Not all brunches need to be meals of debauchery. Sometimes all you need is a little room to spread out, the comfort food that doesn't awake the brain too jarringly and some time. Granite City Food and Brewery is NOT referring to the city on the Illinois side of the river. It's the nickname of the chain's home town, St. Cloud, MN. There are two GCFBs in Missouri, the other on the far north side of Kansas City. They offer a large printed menu and plenty of beer choices - but it was too early for alcohol service on this visit for the brunch buffet.
It's a big dining room, and at perhaps 50% capacity it was fairly quiet. Lots of families. A well-dressed post-church group filed into a side room. Service was adequate but not over the top, and plates were not removed until after I'd returned from the buffet line with a fresh one.
This is a budget-priced brunch - no drinks are included, not even coffee - so it was no surprise that it was a fairly small buffet. A green salad and some fresh fruit waited against a wall, but the hot line was where most of the traffic was.
I suppose it's not surprising in a house that makes its own beer that the meat offerings were mostly tastu Excellent, thick bacon that was crisp, and very good link sausage. Scrambled eggs both with and without cheese were victims of the usual chafing dish overcooking, of course, but the sausage gravy was very tasty and the biscuits tender. French toast did surprisingly welll in another chafing dish, not drying out. Interestingly, potatoes appeared twice, once early in the line, a potato cassrole, shreds in a creamy sauce not unlike what's jokingly called funeral potatoes, garlic and onion and pepper punching things up, and later, near the carving station, mashed potatoes with some garlic there, too, but much less.
The carving station served boneless ham, good but not great, and roast beef. Puzzling, the roast beef was. It was supposed to be prime rib and the slice looked medium rare. But to the fork (it didn't require a knife), the texture was much like brisket that was sliced across the grain, that slightly crumbly texture that comes after hours of gentle heat.
Across the way was something new: An eggs Benedict bar. The eggs, while not poached to order, were reheated in simmering water and the underpinnings assembled to order. Options besides Canadian bacon included mushrooms, tomato, creamed spinach and something else I couldn't quite identify. Hollandaise sauce was surprisingly good under the circumstances, and while some could quibble that everything wasn't piping hot, delivering any Benedict variation that way is difficult. English muffins cool quickly after toasting, the Canadian bacon is thin enough that it, too, looses heat, and the hollandaise itself can't be kept at a high temperature before the eggs in it begin to scramble. The Benny I had, classic but with an added slice of tomato, worked quite well, the muffin being crisp but not like styrofoam.
With the desserts was a waffle iron and batter, whipped cream and strawberries at hand. (For syrup, one had to return to the French toast.) Two large pans of large cinnamon rolls were being kept warm, and these turned out to be remarkably good. Unlike a certain national chain's product, even after they cooled to room temperature, they were tasty and moist, one of the finds of the morning. Scones, on the other hand were unusually dry and crumbly.
Not fabulous, but pretty good for a lower-priced buffet and a good choice for feeding folks who aren't deeply adventurous eaters.
11411 Olive St. Rd., Creve Coeur (Dierbergs Plaza)
Credit cards: Yes
Wheelchair access: Good
Brunch: $16, children under 12 free