BEST SUNDAY BRUNCH Minneapolis 2001 -
It takes a surprising amount of soul-searching to figure out what makes a good brunch. Some people want a buffet the size of a football field. Others feel that a pulpy mimosa is a necessity. Some want a simple atmosphere, others a swanky one. Knowing full well that brunch means different things to different people, we were sweating a bit at picking the best--until we tried erté. Hidden behind the bland brick of one of northeast Minneapolis's many old supper clubs, the dining room is an unexpected gem--high ceilings, wood floors, peppy yellow walls, and a splash of velour leopard-print accents. Tables with parties as small as two or as large as eight are scattered throughout the restaurant, and the clattering plates, chirping conversations, and lilting jazz on the stereo create an unassuming atmosphere. Still, it's quiet enough to have an intimate exchange or read the paper. And then there is the food (sorry, no buffet, but the menu is extensive). The selection is refreshingly eclectic, with everything from steak and eggs ($9) to "Espressoatmeal" (oatmeal steamed in an espresso machine and served with brown sugar, bananas, and raisins, $6). Creative renditions of eggs Benedict--"The Bennys"--are a specialty here: There's the classic ($7), the Newport, which incorporates crab cakes ($9), and the occasional special Halibut Benny (at $9.50, this was the most expensive item on the menu). There are both meat and vegetarian hash and omelets (around $7), as well as slices of lighter-than-air cinnamon-swirl French toast ($5.50), and exquisitely golden and crisp hash browns, served from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.