Cibus Brings Brunch To The Mall

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Sunday morning, as downtown restaurants were brimming with Super Bowl brunchers, the Man O' The Hour and I headed north into the sweet, consumerist bosom of North Park Center. There, we grabbed a booth at Cibus, the Lombardi family eatery with a lovely view of the Louis Vuitton store. But eggs and booze trump stupid purses any day.

With fond remembrances of the last Lombardi family brunch we'd eaten at Penne Pomodoro in Lakewood, the MOTH and I were anxious to see what the higher end of Italian brunch would have to offer. The restaurant was flush with orange accents--well, if giant, orange plastic chandeliers count as accents--and nearly empty when we arrived just after 11 a.m. to find waiters speculating as to whether the Super Bowl would bring out the crowds or keep them home.

Our server's demeanor was kind but somewhat infantilizing. I understand it might be gauche in a pseudo-fancy place to ask if y'all are ready to order, but hearing "Have we decided what we would like to eat this morning?" makes me want to ask for a sippy cup. The fact that we got carded ordering Bloody Marys didn't help things.

Our drinks arrived with big, red straws, which felt a little Chuck-E-Cheese after the whole "royal we" thing, but there was nothing juvenile about their taste. Cibus spices up regular old Zing Zang with Tabasco sauce and fresh lemons and limes, then adds an extra lime garnish with a green olive. At $7.25 each, they certainly seemed pricey compared to last week's $2.50 Bloodys at Monica's, but they were big and thick and, well, we were drinking across the yard from a Barney's, so there you go. (The restaurant offers bottomless Bellinis and Mimosas for $7.50 with purchase of an entree, if fruity booze is more your thing.)

The Cibus brunch menu is small but thoughtful--details like polenta Benedicts, vanilla French Toast and truffle oil on pan-fried eggs add excitement to otherwise fairly traditional offerings. The Man O' The Hour ordered the Cibus Benedict, with the aforementioned polenta, and I asked for the Eggs Al Forno, featuring the aforementioned truffle oil.

Though the MOTH said he's "not usually a big polenta fan," the Cibus take on the classic dish--polenta, crab, poached eggs and Parmesan cream sauce--"came close" to beating the usual biscuit-and-ham serving. He complained that the crab was either so bland as to be totally blended into the dish, or non-existent, though the eggs were "nice and runny." This morning he told me he's "still thinking about that French toast" and "wishing I'd pulled the trigger on my first instinct."

As for the Eggs Al Forno, pan-fried eggs have rarely been so delicious. Drizzled with truffle oil--which I intend to make a regular part of my own home breakfast traditions from now on--the eggs were hot and runny. Parmesan bread made for perfect yolk sopping, and the fried potatoes were hot and mushy inside, crusty outside. But the breakfast sausage stole the show. Before Cibus, I didn't know it was possible for a meat stick to be fluffy, but these certainly were--almost bready, leaving me with none of the dense, heavy leftover feeling a la Jimmy Dean.

Brunch is the best time to try out restaurants that get a little too pricey at dinner, and Cibus certainly falls into that category. Our entrees were about $11, and a $7.25 brunch beverage didn't keep me from stopping by H&M on the way out and picking up some necessities. Perhaps it shouldn't be surprising that a city that loves shopping so much would also feature high-quality dining at the mall.

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