Olive & Finch has elevated the art of breakfast sandwiches — and of brunch in general — in the Uptown and Cherry Creek neighborhoods where chef/owner Mary Nguyen has planted her cozy all-day eateries. While the brunch menu seems long and daunting, there is almost always a small line at the counter, so you have a few minutes to contemplate your choices before it's your turn to order.
The counter is attached to a dessert and pastry display case, a small bar with a few stools, and a coffee station pouring espresso drinks. Here's how it works: Place your order at the counter, take a table marker in the form of a wooden cube with your initial on it, find a table (preferably on the patio), and within a few minutes, someone will be by with your drinks and food.
Chris Henning, general manager of the Cherry Creek location, which opened in early 2017, explains that all pastries are made fresh every morning, which is why I picked the City French breakfast sandwich. Scrambled eggs, thin-sliced ham and brie are stacked into a flaky yet sturdy croissant. "Sturdy" might sound like a strange adjective for a pastry, but a croissant that can hold a hearty breakfast sandwich and not immediately disintegrate is the dream, and friends, I have found it!
For bigger brunch dishes, cast-iron skillets filled with roasted potatoes or veggies and topped with eggs are a hearty option. The small, black skillet comes on a wooden serving tray; with a sugar-dusted beignet on the side, it makes for a lovely presentation. The Sonoma skillet comes with roasted potatoes, sweet potatoes and zucchini topped with sunny-side eggs with perfect runny yolks and a nest of fresh greens.
Most of the beverages are standard brunch thirst-quenchers: Bloody Marys, screwdrivers and mimosas. However, Olive & Finch also makes a spectacular mimosa using blueberry lemonade; it's a pretty, light-pink sipper that's neither too sweet nor too tart. The blueberry lemonade can be ordered without champagne, but what is brunch without bubbles?
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Dessert is a great cap to any meal, even brunch, and desserts are handmade every day in Olive & Finch's pastry kitchen. The dessert case is full of miniature chocolate or carrot cakes, fruit tarts, flourless cakes and so much more. Delicate French macarons that resemble colorful little sandwiches in flavors like chocolate, vanilla, coffee or pistachio are airy on the outside and full of sweet jam or buttercream in the middle.
“We have a lot of specials and rotating dishes," Henning adds. "We have some creative talent in the kitchen, and we let them have fun with daily specials. Right now we have a watermelon gazpacho on the specials board that has been a hit with guests. It’s fun to offer something different than the typical hot soup specials you see at most places.”
My brunch was served at the Cherry Creek Olive & Finch at 3390 East First Avenue; the original location is at 1552 East 17th Avenue in Uptown. For more information, call 303-955-0455 or visit the Olive & Finch website. Hot tip: Breakfast is served all day, which is convenient for those who wake up a little later than typical brunch hours.