Amuse-Bouche: Olga’s Cup and Saucer (brrrruuuunch)

Olga's at a meteorologically happier time

Of all meals, brunch is arguably the one most perfectly suited to college students. First of all, it’s eaten late, which means those of us who sleep in and miss the breakfast train can still revel in the best things breakfast has to offer. Second, later mealtime means lunch foods (and alcoholic beverages) get to come to the party: welcome back, ham and Bloody Mary, we’re so happy to have you. Third, considering you’re eating breakfast AND lunch, the full spread tends to be a pretty good deal.

Correspondingly, there is a plethora of brunch options on campus and beyond. Olga’s is one such place for those who prefer to start the day with a jaunt: it’s a 10-minute walk from Coffee Exchange, a straight journey that does involve changing street names and traversing bridges. When the weather’s nice, umbrella-covered tables are set up in Olga’s white cottage’s charmingly unkempt garden. For now, though, diners stay in the airy dining room inside. What to order, after the jump:

Brunch is served on Saturdays and Sundays from a menu that is well-rounded but not extensive, simple but with a few coy touches. A glaring dearth of pancakes is redeemed by the presence of both sourdough waffles AND brioche French toast. Speaking of French, there’s also the Croque Madame, that glorified grilled cheese with ham and fried eggs that the French cleverly manage to justify at any hour of the day. In the egg department, old standbys like huevos rancheros, toad-in-a-hole, and omelets are all on hand. Then there are poached eggs on grilled cheddar-scallion scones (I repeat: cheddar-scallion scones. grilled.), which defies all prejudices you may have of scones. Similarly yuppy is the grilled polenta + egg, replete with tomato-basil compote (oh, you fancy, huh?).

The cottage also houses a bakery, which supplies a rotating cast of homey artisan baked goods–tarts, croissants, and scones, savory or sweet; cookies and coffee cakes and brownies–are available at the counter. My suitemates and I conducted a taste test of the various cookies, which run the gamut from chocolate chip to lavender butter, and agreed that, while cookies are cookies and cookies are excellent, they’re nothing special. If you want a baked treat to take with you, Olga’s famous bread loaves are your safest bet.

With all the dishes running just under $10, brunch isn’t cheap, but it certainly isn’t outrageous, either. Portions are reasonable (though you probably won’t be lugging home any to-go boxes), as is the service, whose hipster-heavy waitstaff is warm at best and snippy at worst–homegirl at the bakery counter gave me some ‘tude when I ordered my cookies. Still, it tends toward relaxed and professional, which complements the casual atmosphere and food.

High: When you wake up at noon on a Saturday jonesing for poached eggs and bottomless coffee, Olga’s is a reliable purveyor whose darling garden and neighborhood are a welcome change of scenery.

Low: Solid though most things are, it’s unlikely that any of them are mind-blowing.

Bottom line: For all brunchly virtues, Olga’s falls pretty near the middle. Price-wise, service-wise, and quality-wise, you can count on it being good, not great.

(Full disclosure: Olga also serves weekday lunch; I just haven’t tried it.)

Want to come along on these outings? Want to have dinner on campus but send me to scope out that restaurant people won’t stop talking about? I’m always looking for feedback. Email me at remy_robert@brown.edu for restaurant requests or a dinner-out calendar.

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