Mystery Diner in St. Charles: Brunch Cafe tempts appetites with signature fare

Brunch Cafe, marking its fifth anniversary early next year, is one of the restaurants nestled in the First Street development in downtown St. Charles along the Fox River.

Open from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily at First and Illinois streets, it’s known for a wide array of tempting breakfast and lunch items. We had a hard time choosing between sandwiches, panini, salads and wraps, but finally decided to go all out for breakfast despite the lunch hour.

Under the Crepe Expectations portion of the menu, my fellow diner picked the California, filled with scrambled eggs, diced bacon, avocado, spinach, and Jack and cheddar cheese, topped by Hollandaise sauce.

His eyes lit up when he sliced into one of the two large crepes, and saw a generous serving of spinach paired with the other flavorful ingredients, topped lightly with the savory sauce.

I stuck to an old favorite, an omelet featuring ham off the bone with green pepper and onion, dubbed the Mile-High, missing only the cheese of a Denver omelet for this dish with a lighter flavor profile. The vegetables were al dente, and the good-sized bites of ham were delicious and plentiful. For one of my sides, I had the seasoned, cubed potatoes. And for the other, I upgraded to gluten-free pancakes, which were excellent.

Brunch Cafe’s signature draws include custard french toast with kiwi and strawberries, homemade sweet and savory crepes, eggs Benedict varieties, and potato pancakes stuffed with scrambled eggs, diced bacon, cheddar cheese, sour cream and green onion with red pepper garnish. One of the gourmet sandwiches is the apple Gouda melt, featuring ham, Gouda cheese and cranberry mayo on grilled apple bread.

People avoiding gluten will be happy to also find gluten-free bread. And beverages range from espresso and smoothies to mimosa choices and a Bloody Mary.

Patrons are offered several outdoor tables. Indoors, sunlight streams from large windows into two spacious dining rooms with a cheery palette and images of eggs and other culinary staples accenting the walls. The restaurant is part of a building with two parking decks, meaning patrons can avoid the elements and enter directly from the lot via a side entrance to the eatery.

Family-owned, Brunch Cafe has sister locations in McHenry, Huntley, Roselle, Fox River Grove, Addison, Kildeer and Niles, according to the website.

Our server was helpful, and we were pleased to see all the health protocols the restaurant is following, including tall dividers between booths, which also happen to provide a nice privacy perk for conversations.

We capped our meal with a mocha, crowned with sweetened whipped cream atop espresso generously flavored with chocolate. And then for the perfect finish to an enjoyable meal, we took a leisurely stroll along the Fox River.

• The Mystery Diner is a newsroom employee at the Kane County Chronicle. The diner’s identity is not revealed to the restaurant staff before or during the meal. If the Mystery Diner cannot recommend the establishment, we will not publish a review.


WHAT: Brunch Cafe

WHERE: 172 S. First St., St. Charles

HOURS: 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. seven days a week

INFORMATION: 630-940-2814,