Half & Half (8135 Maryland Avenue; 314-725-0719), St. Louis' newest breakfast and brunch eatery, despite being surrounded by breakfast and brunch giants like First Watch, Companion and the City Coffeehouse and Creperie, is becoming a legend in its own right. The menu offers a wide variety of brunch classics and bottomless refills of the restaurant's signature, freshly brewed coffee.
While it's hard to decide on a favorite item, the restaurant's brioche French toast takes the proverbial cake. French toast is tricky -- you can either get it very wrong, or very right. Bread slices are often drowned in egg, and collapse under the weight of the batter. Or worse -- they end up burned in the frying pan, blackened to within an inch of their life.
Half & Half's French toast, however, is nothing short of perfection. Two thick slices of brioche are lightly fried in egg batter, and while the crusts are crispy and browned, the inside is light and fluffy. A hint of vanilla and lemon zest gives the toast a doughnuty taste, all while retaining an airy texture. And what's French toast without maple syrup? A small cup perches on the side of the plate, inviting you to increase the sweetness at your discretion.
Half & Half isn't flashy. The restaurant is understated, and the menu is printed on notebook-style paper, as if the chef just scribbled the day's offerings. Yet, this simplicity creates the backdrop for real, delicious food, and the Brioche French Toast is a fine example. The toast doesn't pretend or try too hard- and in doing so, it tops our list of St. Louis brunch fare.
Beginning last year, RFT restaurant critic Ian Froeb counted down -- in no particular order -- 100 of his favorite dishes in St. Louis. Now Gut Check has taken up where he left off. Check back frequently as we detail our 100 favorites, and don't hesitate to send us yours, too, either via the comments thread or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
#57: Fish and Chips at Llywelyn's #58: Chicken Kabob at Al Waha #59: Seafood Ravioli at Gian-Tony's Ristorante #60: Raw Veggie Burger at PuraVegan #61: Hot Chick On-a Stick at Fast Eddie's Bon Air #62: Mixed Grill Platter at Flaco's Cocina #63: Arancini From Mangia Mobile #64: Three Coins in the Fountain at the Fountain on Locust #65: Pan-Fried Noodles at Pho Grand #66: Pastelitos at Fritanga # 67: Bento Box at Blue Ocean Sushi # 68: Lamb Burger at The Scottish Arms #69: Crispy Pork Spring Rolls at Bobo Noodle House
#70: Turkey Melt and Field Greens Salad at Schlafly Bottleworks #71: The Vegetarian Platter at Ranoush #72: Vegetarian Meatballs at Lucas Park Grille #73: Sizzling Rice Soup at Hunan and Peking Garden #74: Straw and Hay Pasta at Trattoria Marcella #75: Spaghetti Pomodoro at Babbo's Spaghetteria #76: Shrimp Fajitas at El Matador #77: Vegetable Quesadilla at Chava's #78: Companion Rustic Olive Bread #79: Salt and Pepper Shrimp from Wei Hong #80: Ba-Mee Mhoo Dang at Basil Spice #81: Catfish Platter at the Gumbo Shop #82: Shrimp & Andouille Flatbread at the Shaved Duck #83: Vegetarian Pasta at Terrene #84: Seafood Stuffed Mushrooms at Zia's #85: Legend Club at LeGrand's Market & Catering #86: City Coffeehouse & Crêperie's Nutella-Banana Crêpe #87: Raw Vegetable Lasagna at Scape #88: Quesadilla Azteca from Tower Tacos #89: The Perfect Pear at Foundation Grounds #90: Banh Mi Sandwich from Sweet Art #91: Chicken and Dumplings at Yummies Soul Food Cafe #92: Cuban Sandwich from La Tropicana #93: The Prosperity at Ruma's Deli #94: Cherry Cheese Danish from Missouri Baking Company #95: Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse #96: Egg Salad Sandwich at Township Grocer #97: Cheeseburger and Fries (Extra Crispy) at O'Connell's Pub #98 Mussels & Fries at Brasserie by Niche #99: Beef Taquitos Mexicanos at El Indio #100: Spinach Artichoke Dip at Cafe Eau