Critics' Choice

It's not just that Rye co-owner and chef Colby Garrelts won a James Beard Award this year. It's that Garrelts (whose Bluestem won our "Best Sunday Brunch" honor in 2010) knows the secret of a great brunch. "It's the one meal where a chef has to give people what they want and to give it to them the way they — not you — want it." If Bluestem's morning meal is unabashedly sophisticated and served in a soothing, chic environment, the Rye experience is way at the other end of the spectrum: vibrant, lively, noisy, with a lot of families with youngsters. The menu pays homage to farm food, so things tend to be big, like the handball-sized fried ricotta-peach fritters or the even bigger buttermilk biscuits piled with fried eggs and smothered in a thick gravy generously peppered with Ozark-made Burgers' country sausage. It may be the only brunch in town where you can mix and match fried chicken livers, fried doughnuts, fried spuds and smoked salmon with a bagel on one plate.

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