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The Winchester’s Brunch Food Is Better than Ever

No need to worry about that change in the kitchen.

Waffles at the Winchester   Photo: Carrie Schedler

The shtickWhat would happen if your neighborhood café went to culinary school.

The vibe There was a brief moment of terror when it was announced that Greg Bastien, chef at beloved neighborhood café the Winchester, would be departing for Michigan and Kinmont’s Duncan Biddulph would be taking his place. We don’t do well with change, but at least it gave us an excuse to revisit this adorable, airy spot that we first reviewed in 2014, where the sunlight streams in on the white-walled, light-wooded interior in the most inviting of ways. It’s bustling at all hours, with groups of girlfriends in slouchy sweaters and yoga pants chatting over lattes sharing bench space with kid-toting families. The look is just as lovely—and as uncomfortable due to hard wood seating—as ever. 7 out of 10

The drinks Good news! The Bloody Mary ($8) we’d so disliked on our initial check-in is much improved, its watery edges filled in with the proper tomato bite. It’s not going to make our list of the city’s best, but it’s a big step forward. Coffee remains excellent. 8 out of 10

The food:Our top concern when we’d learned of the kitchen shuffles was the fate of the spot’s excellent Liège-style waffles, pillowy on the inside with a candy-like exterior crunch. Would they fall victim to a menu overhaul, existing only in our sugar-addled memories? We needn’t have worried—not only are they still around, they’re now lounging in a pool of blueberry sauce and tempered with a spoonful of cream ($9), what the soggy fruit waffles available at your neighborhood IHOP aspire to be.

New to brunch: an expanded selection of composed toasts, including a sweet-savory cherry option with labneh and a healthy grind of black pepper ($8). There’s also an omelet, a classic notably absent on our last visit, with fluffy eggs surrounding surprisingly flavorful tomatoes and a slather of goat cheese ($12). And Baker Miller must relinquish its crown: The Winchester now makes our Platonic ideal of oatmeal ($8), doused with heavy cream and crunched up with chia seeds and ancient grains. It’s virtuous but still feels as comforting and indulgent as lounging under a down comforter in sweats all day.

In short, the spot’s taken a good menu and made it even better. 10 out of 10

The service:Things are about the same as our last visit—mostly solid, though occasionally absent-minded on drink refills and check-ins. Plus ça change. 7 out of 10

Overall We needn’t have worried. The Winchester has kept on its game even after some upheaval—and it’s stepped up a bit, too. 8 out of 10

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