North End Cafe, Louisville KY

On this gorgeous sixty something degree Saturday morning in February (how often do you get to say that in the Midwest), hubby and I ventured down to Louisville for some weekend brunch. North End Cafe is in a cute little neighborhood along Frankfort Avenue with these great low stone walls. Although you have to walk around past a few other doors if you park on the street, there is a little parking lot right next to the main entrance.

We were seated fairly quickly in a little booth near the bar and able to peruse the menu and specials. Our waitress came got our drink order and when she returned we were able to ask a few more questions before ordering.

We stayed simple on drinks this time around, just coffee and water. The coffee didn’t really peak my interest at first. The more I drank it however, the more I enjoyed the subtle bright notes within my cup. The coffee at North End Cafe has a nice smooth blend, with a little citrus to it somewhere that was rather enjoyable. As I’ve said before I think good coffee is essential to any good brunch place. Although we had a bit of a wait for our food (we ordered a lot) the nice cup of joe to sip on made it much more pleasant.

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After chatting about some upcoming travel plans and our work, hubby and I got all our yummy looking dishes. First up, my half order of Vegetarian Mushroom Biscuits and Gravy was super tasty. The gravy had a good cream of mushroom soup flavor over a great little buttery (and square) biscuit. Definitely a solid option in general, but really nice if you’re looking for a hearty vegetarian option. Hubby (who is not generally a Biscuits n’ Gravy kind of guy) really enjoyed the change of mushroom flavor used in this interpretation. The half size is perfect if you just want a little Biscuits and Gravy with the rest of your brunch too.

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My other half-order of the Orange Spiked French Toast had a great textural balance and taste. The exterior was beautifully golden and crispy while the interior stayed custardy and soft. The orange came through subtle and bright while the warm spice played gently in the background rounding out the composition. The french toast does come dry (I’m sure so you can fix it to your liking), but it doesn’t leave this dish feeling as complete as similar ones in other restaurants. To scale it up  or finish it I feel it might need some kind of orange marmalade or a lightly spiced syrup to top it and really make it more thoughtful dish.

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*A little side note/tip on half orders: As we’ve been brunching so hard, I’ve learned that one of the best things I can do is ask if there are any items you can get a half order of on the menu. This saves you money and still allows you ample things to try while not feeling like a total pig. That doesn’t mean we don’t still brunch hard though, just smarter. Even with two half orders at this meal we still ended up taking about two boxes (or one super packed box worth of food) home.

Now back to North End Cafe.

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I’ve really enjoyed Chilaquiles at other places before, so I was looking forward to trying North End Cafe’s version. Sadly the Chilaquiles I ordered here were a bit lacking. The flavors were not bad, but they didn’t really make enough of an impact to wow me either. The dish kind of begged for some guacamole or more fresh pico to really save it. Although I admire the attempt to use house fried tortilla chips, they weren’t drained properly just felt a bit oily and way too soggy to get the proper textural experience the dish claims. After a few bites I really started to wish I had gotten the Migas I’d been thinking about instead. It’s rare that I don’t finish or take home a dish, but this was one where hubby and I left at least a third on the plate. If you are really looking for Chilaquiles, you would do much better with Silver Dollar’s offering just up the street.

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Hubby was able to order his Breakfast Sandwich (eggs scrambled) with Parmesan Rosemary Garlic Fries. The sandwich itself had a lot of soft fluffiness between the eggs and bread, but not much to contrast in texture or flavor. I’m sure the pico would have been great, but it is not really hubby’s thing and the salad greens just felt sort of random. A nice cheese, grilled vegetable or breakfast meat option or even changing up the bread with something more flavorful or crusty would probably make this a better contender. The Rosemary Garlic Fries however were pretty great. They were of the thinner variety, but had a nice range of short and long as well as crisp and slightly soggy fries in the collected mound. The nice bits of garlic and parmesan were super tasty and the rosemary did not overwhelm instead working nicely with the rest of the elements.

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These tacos were a great deal at $5 a pair. I got the Vegan Taco and hubby mostly took care of the regular Breakfast Taco after offering me a bite. The Breakfast Taco was perfectly adequate, although hubby thought it had a bit too much potato. I think if the potatoes had more of latin flare in their seasoning it might not have been so bothersome as their texture was good. I think my Vegan Taco was the better of the two as far as taste goes with much better seasoning and heat. All the fresh ingredients from the guacamole to the pineapple really made this one of the best things I tried at North End Cafe. Sometimes keeping it simple is the best option.

This spot seems a great place to bring your folks or extended family (or really any sizable group) when they come to visit as the menu suits a variety of tastes or diets. There truly is something for everyone on this menu, and I’d dare to say I liked the vegetarian and vegan options better than my carnivorous ones.

The service is adequate and atmosphere clean and classic, but the prices are probably the highest selling point for this cafe.

I hope you enjoyed this post and that your weather was as beautiful as ours. Until next time keep trying new places and brunching hard.

Today’s featured brunch: North End Cafe, 1722 Frankfort Ave., Louisville, KY, 40206

 

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