For all the charm of St. Paul’s Summit-area neighborhoods, I’ve always been surprised that they don’t hold more French cafés. (You have to go all the way downtown to experience Meritage’s Parisian charms.) But when the Bon Vie Café relocated, the French Hen took over its sunny, airy roost, offering a classic breakfast/lunch menu of omelets and salades niçoises. The crowds can sometimes overwhelm the staff, but my patience was rewarded at a recent brunch with several indulgent standards, including an excellent croque madame, a thick slab of pillowy white bread layered with smoked ham and gruyere then doused in Dijon béchamel and topped with a runny-yolked egg. The menu’s New Orleans influence is notable in the French Quarter breakfast sandwich, with Andouille sausage on a croissant bun. If you want a mimosa, BYO bubbles from Solo Vino and order a glass of OJ.
518 Selby Ave., St. Paul