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MSP: Where do you like for brunch?

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What do you all recommend for a weekend brunch in the Twin Cities? It'll be a small group celebrating a special occasion so it should be a place with nice ambiance and not too busy or noisy. Menu or buffet doesn't matter as long as it's not Old Country Buffetish. Thanks!

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  1. I'm not quite sure about the ambience- but I like Bon Vie (apieceofcake.com) in St. Paul. It's got a reasonably priced selection with someone for everyone, it tends to draw in small groups, with the coffee/read the paper type - and it's not too busy or noisy. Another place might be Muffuletta (I think it is Muffuletta.com) in the St. Anthony area (for Sun)...they have a nice ambience, good selection and they try to use the good stuff-Fisher Farms pork, ham, etc. Relatively quiet. If you are on the Minneapolis side-perhaps Grand Cafe (www.grandcafempls.com); I personally am not totally taken with it-but so many people love Cafe Twenty-Eight (though the earlier you meet the better...families with children from the area tend to come in and it can get louder), it's got a little history too (fire station) but I think the menu sounds better than it's actually delivered on your plate. Nicollet Island Inn executes a decent Sunday brunch as well - no question about ambience, and ability to suit the noise level-they have the $30 coursed brunch-but you can order a la carte. Happy eating!

    1 Reply
    1. re: snoboardbabe77

      We recently had brunch at B.A.N.K. in downtown Mpls and were pleasantly surprised at both the ambience and the quality of the food. I especially loved the tiny muffin-esque pastries and tiny desset shooters. They have small alcoves where you can have a small group and feel almost secluded. We really enjoyed it.

    2. I'd second the Grand Cafe (Minneapolis) recommendation - we've had 3 brunches there that have all been great (love the red-eye gravy); also, Nick & Eddy in the old Loring Bare spot is good (& has terrific butterscotch pudding for dessert).

      1 Reply
      1. re: David.Spawn

        Breakfast at Nick & Eddie is good - better than dinner, IMO. I'd also recommend Lucia's for a nice quiet simple breakfast/brunch. I like breakfast at Barbette as well, but it may or may not suit your needs regarding ambiance.

      2. Jax Cafe (www.jaxcafe.com) is the perfect special occasion brunch spot. Yum!

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        Jax Cafe
        1928 University Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55418

        1. I'm a big fan of the brunch at The Strip Club in St. Paul... Great view of downtown, nice ambience, great service, great brunchy cocktails (if you're into that sort of thing), excellent food (though I'm still heartbroken that they've replaced the amazing meat hash with a salmon hash-- I don't eat fish!).

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          The Strip Club
          378 Maria Ave, Saint Paul, MN 55106

          1. My vote is for Jay's Cafe on Raymond in St. Paul. The Carmel Apple French Toast is close to the best execution of "spin on french toast" that I've had. It's small, quiet, and comfy (the restaurant, not teh french toast!). Their other menu items are decent as well. I like the fact that the menu isn't all "the same old breakfast stuff".

            So while the cattle line up out the door half a block down at Keys, I walk right in and sit right down at Jay's (not Alice's :) and have a better meal, in a quieter, less crowded establishment at just about the same price (if not for a little less).

            My runner up is Modern Cafe over in Minneapolis' NE. The Pot Roast Hash topped with two poached eggs is darn close to heaven.

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            Keys Cafe
            Minneapolis, MN, Minneapolis, MN

            Jay's Cafe
            St. Paul, mn, St Paul, mn

            3 Replies
            1. re: s4zando

              Yeah I don't really get the keys thing, I had a decent brunch there but it was nothing special. I would avoid spill the wine, I've had a good dinner there but the brunch is just not a good idea. The Bloody Mary bar was especially disappointing.

              1. re: saintfirky

                I think some of the Key's are better than others. I really don't like that one on Raymond. I do like the one in downtown St. Paul, though. I like their cinnamon rolls, anything that comes with the house-made rhubarb jam, and the omelet that comes with turkey. It's a working-person's breakfast sort of place--I wouldn't take anyone there for a special occasion brunch.

                I'm afraid I'm not much of a fan of Jay's Cafe for breakfast either. Everything sounds great when you read the menu, but somehow the food just doesn't deliver.

                I do like Craftsman for brunch, pretty low-key. One of these days, I'm going to get there when their patio is open, but, somehow, I've never made it.

                You mentioned special occasion and nice atmosphere--20-21 at the Walker is in a pretty stunning setting. I think the food is good for buffet food, but, it's still buffet food, beautifully presented, constantly refreshed. Except for Puck's signature salmon pizza, it didn't knock my socks off. Still, lovely setting and something a little different.

                I agree with Diesel's rec for WA Frost, also.

                Manny's is also open for breakfast now. I had one serious service hiccup when I was there (from which the server spent the entire meal trying to recover), but it definitely feels like a splurge, if you want to eat at Manny's, but don't want to spend dinner prices, it could be fun.

                ~TDQ

                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                  My own experiences at Jay's Cafe for breakfast have been great, but I've only tried two things: Eggs Sardou and the Caramel Apple French Toast. The French toast is so good that I never even want to try anything else. It's has the perfect custard-like interior, and it's not overwhelmed with caramel sauce like you might expect it to be. They go a bit heavy on the whipped cream and skimp a bit on the apples, but it's not like people choose French toast for a healthy breakfast.

                  But my husband has never liked anything he's gotten there, so we rarely go any more for breakfast.

                  I really liked WA Frost's brunch when I went there last month. I had French toast, and while not as good as Jay's, it was quite delicious. The atmosphere there is fantastic, and it's really quiet at that time of day. We sat right by the wood-burning stove.

            2. My fave is W.A. Frost in St. Paul. Lovely atmosphere no matter what time of year, exceptional service, and (since their chef change about - what - a year or so ago?) a wonderful menu. 374 Selby Avenue, St. Paul

              Caveat: have not tried a lot of the previous posters' recs.

              1 Reply
              1. re: diesel

                Think about Lake Elmo Inn in Lake Elmo also. It's a nice spread, much of it housemade, much of it seafood, and a bottomless glass of champagne (or nonalcohlic equivalent)

              2. I really enjoy the blackbird cafe, however it can get a bit packed, it would try to be seated int he back of the room.

                And i do beleive it has some of the most unique ambiance in the twin cities. Great food quality and preparation. Simple menu, and friendly staff.

                1 Reply
                1. re: ashii

                  I second ashii's Blackbird thought, espacially if you can get in the back. If it is on the menu, the oxtail hash is not to be missed.
                  TDQ also mentioned Craftsman, which like her, I love and do not get to often enough. The food is so good.

                2. I really like brunch at the Northland Inn. It's classy and comfortable and has a really nice variety of high quality foods. Something for everyone. We go to brunch a lot and this one surprised me, it's one of the best in town. Do not go on a major holiday however, they pack em in like sardines and the quality suffers.

                  http://www.northlandinn.com/Dining_En...

                  1. I loved the Blackbird, best hashbrowns I've had (although my mom is still partial to the classics at Our Kitchen). I would also recommend Barbette and Zumbros for brunch. Yum!

                    1. Sorry, one more - Windows on MN is on the 50th floor downtown and the view is spectacular. It is buffet-style but easily the best I've seen executed, with a variety of breakfast and non-breakfast foods. It's not cheap but you will definitely get your fill and the food (including meats) is quality.

                      1. i did "brunchquest 2008" reports on craftsman, jax, w.a. frost

                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/500508
                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/536803
                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/506384

                        also like meritage in st paul for brunch. wholeheartedly agree with TDQ's assessment of jay's cafe being a bit lackluster at brunch-- although we were addicted to the pork hash they offered for a while-- is it still on the menu? the winner of brunchquest 2008 was the strip club in st paul, we got positively in a *rut* going there for sunday brunch. love the whole menu. have not had a brunchquest yet in 2009, as my budget has been constrained. . .

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                        Craftsman Restaurant
                        4300 Lake Street, Minneapolis, MN 55406

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: soupkitten

                          How could I forget Meritage?! Love Meritage for brunch.

                          ~TDQ

                        2. Al Vento in the Nokomis neighborhood. You just have to go. An Italian restaurant by night, they cook up the best buffet brunch! Sundays only 10-2. $14 with bottomless mimosas. The ambiance is warm and relaxing. And.. the eggs bendict are to die for! So light and rich at the same time, they keep the supply fresh, I saw the chef out checking on food at least every 10 minutes. Pretty quiet this last Sunday. Honestly, such a perfect balance bewtween choice and quality. Free parking and close to Minnehaha Falls for a post brunch stroll.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: daniellempls

                            Wow this sounds awesome!! I am definitely headed to Al Vento for my next brunch date with the girls. Thanks for the info!!

                          2. I recently went to Maria's Cafe on Lake for breakfast/brunch and loved it. I am normally a pancake hater, but the corn pancakes here were delicious. The flavor was so good on their own that my maple-syrup-loving husband refrained from pouring anything on them. I had an egg scramble dish that came with warm tortillas and great salsa. All inexpensive, as I remember. There was a guy playing Spanish guitar in the other room--sounded beautiful. Has anyone else had good luck with this place?

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: midwaygirl

                              Love Maria's! Try their arepas, their corn pancakes, basically anything Colombian is really unique and delicious. Anything is good there, but really, eggs over easy are eggs over easy. Blue corn pancakes are not as easy to find.

                              1. re: midwaygirl

                                thanks for mentioning maria's! are we talking about the same place-- i think it's on franklin, & not lake street? it's a great place that for some reason doesn't come up on threads as many times as it probably deserves. we need to be thinking about old favorites that might deserve a visit during these economic times. . . welcome to the boards, by the way Midwaygirl, always nice to hear a new voice.

                                1. re: soupkitten

                                  Yes, Maria's is on Franklin, several blocks East of Chicago.

                                  And, yes, welcome to MidwayGirl.

                                  ~TDQ

                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                    ACK, right. It IS on Franklin. And thanks for the welcome!

                                  2. re: soupkitten

                                    Tried out Maria's Cafe this morning (Franklin & 13th) and now have a favorite place for big, hearty, cheap breakfasts. The corn pancakes are scrumptious. Each one is big enough to choke a truck driver! The bacon was thick cut. The ham was absolutely delicious. High quality food, good service and extremely reasonable.

                                    1. re: discus

                                      The corn pancakes are obscene if you add the cotija cheese to them. it soaks up the butter... Mmmmm