This Cafe Is Making Breakfast Wine and Cake a Thing
Let them eat cake... at 10 a.m.
Sure, it’s five o’clock somewhere, but at Nashville’s Lou, wine is unapologetically served at breakfast, as the ideal pairing with cake. Executive chef-owner Mailea Weger’s French-inspired stylings and creative California-ish menu (the L.A. native honed her chops at Gjusta and Gjelina) has made the chic all-day café and natural wine bar a brunch destination in East Nashville, but the notion of cake-and-wine for breakfast is more than mere marketing gimmick.
Before moving to Nashville, Weger and her husband, Ben Rice, lived in Paris for two years. Weger was busy helming Echo, a Californian-Parisian deli and café. Rice wasn’t working at the time, so he would treat himself to a luxurious breakfast and polish off whatever wine was left over from the night before. “Breakfast wine” became an inside joke among the couple, until Weger realized it was an ingenious way to repurpose leftover wines from Lou’s all-natural wine list.
“It’s wine that’s been open a day or two and not at its prime, but still very good and delicious — maybe a Pét-Nat that’s lost its fizz,” Weger says. “But it doesn’t feel right charging full price for that glass, so we’ll offer it at $8 a glass. We want to incentivize people to treat themselves in the morning.”
As for the breakfast cake, Weger describes it as “healthyish,” since it’s low in sugar and both gluten- and dairy-free.
“I was looking for an alternative between something that’d read super-healthy or super-sweet. I’m from California, so I don’t use tons of sugar, and most of our pastries are low-sugar,” Weger explains. “I wanted something a bit sweeter and decadent without going so far as doing French toast.”
Lou’s executive pastry chef Sasha Piligan (previously of Sqirl in L.A.) devised the cake base, grinding hazelnuts into a meal that yields a moist, rich cake that’s studded with cacao nibs for a subtle chocolate crunch. The toppings rotate seasonally. Apple season is on the horizon; right now, the wedge of breakfast cake is topped with a syrupy, late-season blueberry or raspberry compote, orange zest, powdered sugar and sea salt.
The breakfast cake and wines are currently offered a la carte (between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.), but Weger aims to offer them as a pairing soon. She imagines matching a jammy red gamay with a red-fruit-topped cake, or a tart white wine, like a California riesling, with apples.