Where: Brasserie by Niche (4580 Laclede Avenue; 314-454-0600)
When: Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
We Tried: The brioche French toast with lemon curd ($8) and the quiche du jour ($8)
The Verdict: To some, weekend brunch is an exclusively American pastime. We congregate to restaurants because we don't feel like cooking and indulge in one too many Bloody Marys. However, Brasserie by Niche puts a French twist on an American tradition, taking standard brunch fare to a new level.
We decided to start with the brioche French toast, lured by the description of a lemon-curd topping. The toast arrived piping hot and tasted just the way good French toast should: a flaky, slightly crispy outer crust, and a moist, cinnamon-y, custard-soaked center. The pieces were small, but perhaps this was a good thing; the generous dollop of sweet lemon curd was enough of an indulgence. The entire dish was sprinkled with powdered sugar and served with a small cup of maple syrup. We found the syrup to be a nice, but not altogether essential addition to the dish.
After consuming more sugar than the average person should, we decided to try a more savory plate: the quiche du jour. Our waiter told us that the quiche had bacon, roasted potatoes, Gruyere, chicken and spinach, and we were enticed by the inventive blend of ingredients.
Unlike the French toast, we were served a hearty slice of quiche, which came with a mixed green salad topped with hazelnuts and a honey-shallot vinaigrette. The quiche crust was flaky and buttery, the melted Gruyere was slightly salty and the eggs had a nice consistency: moist, but not too watery or runny. The quiche was the perfect complement to the sweet French toast and a very authentic representation of a traditional French dish.
For those who are tired of pancakes and scrambled eggs, Brasserie's brunch menu could be just the change you're looking for. The sweet and savory, French-inspired dishes offer the best of both worlds and are a delicious way to start your weekend morning. As you lounge on the restaurant's patio, watching passersby and leisurely enjoying your food, you'll feel as if you're eating at a small French café. And you didn't even need to buy a plane ticket.