At Mailea Weger’s newly-minted Lou, the all-day brunch goes beyond eggs and pancakes.

By Bridget Hallinan / FoodandWine.com
September 23, 2019

In mid-August, Food & Wine released a roundup of the most anticipated fall restaurant openings around the country, from Rule of Thirds in Brooklyn (a new venture from the Sunday Hospitality team) to a second Miami outpost of Lorena Garcia’s Chica. Also on the list? Lou, an all-day café concept from Gjusta alum Mailea Weger with a bar a vin twist, which we no longer need to anticipate as it has finally opened in Nashville. We were already excited about the natural wine list and brunch served seven days a week; however, when we found out said brunch menu includes breakfast cake and breakfast wine, that sealed the deal. You read that correctly, by the way—breakfast wine. Weger came up with the idea when she and her husband were living in Paris.

“On the very rare occasion that there was wine left open the next morning from the night before, I would have coffee and my husband, living a very French life, would start to pour a glass of wine,” Weger told Food & Wine. “And he would say, ‘I’m having breakfast wine! It was really only because there was maybe one glass left, so it was just a good way to utilize product that wouldn’t have held for that much longer.’”

Since Lou’s wine menu is all natural bottles, Weger thought that the no-waste strategy would apply well at the restaurant. They have a little bit of a longer shelf life than your average wine, she says, but they’re not at their peak once they’ve been opened. Thus, she’ll take leftover wine from the night or two nights before—reds, whites, whatever they haven’t fully sold—and offer it to customers on the breakfast menu for $8 a glass, right by the assorted daily pastries. They’re still delicious, but Weger feels that if you’re paying full price ($14) for a glass of wine, it should be beautiful and at its prime. Her guests love it—although Lou has only been open for a little under two weeks, the concept has already received positive reviews. Weger says the bulk of orders come in on the weekends, as expected; however, since the restaurant lives in East Nashville, which she describes as a relatively artistic area, they do serve an all-day brunch to cater to customers who might not necessarily work a standard 9-5.

“Coming from California as a chef, we felt that we want to use every product possible that we can so it doesn’t go to waste,” she explains. “And offer a fun incentive to come in early and live a French lifestyle for the day.”

Speaking of French lifestyle, it should come as no surprise that the breakfast cake idea was also a French import. Weger says it stems from her loving pancakes, but sometimes craving something a little sweeter—not as sweet as French toast, she notes, but a step up from the pancakes they currently serve at Lou, which are made with roasted banana and buckwheat. So Sasha Piligian, Lou’s executive pastry chef and a Sqirl alum, created the perfect hybrid that still fits in with the restaurant’s healthy-ish vibe. The base begins with her homemade hazelnut flour, and cacao nibs folded in for a hint of chocolate flavor. Then, the cake is topped with a seasonal compote—right now, it’s blistered blueberries—that cascades over the side, kissed with freshly grated orange zest and sea salt for the finishing touch. The end result, Weger says, is moist and feels like a luxurious treat, with the added bonus of being gluten-free and dairy-free.

Ben RIce

Like the compote, the breakfast cake will rotate seasonally. Since they’re fresh off the opening, Weger and Piligan are still figuring out the menu—an apple compote could be on the way this fall, and while the aforementioned cake will probably stay on the menu for a while, Weger says the base will likely change at some point, too. However, she maintains that it will always be really organic, rich, healthy, and good for you, packed with flavor and tons of fruit. Of course, if you're not in the mood for cake, there's plenty of other breakfast options too, including a poached egg with mustard greens and a soft scrambled egg & broccolini "bodega sandwich." But if you have the opportunity to indulge, why not?

“It’s the concept of being able to really feel like you’re treating yourself, that’s what both of those ideas really are,” Weger says.” It’s something that’s really fun, and a little bit frivolous, in a sense. But at the core, it’s still really not, because it’s a really healthy cake that’s kind of good for you. And then the wine is natural wine…sometimes it just makes you feel really special and celebratory, even if it’s just a random Thursday.”

Lou is open Tuesday-Sunday at 1304 McGavock Pk, Nashville, TN 37216. Brunch is served from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., apero hour is from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., and then dinner is served from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Advertisement