What rhymes with lunch, is one of the most celebrated weekend meals and will soon be occupying the former Starlite space at 2600 W. Main St., offering cider mimosa pitchers, waffle flights and a breakfast charcuterie board?
Rueger took over the 16-year-old Starlite in 2008, but after 10 years of operating the business, owner Rick Lyons and his team wanted to flip the script.
“The Fan was becoming a little bit stale [for us],” says Shannon Conway, director of operations for RRG. “[Starlite] didn’t seem to be resonating anymore. I think it was incumbent upon somebody to shake it up.”
The restaurant group did some looking inward and pinpointed what they did best: hearty, classic Southern comfort food.
“Everybody’s biggest meal on Robinson and Main [streets] is brunch, and it’s obviously a Richmond favorite,” explains Conway. “We figured we would take everything working for breakfast from Lunch and Supper and really round it out here.”
The Brunch space boasts a freshly painted exterior and a revived attitude upon entering. “It needed a facelift,” says Conway, who, along with the RRG team, redesigned the space and added five new windows and hanging plant boxes. “We wanted it to feel welcoming and clean and brighten it up.”
Lyons also exercised his woodworking skills and completed all the tables and wooden features throughout the space.
Brunch’s menu development was headed by Chef Stephen DeRaffele, who also serves as kitchen manager for Lunch, Supper and the Urban Roost Event Space.
“We bring in the same vibe here, but a little bit different, and have expanded the offerings,” says Conway of the menu. She describes the vision for the eatery as a balance between fancy bistro and the down-home, welcoming Southern vibes that are prevalent at RRG’s other outposts.
How does a house-made lox board or a biscuit sampler with house-made jams and butters sound? For the indecisive, sweet-toothed bruncher, there will be a waffle flight, along with other sugary delights including pancakes and French toast. Benedicts and omelets swap traditional ingredients for inventive additions including pickled Fresno peppers and enoki mushrooms, pepper-crusted pork loin, caviar, smoked portobello mushrooms, and raclette, a semi-hard Alpine cheese.
“All the classics, we’re dressing up,” says Conway.
The “unch” part of brunch is not forgotten: Diners will find a fried chicken sandwich — a Lunch and Supper crowd favorite — served on a pretzel bun or as a waffle-wich, along with a brunch burger (a veggie patty is available) adorned with a sunny-side up local duck egg.
Brunch bowls with shrimp and grits, short ribs and fire-grilled chicken beckon to diners who like everything contained. Entrees, dubbed “boss meals,” include chicken and waffles and steak and eggs, and there is also the classic breakfast sammy and biscuits and gravy.
Pastry Chef Nina Pohlman will bake about 80 percent of Brunch’s sourdough bread, English muffins, biscuits and pastries in house.
A note on the menu informs guests that everything can be smothered in gravy. Brunch will also offer three types of hash browns — pepper and onion, raclette or Dijon dill — along with various grits: tasso ham and pimento cheese, roasted garlic-Parmesan, and classic cheese.
Stay thirsty, brunchers: The cocktail menu is overflowing with boozy and booze-free concoctions. “We’re going to have an amazing cocktail program and a great nonalcoholic program, because you know everybody has five drinks at brunch,” says Conway.
General Manager and Beverage Director Jaclyn Beasley makes her Richmond restaurant debut via Washington, D.C., and says she wants to incorporate offerings you won’t find elsewhere in the city.
The hardest decision for diners may come down to the drink menu, which is broken into sections including brunch classics or “The Usual Suspects,” spritzers and punches served in French presses intended to be shared, “Industry Faves” chosen by bartenders, “Some Like It Hot” featuring cocktails such as a whiskey toddy made with Mill Haven tea from CaryTown Teas and cognac hot chocolate, along with more intriguing offerings under “Keep Richmond Weird.”
“I know Richmond is weird, and I know Richmond is funky, and I wanted to do some cool stuff and challenge people to try something new,” says Beasley.
The “Cereal Killer” combines breakfast and booze; Beasley infuses Fruit Loops in Belle Isle Moonshine, which not only creates a fun color, it “tastes like the leftover cereal milk,” she says.
Beer enthusiasts can expect four taps with a focus on frequent rotation, seasonality and hyper local brews, along with bottles and cans including Miller High Life. The house beer will be Fine Creek Brewing’s “Gürly Mann Coffee,” a lightly effervescent and sessionable cream ale.
Nonalcoholic drinks include Blue Ridge Bucha on tap, house ginger beer, a seasonal soda, Boylan soda fountain beverages, Snowing in Space nitro cold brew coffee and a variety of CaryTown Teas.
“We want to overwhelm people with what we have and keep them coming back to try new things,” Beasley says.
Brunch will be open every day from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. There are plans to add dinner service in the future.