If there is any meal where using the best ingredients makes the biggest difference, we’re convinced that it has to be breakfast. The difference between cheapo bacon and the artisanal product, for instance, or eggs from battery-raised chickens versus free-range, becomes apparent with the first bite–if not before, given the brilliant color of free-range egg yolks. Brunch at Schlafly Bottleworks is a good example of that. Like several other local restaurants, it lists local purveyors on the menu and on a chalkboard in the dining room, a reminder that this definitely isn’t factory food.
The brunch menu, served both Saturday and Sunday, is primarily dishes for big breakfasts, one of the best ways to spend a weekend morning, but the full lunch menu also is offered. We concentrated on the breakfast-y stuff, and watched as family groups began to fill the room, joining the solo diners and couples who had been on hand when we arrived.
Instead of omelets, the kitchen offers fritattas, the egg dish that is similarly comprised of eggs mixed with various add-ins, served open-faced and not folded or flipped. We’ve explained them as scrambles that aren’t stirred. A fritatta with artichokes, mushrooms and venison was first-rate. The pleasantly tender slices of venison also appear in the house version of a Philly cheese steak, it turns out. The fritattas arrive with a generous serving of crisply fried hash browns, carefully seasoned to avoid any memory of the too-often served, far-too-bland versions of the dish. A cinnamon-scented honey wheat English muffin added a pleasant touch.
Bottleworks’ waffles arrive crowned with blueberries and berry syrup. Tender and cake-like, they’re also accompanied by a large scoop of whipped cream that, at first glance, resembles vanilla ice cream. It’s pleasant, and satisfies the sweet tooth, but is not needed to moisten things. An order of sausage brings more possibilities, either patties or hickory-smoked, almost like Polish and made in Washington, Mo. The hickory was a single large link, wonderfully savory, juicy and nicely smoky, a vigorous contrast to the sweet waffles.
Probably the piece de resistance of the brunch menu, though, is French toast made with the single dish (other than beer) that we associate most with Schlafly: Sticky toffee pudding. Four slices of the pudding (remember this is an English/Scottish dish, and "pudding" is used where we Yanks would say "cake") are dipped into a light egg batter and grilled. No toffee sauce here, just a drizzle of the berry syrup and a cup of maple syrup, which we didn’t use. Absolutely satisfying; but come summer, this is a dish where fresh fruit would be very appropriate. The idea of ripe, juicy local peaches sliced over this is shiveringly good. Our bacon order, four large slices, was high-quality material, crisp and satisfying.
Yes, good coffee and attentive service. The rest of the brunch menu shows imagination, too, like vegetarian biscuits and gravy, and huevos rancheros. Somebody running the show really likes breakfast, and it shines through in the food.
7260 Southwest Ave., Maplewood
Credit cards: All major
Wheelchair access: Good
Brunch Entrees: $6-$8