Yia Yia's has settled happily into what is, for a restaurant, middle age, a mile or two north of I-64. (Coming from the south, it'll take a U-turn, so be prepared.) The interior is sort of Colorado-Modern Ski Resort, with light wood and plenty of stone. It can get noisy during happy hour, but our most recent visit for brunch didn't have the problem, even with a reasonable number of kids on hand. It's a buffet arranged in the bar area, which thus occupies the part of the restaurant usually meant for smokers. The only smoke we found, though, was involving some nice cold trout.
And that trout is one of the things that make this a good value for the $19.95 tag, including non-alcoholic beverages, for adults. The seafood dishes are considerably more varied than usually found in this price range. Both smoked and poached salmon are on offer, along with bagel halves, cream cheese, capers (including some immense ones) and diced red onions, of course. Marinated shrimp were particularly tasty, not overcooked and not left overlong in its acidic marinade, which can lead to toughness. Cracked crab legs, too, in manageable portions, which was a surprise. The only odd touch was that someone had tucked a basket of blueberry muffin halves in with the seafood. Good muffins, make no mistake, fresh and full of fruit, but a strange proximity.
The omelet station sits right next to a pleasant pair of hunks of prime rib, so there are plenty of options on rareness. Good bacon, regular and blueberry pancakes, and some above-average French toast mark the breakfast line, along with some banger-esque sausages, links nicely cooked, still quite juicy (as Joe's shirt could attest) and mildly seasoned. Eggs Benedict survived the chafing dish pretty well, although we would've liked a more assertive hollandaise sauce. (Tip: Don't take yours from the center of the buffet pan at any brunch unless you want your muffin dry and your egg heavily cooked.)
The star of the lunch items was a risotto-looking dish that actually contained orzo and those fat little balls called Israeli couscous, all cooked with a mixture of seafood and their juices, with a nice note of saffron. Not gluey at all, squid and mussels and fish all kicked in plenty of flavor. Pieces of pork in pan juices didn't do as well; it was tough, although the juices had good flavor. A couple of pizzas, one meat-free, were also on hand. Keep an eye out, also, for what looks like two platters of hummus, one paler than the other. The hummus proper is quite good, nicely garlicky, and the lighter-colored one is a white bean slather, also assertively spiced. Scoop each of them up with the crunchy strips of pita that have been deep-fried to greaseless perfection.
Desserts? Skip the brick-heavy bread pudding and head for one of the lightest carrot cakes we've ever had the pleasure to meet. Flan is definitely in the Spanish mode rather than the French, much more dense than a crème caramel, but with a nice note of orange and perhaps a little cinnamon.
Servers fly, the coffee is fresh and from a well-scrubbed coffee maker, and, overall, Yia Yia's offers good value for the money.
1601 Olive Blvd., Chesterfield
Credit cards: Yes
Wheelchair access: Good
Smoking: Yes (see above)
Brunch: $20 (adults, with beverage)