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Mortar & Pestle’s Brunch Could Use Some More Eggs

The Lake View newbie needs to adjust their brunch offerings a bit.

Decadent Grilled Cheese at Mortar & Pestle   Photo: Carly Boers

The shtick A brand-spankin’-new brunchery helmed by two Table 52 vets.

The vibe We visited Lake View’s latest arrival on the breakfast/brunch/lunch scene at prime time on a Saturday, less than a week after it opened. The sunny 45-seater was filled to capacity with laidback 30-somethings. The handsome décor is best described as “industrial-Anthropologie”—a little stained glass here, a lot of reclaimed wood there. Be forewarned: There’s about a 50 percent chance you’ll end up at a communal table. 8 out of 10

The food Starters, breakfast, and lunch feature on the compact menu, which the owners call “globally inspired.” If you arrive craving eggs (which, of course you will), you’ll be disenchanted to find that your only entrée options are a traditional English breakfast with all the fixin’s or an Alaskan king crab Benedict (curiously, this was sold out by 10:30 on the day we dined).

We readjusted our plans for something eggy and dug in with a few starter items. Creamy bircher muesli ($7) with bright berries and brûléed banana chunks was a surprising stunner. A heap of vanilla bean–flecked pancakes topped with orange- and thyme-infused butter was a steal at $7—and the tender ‘cakes are reminiscent of Southport Grocery’s bread pudding stack.

The splurge—both gluttonously and, at $15, monetarily—was the aptly named Decadent Grilled Cheese. It’s an oozy, sophisticated beauty (for grilled cheese), unapologetically combining pungent tallegio, nutty comté, aged cheddar, avocado, tomato, and Nueske’s bacon between perfectly toasted bread. We kept swearing it was our last bite…until there were no bites left to be had. 7 out of 10

The drinks Once the restaurant secures a liquor license, you can expect a few craft cocktails, plus mimosas and Bloody Marys. Since it was still BYO on our visit (and we arrived bottle-less), we sipped juice. Disappointingly, both orange and grapefruit tasted fresh-from-the-carton instead of freshly squeezed. (We’ll refrain from rating since the alcoholic drinks weren’t yet available.)

The service Missteps began immediately: The 10-minute wait we were quoted lagged on for a half-hour. Our server, though pleasant enough, spoke nearly inaudibly, wasn’t up to speed on the menu’s ingredients, and suffered from Disappearing Server Syndrome more than once throughout the meal. And instead of delivering our starters ahead of the main course, she plunked down the whole shebang at once. Since it’s poor form to judge a newbie too harshly, we’ll call it a 6 out of 10 and hope for speedy improvements.

Overall The service needs fine-tuning and the menu—while ambitious—cries out for an omelet. But the owners’ culinary pedigree reveals itself in some truly stellar creations, and we predict a future star on the brunch scene. 7 out of 10

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