Cowen Park Grocery Serves Fresh, Family-Friendly Brunch

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Here's a few reasons to eat brunch at the cafe at Cowen Park Grocery--aka CPG--as often as possible: The food is fresh, cheap, and better than anything the typical cook can whip up at home. The guy behind the counter will remember your name. And after you eat, you can buy wine, beer, and other specialty nosh from an independent business without having to endure the madness of the Whole Foods down the street.

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The cafe and grocery at CPG are separated by a divider, which works fine unless you sit near the border of the two. Last weekend, that "Moves like Jagger" song was playing in the market in direct competition with a Black Keys track in the eating area. When it's nice enough to be outside, sidewalk seating offers a view of Ravenna Blvd. and the park across the street. Patrons eating al fresco are encouraged to carry tables from one side of the corner space to the other to follow the sun.

The light-filled cafe carries a worn-in, distinctly Northwest feel, blending the interior vibes of coffee shops like Herkimer with other longstanding breakfast spots like Eastlake's 14 Carrot. Orders from the brunch menu are delivered on no frills diner plates, with mismatched silverware and condiments up for grabs on a self-serve counter next to the espresso bar.

A pastry case holds baked goods alongside mini broccoli cheddar quiches, salmon salad and pâté Forestier sandwiches. Coffee is from Umbria, with an espresso menu featuring the classics and a few less familiar offerings, like marrocchinos--espresso with cocoa and milk foam.

Fluffy omelets arrive marked with brown butter spots from the pan alongside extra crispy seeded toast and a pile of yellow potatoes cut into moons. Kids will be plenty happy with the salty taters and a fruit plate featuring the basics: banana rounds, orange slices, and apple spears. Other favorite picks for small diners are challah french toast and a pair of Nutella buttermilk pancakes that are sweet enough without the syrup. Brunch is served from 8 to 1 on the weekends.

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