The Alestle staff visited six diverse restaurants around the Metro East that are known for their breakfast. We noted the atmosphere, service, taste and price while at each location. See what we found for the most important meal of the day!
Start your day off green at Lulu’s Local Eatery
Lulu’s Local Eatery started as a food truck in 2014, but eventually became a brick and mortar restaurant. When they rolled out a brand new brunch menu in early July, breakfast-loving patrons rejoiced.
The advertised menu features a variety of breakfast staples with one simple twist — every dish served at Lulu’s is 100 percent plant-based.
Upon entering the café, the ever-present line at Lulu’s served as an indicator of the restaurant’s consistently pleasing dishes. The introduction of a brunch menu brought the line further back into the quaint space. Even though the line was long, it moved quickly.
While waiting in line, we noticed the aesthetics were as pleasing as ever: featuring small eye-appealing plants, a gorgeous wall of moss and the most recent local artist displays.
Lulu’s Eatery is a community-driven restaurant if there ever was one. Diverse groups of people were laughing with their friends and families all while eclectic music emitted from the speakers. Mothers and fathers dined with babies strapped to their chests, while business people ate a quick meal during their lunch breaks.
We appreciated the laid-back nature of the service at Lulu’s. All of the staff seem to genuinely love the food and the atmosphere; this is reflected in their friendliness and willingness to offer suggestions for what to order.
There are always a plethora of mouth-watering options at Lulu’s, and their menu is updated often with new selections, making it hard to choose just one meal.
We ordered a latkes Benedict, a classic take on eggs Benedict but with potato cakes, pho egg, fresh avocado and creamy hollandaise sauce. The potato cake was crispy, the tofu eggs were fluffy and the avocado lent a rich and mellow taste, rounding out the dish nicely.
We also enjoyed the kimchi breakfast tacos. Perhaps a risky choice to combine classic American breakfast with traditional Korean food, but the dish knocked it out of the park with a garnish of fresh cilantro and a perfect combination of spicy and savory.
We all shared a breakfast burrito. Lulu’s house-made, plant-based sausage is spicy and meaty, and the organic greens brought a satisfying crunch to the burrito.
We paired the burrito with an earthy, bright Bloody Mary. This mad for a gratifying and full-bodied brunch meal.
All food scraps and leftovers are composted, which is one of the many ways Lulu’s implements sustainability in every aspect of the restaurant.
They also grow their own organic herbs, use 100 percent compostable service ware materials, offer a seasonal menu using foods grown locally during the changing seasons and send only 5 percent, according to their website, to a landfill.
Lulu’s is a participant in the Green Dining Alliance, a program that offers restaurant certification using a five-star tiered system based on the establishments’ sustainability practices. For its efforts, Lulu’s has obtained a five-star rating through the Green Dining Alliance.
While the low prices, creative and approachable menu, tasty food and lively atmosphere already make Lulu’s a classic on South Grand, the restaurant’s commitment to sustainability also makes a beacon for people in the Metro East area. Those who want not only a tasty breakfast, but also want to feel good about what they’re eating should pay them a visit.
LULU’S LOCAL EATERY
3201 South Grand
St. Louis, MO 63118
Rooster - Downtown: it’s so cluckin’ good!
As we walked down Locust Street towards the restaurant, we were surprised by the sheer amount of people we could see enjoying coffee, crepes and conversations inside.
Upon entering the restaurant, we were warmly greeted by the friendly staff, and our hostess snagged us the last available table (it was almost 11 a.m.). We made our way towards our table for two, passing table after table of families, couples and friends enjoying vibrant conversation.
It became very apparent that the Rooster embraces the hustle and bustle atmosphere. Tables are close together and wait times are usually long at Rooster. We’ve heard complaints about less than stellar service from friends, but in our experience, the staff was incredibly helpful and happy to see us.
We sat next to a set of large windows facing North 11th Street, and a large orange and black mural of a Rooster covered the wall in front of us. The restaurant has a more rustic, farmhouse vibe. Drinks are served in mason jars, and fresh flowers decorate each of the tables.
We ordered the Nutella crepe, which came stacked with fresh fruit and finely powdered sugar, alongside the brunch burger which features two hearty biscuit sandwiches both stacked with thick breakfast sausage, locally sourced egg and creamy fontina cheese. It also arrived with a side of crispy breakfast potatoes.
The brunch burger’s biscuit bun was very filling. While a little dry on its own, when combined with smooth egg yolk and the mild, buttery flavor of fontina cheese, the bun becomes a treat in its own right. The sausage patty was flavorful and chewy and really pulled the sandwich together. The breakfast burger was an absolute treat to eat and the fact that you are given two is just an added bonus.
The only downside was the side of breakfast potatoes, which were cold when they arrived at the table. The portion we received was also on the smaller side; however, this was acceptable to me since the breakfast burgers were so filling.
The Nutella crepe was delicious. The hazelnut spread was sweet, savory and nutty. The pancake wrapping was soft and warm. The banana and strawberry toppings provided a nice contrast to the chocolaty flavor, and the powdered sugar provided a nice finishing touch without being overpowering.
In addition to great food, Rooster has a great mission. Since its founding in 2006, Rooster has been committed to locally sourcing their ingredients from farms around Missouri and Illinois. Rooster’s website says, “Our farm-to-table mission is something we highly value. We love partnering with local farms in the Missouri and surrounding Midwest region. Thanks to them, our eggs, meat and produce are fresh, ethically raised, and locally sourced whenever possible.” Needless to say, they sound very fortunate to be able to provide such delicious food to the surrounding area using locally sourced ingredients.
Although Rooster can get crowded at times, their diverse selection of breakfast foods are delicious enough to keep eager eaters lining up throughout the week. Rooster is a perfect place to grab a bite before starting a new adventure in St. Louis.
1104 Locust St.
St. Louis, MO 63101
Here comes the sun: Sgt. Pepper’s is a big hit
With old-fashioned, Beatles-themed décor and a cheese sauce that should be a controlled substance, Sgt. Pepper’s Café is a great choice for breakfast in Edwardsville.
Sgt. Pepper’s Café opened in 2005, owned by SIUE alumnus Tarek Samara. It moved to Main Street in 2011, operating and surviving in a stretch that includes at least a dozen other restaurants, many of which compete for the breakfast and lunch crowd across from the courthouse.
The retro style includes the décor, with the natural brick walls of the historic Main Street building adorned with Beatles photos and album art. The music is solidly ‘60s, with other classic rock tunes interposed between the Beatles’ parade of hits.
It was a Thursday morning, but well after the early rush before the businesses open, so the crowd was light and we were seated immediately. The staff was friendly and attentive, but not intrusive.
First order of business for breakfast is, as always, coffee. Sgt. Pepper’s has a basic blend that is tasty but a little on the weak side.
Coffee is coffee, but since Sgt. Pepper’s is located across the street from caffeine queen Sacred Grounds and up the street from the multiple varieties at 222 Artisan Bakery, the coffee does pale in comparison.
We ordered the ponyshoe, distinguished from the horseshoe by its smaller quantity. For those unfamiliar with this Midwestern delight, it is a slice of Texas toast, layered with some kind of meat or protein, covered with a mountain of fries or other form of fried potato and topped with gravy or cheese sauce.
We chose the breakfast ponyshoe with bacon and eggs, the square-cut country potatoes, and the spicy cheese sauce. In the past, we’ve tried the grilled chicken or shredded beef, both of which were decidedly tasty. But the breakfast ponyshoe might be our new go-to dish.
We were literally scraping the dish for every molecule of sauce. It’s a white cheese sauce that has just enough spice to be at the limit for a spice wuss, or quite mild for a spice aficionado.
We also requested a small cup of the sausage gravy, which was surprisingly flavorful and filled with small granules of ground sausage. The third alternative is a yellow cheddary-cheese sauce, which we did not get to try.
Note: one can order their horseshoe with two sauces, but if they ask for a side cup, it’s going to run them another $1.99. The waitress didn’t mention it and we didn’t think to ask, but if we’d known, we’d have skipped it.
We also ordered the pancake platter. These aren’t the basic Denny’s flatcakes — they were very thick, almost like Japanese hotcakes, browned to almost-crispy on the outside and still soft and fluffy on the inside. There’s a pleasant vanilla undertone, assisted by a scattering of optional chocolate chips.
The eggs that came with the pancake platter are real and taste like real eggs, which is a nice change of pace from the usual reconstituted diner eggs. The sausage links were acceptable, and the syrup was the standard thin maple-liquid.
In all, Sgt. Pepper’s can run as little as $7.99 for a meal, though our choices were more in the $9.99 range. It was hearty and filling, tasty and occasionally exceptional, so for those who like their diner food with a side of Beatles, Sgt. Pepper’s is the place to be.
SGT. PEPPER’S CAFE
218 N. Main St.
Edwardsville, IL 62025
Find them on Facebook!
The Egg & I sizzles up a satisfying breakfast
Last year, one of our staff members’ family took a trip to Colorado. On their return, they set out to find the closest Egg & I, which is in O’Fallon, Missouri.
If one isn’t a breakfast fan, maybe this Metro East Eats won’t be their favorite. Because we have heard non-breakfast fans gush over The Egg & I, we had high expectations for it.
For those who don’t remember, Saturday was a few days into the excessive heat warning that scorched Edwardsville. Because the restaurant was so crowded, we had to wait outside. We saw people shuffling in and out, but all who were leaving had big smiles on their faces. That made waiting outside in the heat a little more bearable.
After a 20-minute wait, we were seated at a table near the front, with a wall separating us from the rest of the restaurant. The light wood table and big, matching chairs are reminiscent of something that would be seen in an old woman’s kitchen. The decor matched the aesthetic: tan walls, artwork comprised of crimson, olive green and more tan. The appearance was mediocre, nothing spectacular.
Yet, it was oddly comforting. Families gathered, and the collective chatter made it hard to hear whatever music was playing.
The punch their Pineapple Tonic packed snapped us out of our sleepiness. Pineapple, orange, cucumber, lime, organic ginger and coconut water combined to make one tart concoction. It was a bit too tart, but nothing two sugar packets couldn’t fix.
The strawberry-banana waffles did not disappoint. The Belgian waffle was cooked as perfect as a waffle can be; it wasn’t burned at all, and the tartness of the strawberries was balanced with bananas and whipped cream. We could tell it hadn’t been sitting, as the waffle was warm and caused the whipped cream to melt, creating a gooey center of goodness.
The Cambridge skillet was satisfying, despite having too many potatoes. Our waitress made sure the eggs were cooked exactly how we ordered them, showing the restaurant really cares about their customers’ happiness.
In fact, everybody was super friendly, especially our waitress Nicky and the girl at the register. Even though the restaurant was crowded, they didn’t seem stressed at all. The girl at the register told us she loved her job, and we could tell as she sent every customer off with a smile.
According to an article published in the Belleville News-Democrat, The Egg & I will close for a week in early September and reopen as a First Watch, their parent company.
So, plan a trip to The Egg & I before it’s gone!
THE EGG & I
991 Waterbury Falls Drive
O’Fallon, MO 63368
Apple Tree’s food is the apple of our eyes
Apple Tree looks small from the outside, but it’s big and welcoming on the inside. When we first walked in, it hit us that it’s a place to take a family. We noticed the booths on every wall and at least two smiling waitresses immediately.
We got there around 8 a.m. on Friday, and it was pretty busy. It has a very specific atmosphere that is unlike others in the area. And it certainly is not the place to play on your phone; it’s more of a place to talk over coffee and enjoy some company. Everyone seems to run into somebody they know — it’s very much a niche place in Granite City.
Before picking up a menu, get a coffee. They have creamer and sugar aplenty at the tables, and waitresses are always walking by with a pot for easy refills. It’s not strong but it’s the good stuff, the kind made at home during early mornings.
On the downside, Apple Tree’s selection isn’t very diverse. The menu is only a few pages long, and at first, the breakfast options seemed very limited to us.
After staring at the menu for a while, we realized they had breakfast specials above the condiments. For breakfast, make sure to skip the menu and find the little card with the specials!
The little side menu has staple breakfast combos at fair prices. One could get a full country fried steak with hash browns, toast and eggs for less than $7. The main menu is considerably better for lunch or dinner foods.
The specials really stand out and are one of the menu’s highlights. One of our meals was a biscuit with gravy, hash browns, scrambled eggs with cheese and a side of bacon. The food was not anything gourmet, but it’s the place to go when in need of a home-cooked meal.
We also got the country-fried steak. Right away, we noticed the smell: fresh and delicious, and it tasted how it smelled. It was juicy and had the perfect amount of salt and pepper. It’s honestly one of the best country fried steaks we’ve tried in the area.
Also, on can expect a good experience with the staff. No one dedicates themselves to any one table. The waitresses float from table to table filling drinks and checking on the customers. They are very smiley and willing to have conversations, adding to the homey feel.
Overall, Apple Tree is great for what it is — a family restaurant. The service was good. The vibe was good. The food was good. The secret is all in finding the right menu.
This is the place to be when grandma’s house is too far. We won’t order eggs at any other restaurant again, and think our readers shouldn’t either.
APPLE TREE FAMILY
3717 Nameoki Road
Granite City, IL 62040
Find them on Facebook!