by Robin Utz
We were pretty excited when we heard that The Good Pie's (3137 Olive Street; 314-289-9391) Mike Randolph was opening up a brunch and lunch spot named Half & Half (8135 Maryland Avenue, Clayton) this spring. It recently opened in the space last occupied by Manjelou's Pizzeria in Clayton, and we had brunch there to give the food and atmosphere a first look.
Although the dining room is simple and sparse, the menu is anything but. Most of the menu items took standard brunch and lunch fare, such as pancakes, omelets, salads and sandwiches, and offered fun twists and additions to make them more upscale and unique -- like the citrus doughnuts with powdered sugar or steak and eggs with tobacco onions. The coffee menu featured two Kaldi's roasts, and offered an variety of ways to enjoy each.
Gut Check was greeted by a small patio for outdoor dining and a fairly minimalist yet comfortable interior, set by tiled floors and clean white walls. Mason-jar lamps hanging over the large bar were the only significant decorations to complement the bar and open-air kitchen. Despite the bustling staff (owner Randolph was clearly working hard, calling out orders and jumping in to help with the food as needed), the overall atmosphere was bright, airy and relaxed.
We sampled several brunch dishes including the Fried Egg Sandwich, which featured bacon and cheddar with the egg on a brioche bun, as well as the Clara Cakes, which layered raspberry, mascarpone and granola between pancakes. The cocktails weren't available yet, but we're eager to go back and try those soon, especially during Half & Half's power half hour, when they're buy one, get one free from 2 to 2:30 p.m. on weekdays. Half & Half is open 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.