Sunny Side Up: Sunday Brunch in St. Louis
Growing up, breakfast for dinner was kind of a magical thing. It was like breaking a rule…with permission! Breakfast was supposed to be in the morning! Having scrambled eggs and bacon after 5pm made me a rebel. Ok, maybe not James Dean in a leather jacket, but my seven year old self thought it was pretty reckless. Now that I’m older, breakfast at any time of day, especially a hot one, is less rebellious and more a rare luxury. Grabbing a protein shake on my way out the door is a small but exceptional win for the day.
With our lives on fast track my girlfriends and I have decided to spend our Sundays finding the SUNNY, in both our lives and our eggs. Lucky for us, and much to the joy of my inner seven year old self, the restaurant industry has taken advantage of our need to slow down and take a breath with the Sunday Brunch trend. So in the happy pursuit of “research”, I set out with my girlfriends to find the perfect brunch place. The following, in no particular order, are my thoughts and reviews on the places we’ve been thus far.
1) Granite City Brewing Company – Best Bacon
Granite City, or GC as their logo suggests, offers up a Sunday Brunch buffet. They were recommended to me by a friend because of their good food, and more important: bottomless mimosas! Who could ask for more right? Funny thing is their “bottomless” mimosas are served in half size glasses and are only bottomless if you can ever catch your server. The entire visit took two and a half hours due to our server’s absentee status. However, the help yourself brunch buffet offered up some delicious variety. The legitimate, not paper thin, bacon would have made the entire trip worthwhile; the potato casserole and fresh fruit came in as close seconds. Never having tried eggs Benedict my friend suggested that I take advantage of the custom station to expand my breakfast palate. What I received was a hardboiled egg with clotted hollandaise on top of ham and an English muffin, which I was informed, could not count as my first eggs Benedict experience. Overall, would I return? Yes, but only if I had a friend that insisted.
2) The Shack – Best Service, Best Coffee
The minute you walk into The Shack you feel welcome. The décor is rustic and comfortable, a cross between industrial warehouse and cabin-in-the-woods. Every inch of the bare wood is covered in the names of people that came before you as a testament to the somewhat new restaurant’s popularity. You are greeted with a smile by everyone from the hostess, to the bartender, to your server. If they are busy, and they often are for Sunday brunch, there is a coffee bar to keep you company while you await your table. At the suggestion of our server, Don, I again ventured out of my breakfast comfort zone and ordered The Shack’s take on breakfast tacos, one pork belly and one chorizo. In keeping with the feel of the restaurant, the tacos were just as rustic and inventive as my surroundings, full of fresh and complementary flavors. The Shack’s take on a bloody mary, complete with a meat straw was also recently featured by the Riverfront Times as the most underrated bloody Mary in St. Louis. Oh, and did I mention they have the cutest To-Go coffee cups ever!? Overall, would I return? Yes, in a hot minute!
3) La Bonne Bouchée – Best Breakfast Desserts
The first step in beating addiction is admitting you have a problem, and I will be the first person to admit that I have an addiction to La Bonne Buchée’s fruit tarts. I’m a sucker for fresh fruit and when combined with pastry cream and a tart shell, I’m in fruit heaven. So it seemed only logical that I check out La Bonne’s brunch offerings. After sinful fruit tart-like expectations, La Bonne’s brunch experience was kind of disappointing. In my head, I expected a relaxed Parisian café kind of experience, what I got was a rushed American diner style meal. While the food was delicious (I could eat their breakfast potatoes all day long) the room was crowded and loud, making conversation and slow sipping our coffee not an option. Our server was also absent and unsmiling for most of the meal. Overall, would I return? Of course, but only to raid the bakery for their fruit tarts!
4) The Hearth Room Café – Best Brunch Overall, Best Eggs Benedict
I am not ashamed to admit that I am still day-dreaming of this brunch experience, and according to my girlfriends, I’m not alone! This adorable café has a quaint, yet classy upscale feel. The customer demographic may have had a few decades on me and my girlfriends but they were in on an amazing secret. Steaming cups of really good coffee were generously and attentively refilled by our kind server, Erin. After triple ordering the traditional/veggie eggs Benedict, we sat back and enjoyed the quiet hum of restaurant chatter, but were also left with the ability to enjoy our own conversations without shouting. The kitchen was slightly delayed with our order, but Erin gave us a heads up and kept the coffee coming. When our plates arrived, we soon discovered it would have been worth five times the wait. Even if you don’t like eggs Benedict, The Hearth Room Café’s veggie version will change your mind! Overall, would I return? Honestly, in the words of my friend Jax “I’ll be back!” and Kourtney “It brings out the terminator in us all!”