Friday, March 17, 2017

Brunching with the Best: French Crust Cafe, Cincinnati

Scrambled eggs on a croissant

Brunch is often dismissed as the bastard step-child of a restaurant, with the lower-level cooks & wait staff slinging over-priced eggs.

But at the French Crust Cafe and Bistro in Cincinnati, Ohio, the owner, Jean-Robert, greeted everyone and made it clear: brunch matters here.
Eggs Benedict from French Crust Cafe

Great cup of espresso
French Crust Cafe is across the street from Findlay Market, Ohio's oldest public market, so it has a high standard. This is evident just in the coffee choices: there is fantastic espresso, individual pots of French press, or delicious regular coffee.

Car and Streetcar

We had wanted to ride the new Cincinnati Bell Connector, a streetcar, to the restaurant, but the 3.6 mile loop goes nowhere near the very suburban area where we stayed. So we parked in Findlay Market's lot, sampled our way around the place, rode the streetcar and looped back to the other side of the market, where the French Crust Cafe stands.

In front of French Crust Cafe
The big, comfortable Jeep Trailhawk we were driving easily fit my in-laws and my daughter; my aging in-laws insist on still driving, but we were able to convince them not to since we only had to pay to park one car ($2 for the whole afternoon -kind of unbeatable). And the streetcar costs just $1 for a two hour pass; it's $2 for all day. Fares are on the honor system; we never had to show our passes. But don't try to ride without one; there are spot checks and you are fined if you don't have a pass.

My jaded New York daughter didn't know what a streetcar was; to her, a "street car" is a junker that you can park on the streets of New York City and not worry about. The electric Cincinnati Bell Connector goes from Over the Rhine to the waterfront, and you can hop on and off.

Happy vegetarian

Eggs Benedict are usually off limits to me, but the FCC version had spinach instead of Canadian bacon. Score! The perfectly poached eggs were served over homemade brioche. Lovely.

Even the scrambled eggs were far above a basic scramble. These had goat cheese and asparagus, and they were ladled over a flaky, delicious croissant. There was even an unexpected side dish of fresh fruit.

Prices are surprisingly gentle: $8.50 for the scrambled eggs, $9 for the eggs Benedict.

Jean-Robert has three other restaurants in Cincinnati. I look forward to the chance to try them. If I can drive a Pacifica minivan, we can fit my husband's aunt and uncle in, too.

Note: Chrysler loaned me a Jeep for this drive. Opinions expressed are my own.

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