When it comes to brunch, hungry suburban diners will find an abundance of choices.
Brunch Café occupies prime space in downtown St. Charles in a new building that's part of a revitalization project to transform the shore along the Fox River. This location is the fifth outlet in the restaurant group, started in February 2008, that runs similar cafes in Roselle, Huntley, Fox River Grove and McHenry. Another cafe is in the works for Niles.
Brunch Café172 S. First St., St. Charles, (630) 940-2814, brunchcafe.com/
Hours: 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily
Also: Free Wi-Fi, street parking, banquet space, catering, children's menu
Other locations: Roselle: 1506 W. Lake St.; Huntley: 12270 Princeton Drive; Fox River Grove: 935 Route 22; McHenry: 414 State Route 31
The venue, co-owned by Andy Zatos, features a well-rounded breakfast and lunch menu that delivers the goods at every turn.
Pancakes, omelets, Belgian waffles, crepes and French toast are all represented on the breakfast list. The same holds for lunch dishes, where the lineup includes multiple entree salads, burgers, wraps, paninis and assorted sandwiches.
There's enough variety to entice diners (present company included) to keep coming back again and again.
Based on a recent visit, I can affirm that Brunch Café's kitchen pays attention to quality and ingenuity. Meanwhile, a well-trained waitstaff indicates how much management prizes service.
Yet another plus are the reasonable prices. Most entrees are priced lower than $10.
The Ay Caramba! pleased from the first bite to the last mouthful. This filling skillet dish, topped off with two overeasy eggs, offered a harmony of flavors with its mix of chorizo, onions, tomatoes, jalapeńos and cheddar atop a bed of extra crispy hash browns. The dish came with sour cream and a tasty tomato salsa.
For a side dish, I strongly endorse Blueberry Bliss: fluffy blueberry-infused pancakes layered with a sweetened cream cheese filling, topped with plump blueberries and a vanilla bean glaze. The small upcharge was worth every penny.
My dining partner struck gold, too, with the veggie potato pancake, an inventive riff on eggs Benedict. Two lovely poached eggs came with sauteed spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes, onions, green peppers, Monterey Jack and hollandaise sauce. The accompanying fresh fruit was a treat.
Our attentive and hospitable server readily fielded questions about the menu. He also recommended the skirt steak skillet made with eggs, mushrooms, onions and provolone.
Another popular choice, South of the Border, gives the traditional quesadilla a new look. The dish comes with a combination of scrambled eggs, melted cheddar, green onions, tomatoes and bacon folded in a large tortilla and topped with sour cream and avocado slices.
Intelligentsia coffee, smoothies and a variety of fruit juices comprise the beverage service. Customers also have the option of ordering a mimosa or Bloody Mary.
On a subsequent visit, we intend to explore the lunch side of the menu. Chicken figures in a number of dishes, including entree salads such as stuffed avocado and berry chicken. Diners also will want to consider gourmet sandwiches like the Reuben New Yorker (corned beef, sauerkraut and Swiss cheese on grilled marble rye) or the chicken salad or turkey club.
There's also a selection of customizable burgers (certified Angus), such as the kick my angus with onion rings, sliced jalapeńos, cheddar and chipotle ranch and the brunch burger with grilled onions, tomato and Swiss sandwiched between a fried egg and a bed of baby spinach and accompanied by cottage cheese.
So many tempting choices ... for next time.
• Restaurant reviews are based on one anonymous visit. The Daily Herald does not publish reviews of restaurants it cannot recommend.