Pauline’s Café: Popping over for brunch

 

The omelette du jour comes with house made toast, home fries, greens, and fresh fruit.

The omelette du jour comes with house made toast, home fries, greens, and fresh fruit.

If you haven’t spent a Sunday morning at Pauline’s Café in a while, you’re in for a treat. Executive Chef and Owner David Hoene premiered his brunch menu just in time for St. Patrick’s Day. And as Easter approaches, he’s putting the finishing touches on the spring eats. The restaurant is regarded as “contemporary American cuisine,” and the new brunch options are one big spoonful of comfort.

Lemon poppy seed bread shares the spotlight with the house made popovers, the delight of Pauline’s diners.

Lemon poppy seed bread shares the spotlight with the house made popovers, the delight of Pauline’s diners.

Chances are you’ve had a popover. Your grandmother’s cast iron pans still kick around the cupboards. The bits of dough you snagged as a child expanded in your stomach the way they would in an oven. But you still had room for the fresh savory roll. Slather it with jam or dunk it in stew. It’s the first thing to nibble at Pauline’s.

After cycles of ownership, Pauline’s Café maintained its charm. Dark wood paneling warms diners while the private red and gold rooms hint at regality. Pauline’s was established in the 1970s, but Hoene has had his space in the kitchen since 2000. And it’s obviously chef-owned; Hoene’s hand is in every dish. “I try to encourage my chefs to make things that they wouldn’t necessarily eat normally,” Hoene explained. Pauline’s Café offers gluten-free and vegan options on a daily basis, for example. “Right now I’m working on perfecting my gluten-free bread. Most of the baked goods are made in house like the popovers.” Every other day, Pauline’s also whips up two kinds of soups. Sunday they were Lemon Spinach Artichoke and Butternut Apple, the latter appealing to gluten-intolerant diners.

Hoene is also choosy when it comes to food sourcing. Local ingredients from Shelburne Farms cheddar to Arethusa Farm greens in the warmer months are plentiful. Diners are already swooning over the new options at Pauline’s, though. Dishes are renditions of some staple brunch items. A fast favorite, our server explained, has been the Casco Bay Benedict, of which the crab cakes star.

And when Hoene says he’s really excited about the new Chorizo Benedict, try it. Chorizo Sausage, a house made corn muffin, piperade – roasted red pepper and capers – poached eggs, and hollandaise arrived. Hearty, I know, but it’s exactly what you want when you’ve skipped breakfast and gone straight to “hangry.” Still, it wasn’t out of self-defense that we ordered quickly, but for the chef’s promise of taste.

I decided on the omelette du jour. This Sunday it was a three-egg omelette with chevre and salmon. The new spin on lox – this writer’s go-to breakfast choice – was balanced with some fresh greens and fruit.

Whatever you do, start with a Pauline’s popover – before they’re gone! Pauline’s Café, located at 1834 Shelburne Road in South Burlington, serves lunch Monday-Saturday 11:30 am to 2 pm, brunch 10:30 am-2:30 pm, and dinner Monday-Thursday 5-9 pm and Friday and Saturday 4:30-9:30 pm. For reservations, call (802) 862-1081 or visit www.paulinescafe.com. Easter hours: Brunch/dinner 10:30 am-3 pm and dinner 4-7 pm and dinner 4–7 pm.

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