The owners of the two-month-old Aixois Brasserie — chef Emmanuel Langlade and his wife, Megan — learned quickly, and sadly, that downtown diners don't really want a sophisticated French breakfast in the morning. No croissant, no grapefruit brulee, no cafe au lait, no omelet aux jambon et gruyere. So last week, the urban boite at 1006 Walnut discontinued breakfast service.
"There was no business at all," Emmanuel Langlade says. "And I had to have two cooks in the kitchen and every morning. So we're focusing on lunch and dinner only."
Lunch business, says manager Dennis Collins, is getting healthier every week. "We're packed every day, but usually between noon and 1 p.m. We need to let late lunch diners know that we're here."
The Langlades may have nixed the petit dejeuner from the downtown operation, but it's returning to the Brookside location soon. But it's already back on Sundays: For the last six weeks, the original Aixois restaurant in Brookside (251 East 55th Street) has been serving a Sunday brunch — a full brunch with omelets, quiche and French toast — from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
There's still one downtown venue committed to serving an elegant morning meal: The Reserve restaurant in the lobby of the new Ambassador Hotel offers a tasteful array of dishes from 6:30 to 11 a.m. Monday through Friday and from 7 to 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. The breakfast menu features bagel and lox, omelets, buttermilk pancakes, and both an American Breakfast (eggs any style, sausage or bacon, cheese grits, toast and fruit for $10) or a European breakfast (croissant or toast, fresh baked muffins, fresh fruit with hot tea or coffee for $9).
"People are starting to trickle in," says chef Geoffrey van Glabbeek, "and our weekend diners love it. Right now, most of our breakfast business is from the guests in the hotel, and I plan accordingly. The hotel is almost completely booked this coming weekend, so we expect to be busy."
Chef van Glabbeek is creating a brunch menu that he'll introduce in a few weeks. "Right now I'm tweaking six different menus," he says.