Weekend Brunch shines in Ithaca's West End at Felicia's Atomic Lounge

June 8, 2015

This week, 14850 Dining revisits a familiar brunch player on the scene, at Felicia's Atomic Lounge. This West End bar has always had food available, including their great flatbreads and Friday night "drunken" hot dogs and not dogs, and on April 18th, they expand their Sunday brunch to include Saturdays, too.

Brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 10:30am-2:30pm is a nice addition to this walkable neighborhood, between the waterfront and downtown, that used to have brunch at Fine Line Bistro and Maxie's Supper Club, and briefly during summers in the back yard at the Westy. Felicia's first tried brunch on Black Friday a few years ago, and opened for weekly brunch on Sundays just over two years ago.

Start off with a cupcake of the day. When we first tried brunch, we had a choice of lemon cupcake with a vegan frosting, or Guinness cupcake with Irish creme frosting. (It happened to be on St. Patrick's Day.) The cupcake selection and creativity level have grown, with frequent vegan and gluten-free choices, and the caramel-glazed sticky buns are a nice treat, as well.

Beyond that, go with the State Street Sandwich, made with local eggs, cheddar, and ham on a kaiser roll. The fritatta of the day made with local eggs, served with breakfast potatoes and greens. Or even breakfast meatloaf, made with locally raised pork.

A vegan version of the Felicia's brunch bowl.A vegan version of the Felicia's brunch bowl.A layered brunch bowl with breakfast potatoes, black beans, egg, cheese, butternut squash, guacamole, and cornbread is always gluten-free, and a vegan version is available with batter-fried tofu and cashew cheese instead of egg and dairy. The produce, meat, and eggs are coming from Tree Gate Farm, the Piggery, and other local favorites.

There are items for lighter appetites, too, including a housemade granola that's vegan if you go with hazelnut milk or soy milk. Or put together a couple of sides, such a slice of breakfast meatloaf or corn bread. The biggest complaint we've heard is that some of the brunch options are pricey or skimpy or both, and the small serving of meatloaf is probably the best example. That's not unusual with eateries serving local meat, though; you're paying more for that locavore selection.

Since they're making virtually everything from scratch, it's easy for Felicia's to provide gluten-free and vegan options weekly. Even the condiments bear a homey touch. There's bourbon-tinged ketchup, and Leah's marvelous (and marvelously simple) chipotle hot sauce.

Of course, Felicia's is a bar, and they do a nice job with the brunch cocktails once noon rolls around. (New York State's patchwork of quaint "blue laws" include a prohibition on selling alcohol before noon on Sundays.) Go with the basic mimosa, or spice it up with the Zen Mary, a house specialty that's a variation of the Bloody Mary with cucumber-infused vodka. Or go classic with the Pisco Sour, an old fashioned concoction made with egg white. Perfect for brunch! Felicia's is brewing fresh coffee and offers a selection of teas, as well.

Sundays at Felicia's have often been crowded, which means a wait, but that's fine. You can start with a cup of coffee, or a cocktail, and a cupcake before your table is ready. We suspect the addition of Saturday brunch will lighten the load on Sunday, as well as offer a less-crowded brunch experience, as we find often happens when restaurants start offering Saturday brunches.

Plan on spending $6-15 on brunch, a little more with drinks. Find Felicia's at 508 West State Street or at atomicloungeithaca.com, or call 607-273-2219 and tell them you heard about them here.

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