Brace yourselves, because what follows is an extremely hot take.
Brunch... is good.
You wake up late, roll out of bed, and get together with folks you love to eat too much and drink too much. Then you a.) attack your weekend errands fortified with strength only eggs benny and a bloody-and-beer back can deliver, or b.) succumb to the carbs and return home to sleep it off. It’s so close to being perfect.
But here’s the problem with brunch: It’s almost exclusively served on weekend mornings and early afternoons, during the slim window in which we nine-to-five stiffs are freed from the clutches of our corporate overlords. That means jockeying with all the other bleary-eyed hangover-havers like you to find a parking space or claim a table or request a refill on your pitcher of bottomless mimosas. They are all, somehow, more annoying than you are.
Lines form; waitlists fill; spontaneous plans are all but out. A table for seven? In this economy?
There is, my friends, an easy solution to this problem, and Standish Cafe—open for about a year now on the corner of 38th Street and 24th Avenue in south Minneapolis—has cracked the code like so many eggshells.
Just serve brunch all day, every day.
Whenever its neon sign is lit, from open to close, guests can order anything the cafe serves. Biscuits and gravy at 7 p.m. on a Thursday? That’s a choice you can (and should) make. Brunch Burger at 7 a.m. on a Wednesday? That’s a choice you definitely can make. As for whether you should—well, if you can put down a patty with pepper cheese, fried onions, bacon, and finger-licking bacon jam as the sun rises, then sure! Topped with a ready-to-burst sunny-side egg, served on an English muffin, and delicious as Twin Cities burgers go, Standish’s burger is any-time-of-day-or-week appropriate.
Now, a quick clarification: We’re not talking about breakfast. This is brunch, something distinctly different from the meal that provides the first two letters of its portmanteau. Breakfast you can get at Mickey’s or the Nicollet Diner 24 hours a day year-round—or wolf down over the sink in your boxers. Brunch is a different beast entirely; it’s about leisure, not sustenance, and certainly not convenience. Brunch would never be a sad month-old Clif bar you found under the seat of your Subaru. It should feel somehow special, beyond bacon-and-egg basics, but still comfortable: a delicate je-ne-sais-quoi Standish Cafe understands.
Dishes here are familiar, but feel specific to the place. Take the trio of omelettes on the menu during our last visit: Forager (eggs, wild mushrooms, chicken sausage, Swiss—the favorite), Carnitas (black beans, pepper cheese, avocado, tomatillo salsa—a close runner-up), Chargrilled Veggie (the most comparatively lackluster of the three, but still doing something interesting with mushrooms and yellow zucchini). Sure, a Denver omelette would do ya, but... why does that suddenly sound so boring? Even the most capital-C Classic thing on Standish’s menu, the Southside Standard—eggs, meat, toast, side—can, like anything else served with a side, come with seasoned, just-salty Standish Potatoes, which are ever so slightly better than most home fries.
(Carnitas here are a tender and juicy delight, by the way; if you’re more in the mood for a sandwich, you can find them in the Desayuno Panini, too.)
Another beautiful thing about brunch is that you can eat an omelette the size of your face, then say, “You know what? I think I will round out my meal with a cinnamon roll, thank you very much.” There, Standish Cafe’s “on the sweeter side” menu has the sugary egg accompaniments you crave, with French Toast pancakes (“FTPs”), gooey monkey bread (available by the barrel, for sharing), and Aebleskivers—a delectable Danish dessert that’s almost a doughnut hole, only fluffier and softer, like a buttermilk pancake made into a ball and served warm. (Get these.) There are extremely have-it-your-way pancakes, available gluten-free and with enough potential topping/filling combos to serve as an SAT math problem: chocolate chips, blueberries, bananas, strawberries, apples, raisins, pecans, almonds, peanut butter, house granola, maple syrup, cinnamon honey, triple jam.
The presence of booze is also among the crucial breakfast-vs-brunch distinctions (bloody with brunch = fine, beer with breakfast = are-you-okay-bud texts), and Standish Cafe invites you to order a glass of bubbly or make it a mimosa, with a small but refined wine list of whites, reds, and sparkly stuff. Staying dry? Lately, when it’s available, I’ve been ordering the Standish Winter Coffee: dark-roast coffee, espresso, spicy-sweet seasoning blend, steamed milk, enough warmth and energy to sustain you on the cold walk home.
Executing a menu this large and varied all day long while delivering consistently is no small thing—that’s part of the reason places don’t serve their brunch menu all day long. (Or maybe they think you can’t serve over-easy eggs after the sun goes down, in some sort of Gremlins -like culinary situation.) But in everything from the glistening cream cheese frosting on its cinnamon rolls to the surprising flavor explosion in the Brussels sprout hash, Standish manages to do it, and do it well, in a cozy, neighborhood-y atmosphere that makes it seem effortless (though it can’t possibly be).
Standish is the latest to occupy a footprint that’s been home to a number of other cafes: Pilgrimage, Citizen, and, most recently, Colossal Cafe, which briefly moved to 38th before its Minneapolis location closed last October. But already it feels like a neighborhood staple, like it’s been sitting on that corner (and, during the warmer months, packing out its patio) for decades now.
“Omg that’s like a block from my place, I brunch there every Saturday with the paper like a little old man,” one friend—very much in their twenties—said when I mentioned I’d be writing about this place. That’s the effect a cafe this welcoming, with food this good, can have. Maybe it will bring out the little old man in you too.
You don’t even have to go on a Saturday.
2403 E. 38th St., Minneapolis