Europeans don't do brunch. The concept of one huge meal that's supposed to merge breakfast and lunch -- but really provides an excuse to eat enough food to take care of dinner too -- was invented by us gluttonous Americans. Although they don't have brunch, per se, you can still waste away your weekend hours at the adorable Cafe Lutecia, enjoying Euro-style breakfast and lunch from a menu of French fare.
Lutecia is so authentically French that you almost forget you're sitting on a corner of Lombard Street and not at a sidewalk cafe on a quiet residential rue in Paris. In its 15 years of operation, this family- owned spot has cultivated a loyal neighborhood clientele. The inside is tiny and cheery with sun-colored walls and potted plants. Take advantage of the outdoor seating while you still can, and enjoy the shade of blue awnings that wrap around the corner.
You won't find pancakes or eggs, but the classic French offerings are a welcome alternative. There are always soups and quiches of the day -- the tomato bisque we tried was rich and velvety, the goat cheese and tomato quiche fluffy perfection. Combinations like soup and quiche or quiche and garden salad ($7.50) are excellent ways to sample. But such a light meal would certainly not be sufficiently brunchy. Patrons nibble on sides like p‹¨«te ($4.75) or brie cheese with crispy French bread ($4). Salads are impeccably fresh --tempting options include the Alesia ($6.75) with goat cheese, tomatoes, and pine nuts and the Provence ($7.75) with tuna, hearts of palm, egg, tomato and corn. The menu boasts a long list of hot and cold sandwiches, including favorites like the Parisi ($6.50), with eggplant, garlic, mozzarella, olives and basil, or the Gergovie ($7) with chicken breast, tomato, onions, green peppers, olives and provolone.
Brunchyness can be intensified with a mug of hot cocoa with whipped cream, or Cafe Viennois ($2.25), an espresso version. As you linger in your sidewalk seat, it feels a little weird that everyone around you is speaking Philly-accented English-except, of course, the friendly owner behind the counter, whose accent is decidedly French.