At some restaurants, brunch is often a highly scripted, predictable and ho-hum meal.
But that's not the case at Maple Cafe, a recent newcomer in the Woodland Commons Shopping Center in Buffalo Grove that serves only breakfast and lunch.
Maple Café340 W. Half Day Road, Buffalo Grove, (847) 383-5334, maple-cafe.com
Cuisine: Breakfast and lunch
Setting: Contemporary and casual
Prices: Breakfast items: $8-$16; lunch salads, sandwiches: $10-$14.25
Hours: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily
Its menu, while expansive enough to include the key components that typically define the makings of a good brunch, ups the ante by adding a touch of Mediterranean flair.
For example, nested among the egg dishes is a Mediterranean omelet made with sun-dried tomatoes, goat cheese, onions and fresh basil. And diners will find one of the salads, Mediterranean chicken, features chicken tossed with cucumbers, tomatoes, Kalamata olives, feta and lettuce in a mint-lemon dressing.
Similar touches -- including homemade sauces, salad dressings and soups (a velvety split pea the day we visited) -- reflect the establishment's commitment to quality food as fostered by owner Ted Anastopoulos and executed by chef Kostas Anyfantis.
Anastopoulos, a native of Greece, has had two decades of experience in the restaurant business, including 12 years as owner-operator of Teddy's Diner in Elk Grove Village, which also caters to the breakfast/lunch crowd.
Maple Cafe, which occupies an airy remodeled space that once housed Michael's Chicago Style Red Hots, seats about 130 at tables and booths in two high-ceilinged rooms.
Choices abound among the egg and omelet creations, from smoked salmon and South of the Border to Italian and Mile High skillets. There's even a build-your-own omelet, but with a 50-cent upcharge for each ingredient (i.e. peppers, ham, chorizo, asparagus).
The tasty, picture-perfect California skillet proved a substantial dish that clearly served as the main meal of the day. It included four eggs cooked with spinach, avocado, tomato, broccoli, potatoes and crumbled goat cheese. Toast also was part of the package.
Looking for more variety? Consider French toast (challah vanilla bean, banana walnut), pancakes (white chocolate chip, apple caramel), waffles, Benedicts, chicken liver and eggs scrambler, and sweet crepes (one stuffed with Nutella, banana and strawberry, and a Banana Foster version topped with warm banana rum sauce and whipped cream).
From the sandwich side of the menu, I wholeheartedly endorse the Reuben. Even cut in half, this classic meaty sandwich required two hands to grasp given its generous serving of corned beef. It came on rye bread with sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and Thousand Island dressing. The house-made chips were thin, crispy and easy to eat.
A third member in our party was gung-ho about her half-pound Angus burger with Wisconsin cheddar, triple-smoked bacon and caramelized onion.
Still other possibilities included Monterey chicken, horseradish rib-eye sandwich, fish tacos, Baja vegetable wrap and sliced roast turkey as well as salads like the crispy chicken wedge, summer berry, and quinoa and kale with chicken.
Hearty Lavazza coffee hit the spot as we relaxed over a leisurely midday meal. Fresh-squeezed orange (and grapefruit) juice also can be ordered.
Alcoholic beverages aren't available nor are desserts, though our attentive server said the latter are frequently requested and may yet make an appearance.
• Restaurant reviews are based on one anonymous visit. The Daily Herald does not publish reviews of restaurants it cannot recommend.