Cafe Rustica, 414 E Main St., Richmond
Karisa: If we had a leader-board for most family members who have joined us for brunch, I would currently be out in front. My mom joined us last March, and my favorite Aunt Dallas (Mom's sister) joined us this week! This was actually my aunt and my second brunch of the weekend. We gave Millie's another shot on Saturday, and (sadly) had another 3 experience. I just don't get the hype. Oh well.
Fortunately our experience at Cafe Rustica was a much better brunch to end the weekend. We were all pleased with the extensive list of champagne concoctions to choose from, which included sparking rosé and standard options. I chose one of the rosé options (because who doesn't like pink colored bubbly?) which was served Richmond style and served as a nice alternative to the standard mimosa. There weren't a ton of vegetarian options on the menu, but one of the specials was an omelette with brie, asparagus (I think?), and rosemary, so I went with that. With all of our documented cases of omelette dryness, I was a bit nervous, but it turned out to be wonderful! Brie just makes everything better. The mashed potato cake was surprisingly good too, especially with a little sriracha. The only strange part was the toast seemingly thrown on top. There wasn't anything to sop up, and there wasn't anything to spread on top. Whatever, I won't turn down extra carbs. Good meal, tasty drinks, wonderful company. Two thumbs up.
Andrea: I've had a few really good meals at Cafe Rustica before, so I was excited to put some yummy food in my belly this week. I ordered the Mediterranean shortstack "swanky egg dish style", which was two cakes with shrimp, scallops, and crab with poached eggs and hollandaise on top. The cakes were all seafood with little bread filler. The eggs were perfectly done for me, and I can't say enough good things about the hollandaise...it was lemony to complement the seafood cakes, but also on the lighter side so I didn't feel like I was eating something that was super bad for me. My sparking beverage du jour a concoction of rose sparkling wine and pomegranate juice. I don't remember its name, but it was mighty tasty! I (figuratively) licked my plate clean by wiping up the remaining hollandaise and eggy yumminess with the crusty rustic bread that accompanied my meal. Lovely. Felt full but not uncomfortably so. Although the food took a while to come out, the wait was worth it and allowed us to chat more with a guest bruncher (Karisa's aunt!). I definitely look forward to coming back and trying some more things on the menu (or perhaps I'll just stick with the shortstack. It was THAT good.)
Michele: I've had dinner at Cafe Rustica once, several years ago when my sister was in town. We sat at the bar of this tiny restaurant and both enjoyed great seafood dishes. I had no idea that they serve brunch until Andrea suggested it for this past week. The restaurant is just as tiny as I remember. I would use the word simple to describe it rather than rustic.
Cafe Rustica does not have a liquor license, so no Bloody Mary for me this week. I selected a Naughty Sister instead, and to be honest, I don't remember much about it other than it had champagne in it. Karisa had one too, so I'll rely on her to describe my drink in more detail. The coffee was wonderful, a special Cafe Rustica blend from Richmond's own Blanchard's Coffee Company.
For my meal this week I decided on the Rustic Skillet. The dish consists of two sunny side up eggs, a hash of potatoes, sausage, and onions, and a thick piece of toast. The dish is very simple, but also very tasty and satisfying. It arrived on a personal sized cast iron skillet. The toast was large enough for me to soak up all of the egg yolk, a very important toast quality that sometimes gets overlooked by restaurants. The potato pieces were cooked perfectly -- brown and firm on the outside, nice and soft on the inside. The sausage slices were a little chewy, but they were tasty and complimented the other simple ingredients. My only disappointment with this dish is that for some reason I expected more vegetables. Nothing on the menu suggested extra vegetables, but for some reason I got that in my head.
Our server worked triple duty by acting as bartender and hostess in addition to waitressing. She skillfully juggled all of the front of the house activities. Overall we had a lovely experience at Cafe Rustica. I will definitely pay another visit to this charming and cozy little spot.
Kathy: I'd been to Cafe Rustica for lunch a few times, but never before for brunch. At first I was disappointed to see a few of the same lunch items on the brunch menu, but I put aside that concern as soon as our friendly waitress described the quiche. It was light and fluffy, and not even close to dry, with tomato and bacon. The only downside was that there was a bit too little tomato and bacon mixed in for my taste. The quiche came with a mashed potato side that seemed pan fried, and airy, almost like the whipped potato. While I'm not exactly sure how they made it, it was so delicious I didn't even care to ask questions. The mimosas were delicious, and they offered quite a few different creative and unique mixes. Mine came served in a proper champagne flute, like I prefer. I was also pleased by the tea - served in a huge cup and promptly refilled without my asking, including a wide selection of teas. Mostly I like Cafe Rustica for the ambience - while a bit quiet inside, it's cozy. I'll keep going here for lunch, and now will add it as a go-to for brunch as well.
Food - Very Good. No omelette dryness! Andrea thought that the hollandaise was the best she can remember - very lemony and not too heavy. All of the food was well prepared and tasty, although Michele felt like her meal selection was a little plain. There were some interesting options to choose on the menu, but they do tend toward the more lunchy items.
Service - Good. The server took a little while to come over to our table to get our order. The kitchen was rather slow preparing our food as well. However, when it finally came out, it was very well plated and well prepared, so totally worth it!
Atmosphere - Good. A bit dark and intimate with the lighting. Bathroom upstairs is tiny but the sink area has lots of charm. Space isn't really conducive to loud conversations - more of a chill, relaxed vibe.
Coffee/Tea - Good/Good. The first cup of coffee (Blanchard's coffee) was cold for at least one of us, but the flavor was good and the refills were prompt. Kathy was happy with the wide tea selection, but wished that she had been given a pot of water rather than just a cup. However, it was a pretty, large cup.
Assorted Bubbly Beverages - Very Good. Plethora of options of sparkling beverages, and priced well ($5). Tasty, but some of the options that came over ice had too much ice for at least one of our brunching party :)
Bloody Mary - Unrated. Cafe Rustica does not have a liquor license.