Jean-Robert’s Greenup Café
308 Greenup St.
I like to believe that things happen for a reason. The other day I missed my regular bus and had the choice of standing around for another 30 minutes in the cold, schlepping it 45 minutes home in ill-suited shoes, or catching the Southbank Shuttle, which doesn't stop at the end of my street like the #23, but does at least skim the outskirts of the historic neighborhood I live in. So I hopped the shuttle, knowing I wouldn’t have too far to teeter in my clogs once I disembarked. I mention all this because I could have cursed my bad luck at missing my regular bus, but instead it gave me a chance to relax, slow down and enjoy the scenery and holiday decorations as I walked through the neighborhood that evening. And as I passed by the de Cavel residence I realized that it had been too long since my last visit to one of his fine establishments.
Having caught a Jean-Robert jones that wouldn’t let up, Sunday morning my husband and I bundled up and walked the 1.7 miles to Greenup Café, located inside a lovely, classic old brownstone in Covington’s Riverside Historic District. The restaurant sports an eclectic mix of French bohemian tsotchkes and ephemera, and the rich, vibrant colors and cheery atmosphere are enough to chase away the dreary grey Midwestern winter lurking outside.
You simply cannot go wrong when Jean-Robert is involved, and although we’ve enjoyed both lunch and dinner at Greenup, our favorite time to visit is for brunch on Sunday mornings. We’ve been countless times and introduced a number of our out-of-town friends to its delights, and never has the food been anything less than sumptuously delicious. There is really no where else in town that offers this kind of top-notch quality at such an astonishingly reasonable price - only one item on the brunch menu will set you back double digits, and it’s not vegetarian ($10.75 for the Greenup Salad with chicken).
Vegetarians need not worry at Greenup Café, as Jean-Robert's got us covered. There’s the omelet with a medley of mushrooms, tomatoes, gruyere cheese, asparagus and crème fraiche; so light and fluffy that it just melts in your mouth. There’s the Tart du Jour served with two fried eggs, with a buttery crust that is surprisingly light and flaky. The buttermilk pancakes come with your choice of banana and sautéed seasonal fruit or goat cheese and sweet corn relish, giving an exotic touch to the classic American staple. Likewise, their version of the Mexican breakfast dish huevos rancheros is a tip of the hat to former building occupant Wildflour; their "Wannabe" Wildflour Huevos Rancheros is a gigantic flour tortilla, brimming with vegetarian black beans and fresh veggies. I cannot recommend it highly enough, as it is absolutely gorgeous.
The croissants are out of this world. Light, airy and just the right side of chewy, you can taste the expertise with which they are made in every savory bite. They offer the croissants with cinnamon and honey and a side of sautéed seasonal fruit, or as a sandwich with tomatoes, avocado and brie, served with a side of salad and country potatoes. Both are superb.
Our biggest regret this trip was forgetting to order our dessert before we sat down – they go quickly and it’s a good idea to make your way to the pastry counter upon entering the establishment to put dibs on your choice from their assortment of made-from-scratch, scrumptious offerings. Eating one may cost you an extra 30 minutes in the gym later in the week, but oh, they are so worth it!
Everything at Greenup Café is incredibly fresh, and Jean-Robert’s team takes great pains to source local produce for each dish, which is why there are subtle changes in the menu depending on the season. When we visited the restaurant in the summer months, the country potatoes were made with waxy red-skinned potatoes and tossed lightly with caramelized onions, but now that winter is upon us they are heartily seasoned, roasted white potatoes.
A visit to Greenup Cafe is guaranteed to be delicious and filling for vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike, and the warm, friendly vibe reverberates long after you've left for the cold slog back home.