Owner Michael Henry Moorman is the multitalented fellow responsible not just for M. Henry's inventive menu, but also for the decor, which he aptly describes as "American Zen farmer with a little bit of country French thrown in." The space is Zen-worthy indeed, complete with exposed brick walls, eye-catching artwork and window panes suspended from the ceiling. What's more, the wait staff couldn't be more welcoming, and they'll happily discuss the finer points of any item on the menu.
Breakfast, served all day, features a balance of sweet and savory items and a mean cup of coffee. Fannie's killer fried egg sandwich (toasted sourdough layered with two over-medium eggs, applewood bacon, sliced tomatoes, gorgonzola and fresh thyme and served with house potatoes) has inspired a loyal following and, at $7.95, is pretty much a steal. Sweet-toothed customers are crazy about the fresh fruit crepes and blackberry bliss cakes—fluffy flapjacks layered with warm blackberries and vanilla mascarpone cream, topped with a brown sugar and oat crust.
Gourmet salads, sandwiches and the signature peasant bowls make up the lunchtime roster, and vegetarian-friendly options, like Gertrude's ultimate veggie burger topped with miso glaze, abound. Check the chalkboard for outstanding specials, which rotate—and sell out—daily; the regular menu changes seasonally.
Sunday brunch generates out-the-door lines, but the crowds have been a bit more manageable since spring 2006, when M. Henry took over the space next door and added a bakery (open until 7 p.m.) that sells freshly baked breads, cupcakes and fruit tarts, as well as homemade soups and prepackaged sandwiches and salads.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Natalie Goldstein