Laurel Tavern has a beautiful patio on the east side of Lowest Greenville. The aesthetics alone make you want to go in, but if you’re looking for brunch that goes beyond “basic,” you might as well keep walking.
Brunch is served from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and Laurel Tavern gets off to a promising start with friendly staff who greet you as you walk in and offer you a seat anywhere you like. It feels like a sit-down restaurant, but you have to walk up to order. So is it fast-casual? Maybe. It’s hard to tell.
If you need a mood adjustment, you could start with the Wake Up Call cocktail ($8), with spicy tequila, coffee, Irish cream, maple syrup and chocolate bitters; or the Red Eye ($8), with Old Overholt rye, cold brew, maple syrup and barbecue bitters.
You might as well go that route if you’re a coffee snob of any sort, because the regular black coffee tastes like it belongs in a paper cup on an airplane. There is Cuvee cold brew ($5) on the menu, but it comes with sweet cream. If you’re a purist, you might as well skip the caffeine here and walk next door to get Stumptown coffee afterward.
For those who care about “going green,” Laurel Tavern needs some work. Why a restaurant would serve dine-in coffee in a paper cup is beyond understanding if you are even remotely concerned about the environment. The cute wooden plates underneath the food are nice, but the paper on each of them is another sign of wastefulness.
Laurel Tavern offers a quick menu. If you’re craving something sweet, the lemon ricotta-stuffed French toast ($11) is a fancier version of what you can get at IHOP. The berry compote on top takes the sweetness to an extreme, which isn’t terrible if that’s what you’re into.
The duck confit sweet potato hash ($13) has potential, with sweet onion and pepper, a sunny-up egg (a brown egg, they’ll tell you), toast and house jam.
The huevos rancheros ($11) is suitable for more savory cravings late in the morning. What seems like a little quesadilla is paired with black beans and topped with roasted tomatillo sauce and an egg.
You can add sides, such as bacon ($4), but the real thing Laurel Tavern does well is the hash browns ($4). They come in a perfectly thin layer with a crispness that’s addicting and just the right amount of salt.
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If everything were as good as the hash browns, this place would merit return visits. But at this rate, if you go, just get the potatoes and a brunch cocktail.
All that said, it’s the perfect environment for a lovely spot on Lowest Greenville, so maybe dinner is a better option. Here's hoping that menu is more exciting.
Laurel Tavern, 1920 Greenville Ave. (Lowest Greenville)