A lifetime ago — OK, seven years — I reviewed Lunch, noting that it was time smart eaters turned their sights to Scott's Addition because Lunch had the potential to put the obscure neighborhood on the radar for Richmond foodies.
It wasn't a stretch, either, because other than Richmond Triangle Players, which had recently transformed an old radiator shop into a state-of-the-art theater, Lunch was the freshest thing to happen in Scott's Addition for decades.
What a difference those years make. After Lunch came Supper, larger and right next door, an early pillar in the transformation of Scott's Addition from obscurity to overhyped. So it's refreshing to see that owner Rick Lyons has put down roots elsewhere this time, opening his latest eatery, Brunch, at Main and Robinson where Starlite Dining and Lounge used to be.
The renovation renders the space brighter and more welcoming, with three skylights over a long community table and a rose-patterned mural wrapping around the ample bar. Vases of fresh flowers and herbs adorn each table that, along with hanging planters and window boxes, enliven the space. Morning light streams through the Robinson Street windows, though the music has to compete with loud conversation and the sounds of city buses lumbering by.
If you need proof of how inviting Brunch is, you need only show up on a Saturday at 1 p.m., where I was told the wait was an hour and a half. That's Millie's-worthy, and it's an institution. Tellingly though, weekdays aren't much easier. A Thursday at 11:15 a.m. finds every table except two occupied, while a Wednesday just before noon means there are a few more open, but by 12:30, there's a line of 15 people waiting for a table. Pro tip: Time your arrival wisely.
Portions have always been generous at Lunch and Supper, and at Brunch, they feel even grander. Ditto the menu, which runs to eight pages and includes kids' offerings. Noteworthy is a chicken and bubbles special ($50) which is only available Mondays through Thursdays and gets you four cans of prosecco and six pieces of fried chicken. Talk about your perfect date night. There's also a Scrubs special ($10) available to health care professionals Mondays through Fridays with hospital ID.
It wouldn't be 21st century brunch without avocado toast ($11, with egg $12.50) and Brunch jazzes it up with the addition of confit tomatoes, pickled red onion, pepperonata, microgreens and everything bagel seasoning on sourdough. Filling, flavorful and different enough, it's a solid starter.
For something racier to kick things off, there are the brunch links ($10), pancake-battered house sausage with spicy maple syrup, spicy honey butter and powdered sugar. Our server offers the option of regular syrup, too, an indication perhaps that not everyone appreciates so much spiciness to start.
I can't be the only one who considers a Monte Cristo ($12, with egg $13.50) a brunch mainstay. But unlike the classic preparation with a filling of ham, turkey and Gruyere grilled between egg-battered slices of bread, here slices of French toast are used as the bread. So instead of a gooey, grilled sandwich, you'll be eating cold meat and unmelted cheese between slices of French toast with a thick layer of fruit compote atop it all, as if to address the sandwich's dryness. I'll pass.
Of the four varieties of eggs Benedict, we opt for the smoked salmon cake bennie ($14), a monster layering two nicely seasoned salmon cakes with slices of grilled tomato, caramelized red onions and fresh dill hollandaise, which was inexplicably spicy, and served with dill Dijon hash browns to cool our mouths. Delicious, though you may need a siesta afterwards.
As a devoted fan, I'm thrilled to see chicken and waffles ($20) make the main dish menu, as much because it includes both a fried chicken breast and thigh as for the bacon-infused waffle. Brunch's version also features a thick layer of sausage and bacon gravy, but it's disappointing that the chicken pieces are boneless, information I'd have expected to be reflected on the menu. There is a difference.
The heft of these last two dishes is what sparks me to inquire of our server if anybody ever finishes all their food. "Yeah," she says slowly, deliberately. "But rarely."
It's clear that the Brunch crew wants you to have fun. At our early Thursday lunch, we see bottles of bubbles going to two nearby tables and it's not even 11:30 a.m. On Wednesday morning, the sign out front touts a snaquiri, a $5 snack-sized daiquiri. Unlike the overgrown food portions, I'm betting those get finished every time.
Another strong point is a well-trained service staff — even the food runners display good attitudes — and plenty of them. Just as impressive is Brunch's dedication to local sourcing, from Autumn Olive Farms sausage to Back Creek Farms syrup to Supper's own homegrown vegetables and herbs.
Brunch is Lunch on steroids and its fans have already found it. Snaquiri, anyone?
Sundays-Mondays 7 a.m. - 4 p.m.,
Tuesdays - Saturdays 7 a.m. – 10 p.m.
2600 W. Main St.