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The menu is inventive in both its use of organic ingredients and its combination of cultural tastes and artistic plate presentation.

Wilmington's Deluxe restaurant draws vacationers downtown 

Uptown brunch Down East

click to enlarge Deluxe, a hip downtown Wilmington dinner spot, offers a hearty Sunday brunch for beachgoers. - PHOTO BY VICTORIA BOULOUBASIS

Deluxe
114 Market St.
(between Front and Second streets)
Wilmington
910-251-0333

Lazy Sundays on the Carolina coast call for a hearty brunch (you're bound to miss breakfast). Perhaps a Southern belle insists on something fancy, like mimosas with eggs Benedict? Other times, all a sun-soaked body needs is comfort food in the form of cinnamon-tinged French toast sopping in homemade maple syrup. Or maybe even a cheesy omelet with a heaping of 'taters or grits.

It just so happens that Deluxe caters to all these lazy hunger pangs and cravings. Tucked away on Market Street in historic downtown Wilmington, the restaurant typically entices sophisticated couples for an intimate dinner or small, hip crowds for drinks to kick off late-night revelry. Open for only dinner during the week, Deluxe serves up brunch every Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., a treat to both tourists and locals.

A step in the door reminds you that a thriving artistic culture sets Wilmington apart from your average beach town. Red hues on the walls are illuminated by natural sunlight and soft lighting. A chic warehouse feel, with never-ending ceilings, it initially screams "city." But the rotation of varied featured artwork every 10 weeks and wooden-paneled walls washed with a light, neutral green give the place a folksy feel. Self-described as "an aesthetically stimulating environment," Deluxe offers live music by local flamenco guitarist William "Paco" Strickland.

Serving local eggs, produce, fruit and cheese, free-range meats and fresh seafood, the menu is inventive in both its use of organic ingredients and its combination of cultural tastes and artistic plate presentation. Sunday brunch items range from an eclectic assortment of omelets (with a dash of fresh seafood here and there) to noteworthy specials like Pecan Swirl French Toast, Blueberry Cornmeal Pancakes and Buttermilk Battered Grouper Nuggets.

Generous brunch portions left my party of three delighted, as we savored each unique bite. The lump crab and chevre cheese omelet with local goat cheese, asparagus tips and herb aioli came with the standard choice of one side (I picked stone-ground grits), fruit (a bit of grapefruit, strawberry and melon) and a fresh-baked mini-muffin (that day it was banana nut). At $11.50, the higher end of brunch menu prices, the dish proved extremely filling. All-natural eggs and crispy, green asparagus made me feel I had cooked up the meal using farmers' market ingredients at home. But the pleasant, soothing surprise of fresh lump crabmeat reminded me I was at the beach. Another dish, creamy blue cheese artichoke sauce with all-natural eggs on toasted English muffin, was a spin on the eggs Benedict. A slightly tart sauce added an unexpected refreshing taste to the hearty eggs. A house-made cappuccino to top it all off was served just right.

Deluxe boasts an award-winning wine list and dinner items that span Asian, Mediterranean and local cuisine.

That Sunday morning (or was it afternoon?), we all left smiling, bellies content and a mood that was deliciously drowsy. Which was perfect, since we had a bit more lazy beach lounging to do.

Editor's note: As Triangle residents head for the mountains or the coast this summer, we'll occasionally highlight places to eat in some of our favorite escape spots. We'll focus on local-owned, local-flavored haunts. Got a story tip? E-mail us at food@indyweek.com; put "Escapist Eats" in the subject line.

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