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January 23, 2013

Where will we go for brunch now?

Now that Lynn's is closed ...

At least a few million megabytes of social media and a wastebasket full of old-media newsprint have surely been spilled over the recent startling and sudden demise of Lynn’s Paradise Cafe.

I don’t see much point in adding more to that flood, other than to note that we may yet be hearing more about the weird tipping and servers-vs.-management dispute that broke into public view a few days before proprietor Lynn Winter yanked the keys out of the restaurant’s ignition and shut ’er down.

But let’s not get into the who, what, when, where and why of all that right now. A larger question looms: “Where in the heck can we go for Sunday brunch now that Lynn’s is gone?”

For that question, I have good news: There are plenty of great brunch options in this food-loving burg, and quite a few of them have been unceremoniously eating Lynn’s lunch … er, brunch … for years. Still, Lynn’s had remained a popular choice for locals and, thanks in part to Lynn’s media savvy, for Food Network reporters like Bobby Flay and Guy Fieri, who made it an obligatory stop whenever they were in town. What will those guys do now? What will we do now?

Two old (or new) standards

First, let’s look at three good options that offer a brunch experience akin to Lynn’s, without the tchotschkes.

Toast on Market (toastonmarket.com) boasts locations on two different Market streets: 620 E. Market St. in NuLu (569-4099) and 141 E. Market St. in New Albany (812-941-8582). With tasty breakfast options available all day and hearty lunch specials, too, Toast fits into the buzzing NuLu scene — and buzzing downtown New Albany — with good food, fair prices and artsy looks. And its menu tops out at $9.75 (for steak and eggs or a grilled steak salad). Try matching that at Lynn’s.

Verbena Cafe (verbenacafe.com) might fill a Lynn’s-shaped space in the hearts of suburbanites. It’s at 10639 Meeting St. in Norton Commons (425-0020).

Wild Eggs (wildeggs.com) generally boasts weekend lines as long as Lynn’s at all three Louisville locations — Westport Village at 1311 Herr Lane (618-2866), 3985 Dutchmans Lane (893-8005) and 153 English Station Road (618-3449). Its bright robins-egg and scrambled-egg decor has the look of a well-planned chain (and I suspect that eventual chaining is in management’s mind), but hospitable service and first-rate fare bespeaks the benefits of local ownership.

We dropped by Wild Eggs and couldn’t find a thing to complain about, putting away a good-size platter of chile verde huevos rancheros ($9.99, a warm stack of tortilla, eggs, green chili, sour cream and pico de gallo, with well-fashioned sides of black beans, and red-skinned and Yukon gold skillet potatoes). I’d just as soon have had the tortilla on the side as buried beneath my breakfast, but that’s a minor nit. Potato latkes ($1.99) were appetizingly crispy but a bit greasy. We had no complaints about spicy green chili ($4.79), or a perfect poached egg ($1.50) and hot, strong coffee.

All-you-can-eat brunch

If you want a bountiful buffet brunch, but you’d prefer something a little more upscale than Shoney’s, it’s hard to top the weekly Sunday deal at the Bristol Bar & Grille (bristolbarandgrille.com), which beats Lynn’s for longevity and has added four locations to the original Highlands shop at 1321 Bardstown Road (456-1702). Just $14.95 will buy an adult unlimited access to its Sunday brunch.

Captain’s Quarters (cqriverside.com) offers its fine riverside view and a memorable Sunday brunch including omelets, carving station, fried chicken and much more, $19.95 for adults. It’s at 5700 Captain’s Quarters Road (228-1651).

And speaking of brunch with a view, it’s tough to beat the lavish Sunday repast at Rivue (rivue.com), where there’s no extra charge for the memorable views from the revolving pods atop The Galt House, 140 N. Fourth St. (568-4239).

But wait, there’s more!

Several of my favorite places for dinner can also fill a need for Sunday brunch: The Silver Dollar (whiskeybythedrink.com), 1761 Frankfort Ave. (259-9540); 211 Clover, 211 Clover Lane (896-9570); Selena’s Restaurant at Willow Lake Tavern (selenasrestaurant.com), 10609 Lagrange Road (245-9004); Harvest Restaurant (harvestlouisville.com), 624 E. Market St., (384-9090); Majid’s (majidstmatthews.com), 3930 Chenoweth Square (618-2222); or the “bruncheon” at Hillbilly Tea (hillbillytea.com), 120 S. First St. (587-7350). The excellent Guaca Mole, 9921 Ormsby Station Road (365-4822), has recently added Sunday brunch, and I need to check that out.

And not only that …

To wrap it up, brunch is now offered at the cozy Le Gallo Rosso (legallorosso.com), 1325 Bardstown Road (473-0015), one of my favorite stops for Italian-American family fare. The brunch menu offers a broad choice of midday favorites, featuring more than two-dozen Italian and American options. You can order from the regular menu, too: Mary tucked right into a fine bowl of spaghetti and meatballs ($16).

I chose brunch with a hearty dish of “Mediterranean Eggs” ($6.75), two eggs cooked as you like them, smothered in a dark, intense Italian “gravy” scented with black olives and garlic. A bowl of fruit on the side made it virtuous; two huge, fluffy biscuits were, yes, I’ve got to say it: better than Lynn’s.

Did I miss your favorite? Tell me about it at rgarr@louisvillehotbytes.com.