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Veggie Girl: Brunch at Bistro Vendome

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What is it about brunch that makes it the perfect meal? Sure, it's a blending of two meals, so that means it should be twice as good as just breakfast or lunch -- but that can't completely explain brunch's appeal. Maybe it's the fact that brunch makes drinking before noon seem not only acceptable, but almost necessary?

For vegetarians, brunch has an added benefit: During this one, glorious meal, we can venture into otherwise off-limits spots and choose from any number of delectable egg dishes or such sweet treats as waffles, French toast and pancakes.

And where is my favorite place to eat my favorite meal? For my money, Bistro Vendome offers the best brunch experience in Denver.

Last Sunday, I met up with a group of friends at Bistro Vendome. Surprisingly, most of them had never been to this lovely spot, tucked away in a cozy courtyard behind Larimer Square (the technical address is 1420 Larimer Street). We quickly ordered a round of drinks, and while I heard great things about the Framboise Royale and French 75 ($8 each), I stuck with the smooth and strong French press coffee.

We shared an order of buttery croissants served with rose jam ($9). These are the croissants you've been dreaming about since that trip to Paris but have never been able to find stateside, one friend said. But I think they're better than the croissants I had in France, because none of those were served with the unique, and delicious rose jam.

My usual dish at Bistro Vendome is the Asperges et Oeufs en Brioche ($9, and shown above), an awesome, extraordinarily rich combination of asparagus with two poached eggs on a brioche with red onion marmalade and béarnaise sauce. A hint of sweetness in the béarnaise helps blend the flavors together perfectly.

Most of the dishes on the brunch menu come with pomme frites. But if no one will share, you can order a side for $4. Readers have voted these fries the Best in Denver numerous times, and it's easy to see why. Not only are they thinly sliced and fried a perfect crisp, but they come coated with herbs, sea salt and some kind of amazing elixir that adds a touch of sweetness. Dip them in the accompanying aioli, and you'll find it hard to stop eating them.

Other vegetarian favorites here include French toast with citrus honey and fresh fruit (which is really more like a very rich bread pudding), a Belgium waffle, a mushroom omelet and the Croque Madame without the ham (basically an egg and cheese sandwich on a brioche with a side of fries).

I may never get to enjoy a vegetarian dinner at Bistro Vendome, but as long as this 70 degree January weather holds out, I'll be enjoying brunch on this lovely patio every chance I get.

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