400).

Pomme Café and Wine Bar
In this age of industrial everything, when a restaurant says it cracks your eggs, you know it's serious about simplicity and quality (44 N. Central Ave., 314.721.8801).

The Restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton
Special occasions call for a Sunday splurge, and this brunch buffet delivers, from caviar to a dessert selection that must be seen to be believed (100 Carondelet Plaza, 314.719.1450).

Sasha's Wine Bar
The definition of relaxation is a leisurely sunday brunch, wine glass in hand, over-looking an urban park (706 DeMun Ave., 314.863.7274).

Winslow's Home
The farm-to-table relationship doesn't get much tighter than this, and the kitschy country store reinforces the wholesome vibe (7213 delmar blvd.,314.725.7559).

While You're in the Neighborhood
Cozy up at St. Louis' 1920s-era movie palace, the Tivoli Theatre, for an indie or foreign film that won't be at the megaplex anytime soon. The medium is different, but the passion is the same at Subterranean Books, where the staff stocks quirky literature from small presses, cult classics, indie bestsellers and more.


MAPLEWOOD/WEBSTER/RICHMOND HEIGHTS

No Place Like Home

Home Wine Kitchen 7322 Manchester Road, 314.802.7676

Cassandra Vires has a knack for translating food from the rarified world of chefdom into a simple pleasure for her customers. In her hands, highfalutin' ingredients like duck confit, arugula and truffle oil take on a comfort ing familiarity. The owner and executive chef can do the reverse, too, elevating untrendy dishes like Eggs Benedict with grits, tasso, spinach and spiced hollandaise. On the newly launched spring brunch menu, Vires and her hus band and co-owner, Joshua Renbarger, are expanding on playful combinations that customers are already familiar with, like the balsamic chicken and rosemary waffle (a popular dish that, happily, is a holdover on the new menu). Just a few examples to whet the appetite: bread pud ding French toast, blueberry pancakes with lemon and buttermilk syrup and shortbread sea-salt biscuits with Meyer lemon jam. As the name suggests, there are wines available, of course (at decent prices, too), but it's almost impossible not to fall for the Bloody Wilbur: bacon vodka, tomato juice and pickled asparagus. Toto, we're definitely not in Kansas anymore.

Next Weekend…

Boardwalk Café
Continue the party from the night before with a Fiesta Skillet: home fries, eggs, chopped sirloin and Tex-Mex top ping. No lunch, just breakfast on Sundays (600 E. Lockwood Ave., 314.963.0013).

Cyrano's
A decision to have Sunday brunch at Cyrano's is really a ploy for the World's Fair éclair…the caramel brioche bread pudding…and the red velvet cupcakes (603 E. Lockwood Ave., 314.963.3232).

Highway 61 Roadhouse
The Cajun-style comfort food Sunday buffet offers everything from catfish to beignets to jambalaya. But, with true Southern hospitality, the kitchen will also whip you up pancakes, eggs and omelets—and pour a cocktail while you wait (34 S. Old Orchard Ave., 314.968.0061).

Lubeley's Bakery & Deli
This German-style bakery has been around long enough to know that its customers want to hang out and savor their doughnuts, strudels, stollens and breakfast pastries in the shop (7815 Watson Road, 314.961.7160).

While You're in the Neighborhood
See a Show: Catch the The Rep's version of Shakespeare's "A Comedy of Errors" during Sunday matinees on April 1 and 8. Black Cat Theatre offers the kiddos a post-brunch treat on Saturday mornings, this month with a retelling of "Puss in Boots."
Take a Tour: Every weekend, Schlafly Bottleworks hosts free tours from noon to 5pm, ending with a complimentary tasting, of course! If your family skews younger, they're probably more into exploring on their own at The Magic House.


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