July 17, 2002 News & Features » Cover Story



A weekend luxury done right.

"Come on, move it or lose it!" Not something you expect to hear at brunch, but somehow people don't mind so much at Millie's. Each Sunday a crowd congregates outside the funky spot in Church Hill, sipping coffee or bloody marys and awaiting the call. But you'd better be quick or you'll lose your table.

That would truly be a disaster since more unexpected surprises await you beyond the door. Millie's takes a different approach to brunch — to everything, really. With its open kitchen behind the '50s Formica counter, the chalkboard menus and the exceedingly casual waitstaff, Millie's may not be the place to bring grandma. She might not understand the crab-and-egg enchilada with spicy tomato and lime sour cream sauces, but shame on her. The menu is filled with so many creative choices — such as the soft scrambled eggs with lobster, bacon, tomato and mushrooms on puff pastry with hollandaise — that it's not uncommon to plan a return trip even before the food's been ordered. The prices? Very reasonable. If you have seafood in your eggs you'll pay $10.95 for a dish; otherwise, omelets, sandwiches, eggs benny and other egg concoctions will run you $5.50-$7.25. For quality, cost, execution and atmosphere, Millie's by far outshines the competition.

But what if you don't want all that invention? It's a bleak morning and you just want to sit with the paper, some coffee and two eggs over easy, without all the hassle. Then you want to hit the 821 Cafe near Oregon Hill. The mismatched, retro kitchen tables and counter with swivel stools give the place a fun look. It's the kind of place you can walk in with bedhead and not have to worry that you'll be the only one. The menu holds all the basic breakfast staples (for $4 or less) plus some more crafty choices ($4 to $7) like chocolate-chip pancakes, "big fancy grits" with veggies and cheese, and a portabella, brie and spinach omelet. To top it off, you can sleep in; 821 serves breakfast until 3 p.m.

How about those mornings you wake up and need something to soothe your hangover, or you have some friends in town and you want to catch a buzz at brunch in a typical Richmond fan joint? Then you're talking about the Bamboo Cafe. The Bamboo has such a roster of regulars that the restaurant isn't even listed in the phone book. Known for its tangy bloody marys, the menu also encourages the screwdriver, Cape Cod, poinsettia, mimosa or just straight-up champagne for brunch. If your timing is right, you might be able to nab the back table, where two can sit side by side, slightly elevated, overlooking the row of dark-stained booths in the small slip of a restaurant. The menu covers all the brunch bases with most for under $6: egg sandwiches; subs; burgers; one, two or three eggs any style with bacon, sausage or ham; and most notably, 20 choices of things to stuff in your omelet ($4.95). The Bamboo's take on eggs benedict, called eggs blackstone, is a signature. It's two eggs over easy with grilled tomatoes and ham on an English muffin topped with béarnaise ($5.95). The dark interior offers a calm respite from the harsh morning outside. If you don't want to face the day at all, that's OK too: Brunch lasts until 4 p.m. so stick around and try a poinsettia. S


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