Where: La Merise, 2700 E 3rd Ave in Cherry Creek
When: Saturday and Sunday, 10am-3pm
Pros: With wine bottles lining the wall, this slightly hidden Cherry Creek restaurant has a refined atmosphere that makes brunch here feel like a special event. The food is made with care and attention to detail, resulting a meal that shows off the beauty of each ingredient.
Cons: Technique takes time, so this is not the place for a quick bite. And there is the ever-present challenge of parking in Cherry Creek.
Sometimes it’s the small details that make a meal stand out. While it can be fun to go somewhere filled with bright colors and daring ingredients, classic cooking without gimmicks or distractions can be a refreshing experience. At La Merise, Executive Chef Scott Burnham delivers dishes that remind diners why traditional approaches have a timeless appeal.
With a full bar, La Merise offers plenty of drink options, but champagne is the real star of brunch here. Bottles are half off, but the best choice is the bottomless mimosas in either orange or, my favorite option, light and tangy grapefruit. My glass was never empty and the bubbly stuff is always a sure way to get brunch’s most important side dish, conversation, started.
With winter officially here after the first traffic-jam inducing snow this week, soup is becoming a more frequent craving. Though it’s not a typical brunch choice, a bowl of something warm, comforting and full of flavor made for an ideal start to the meal. The French Onion Soup, covered in melty cheese hiding a deep, rich broth did not disappoint. But for something distinctive, opt for the Soup de Jour. The day I visited, I was treated to a silky endive soup that was simple yet addictive. If you’re not in the mood for soup, ask for the Charcuterie Board. Though it’s not listed on the brunch menu, this eye catching collection of meats is perfect for sharing with the whole table as you sip that mimosa.
With a varied selection of crepes and omelets as well as sandwiches, salads and even Steak Frites, La Merise is not short on options to please a crowd. Each is made with care and attention, an approach that is particularly apparent in the fluffy, never-browned omelets. I particularly enjoyed the Mediterranean Omelet with creamy goat cheese, tomatoes, spinach and olives alongside the crispiest, lightest hash browns in town.
The high point of the meal came with a dish I had low expectations for. The Breakfast Pancakes certainly didn’t sounds like something that would be memorable, but I’m so glad I took the Chef’s advice and gave them a try. The size of a small biscuit but with their own unique airy texture, these farmhouse pancakes made with cottage cheese are nothing like the pancake I thought I knew so well. Served with warm seasonal berry compote and crispy bacon, this dish isn’t the sweet, syrupy choice you’re used to, it’s a hearty and satisfying meal.
La Merise takes brunch back to basics without sacrificing the special touches that make dining out a treat for the senses. Both the ambiance and food here are sophisticated yet comforting, resulting in a meal that made me want to stay and sip mimosas well into the afternoon.
All photos by Jackie Collins