Brunch starts with two fundamentals-coffee and Bloody Marys-and Sage American Bistro serves both with style. But to truly make the Sunday bonus meal great, you need to mix in some creative cuisine that you can't get any other time of the week. That's where Sage really shines.

You can find the friendly bistro between the University District and Clintonville in that small hamlet known as Old North Columbus (you know it's a legitimate neighborhood because they have their own arches). This is the kind of place where exposed brick walls and local artwork seem homey, never pretentious, and though the seasonal menu is ambitious, you'll certainly feel comfortable wearing jeans.

During brunch, served Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the atmosphere is high-energy but not hectic; the staff happily accommodates large groups at shifting combinations of tables as friends and family catch up. The last time we visted, chef/owner Bill Glover greeted us at the door. I usually spot the chef busily cooking dinner in the kitchen, so it was nice to see him enjoying a Sunday afternoon in the dining room with his patrons.

As it does so well the rest of the week, Sage has a way of mixing accomplished foodie fare with the un-fussy and just plain tasty. Case in point: the modestly named Eggs and Such ($8), which takes the classic diner platter and ups the ante with excellent execution. Even the home fries are luscious.

For something a little less traditional, my favorite is the Fried Eggs and Johnny Cakes ($11). This dish packs everything I love about breakfast into every divine forkful. The corn meal pancakes are a hefty base for two tender eggs, sweet and porky apple-cider-cured bacon, and a creamy chorizo aioli that's speckled with chunks of spicy sausage. Topping it all off is a pickled red cabbage, whose bright orchid color belies a vinegary bite that cuts through the sweet bacon and chorizo heat. Beautiful.

The seasonal Pheasant Sausage Scramble ($12) was another potent weapon from Chef Glover's creative arsenal. The flavorful meat was mild and lean, a nice hearty taste without the heavy greasy feel that sometimes comes with breakfast sausage. The scrambled eggs were loaded with veggies (loved the asparagus), though we would've enjoyed just a little more of the promised goat cheese. The plate was finished with a salad tossed in a tangy vinaigrette; it was nice to see some fresh greens on a brunch plate.

If you're less interested in eating your greens, you'll want to try Sage's signature dish instead. The Crme Brulee French Toast ($10) proves the old adage: You can have your cake and eat it for brunch, too. The bread's caramelized crispy crust gives way to a creamy interior, and it's doused in a syrupy saut of berries and bananas. This treat is truly dessert-worthy-but then again, indulging in something sweet in the middle of the day is what brunch is all about.

Now, about that coffee. Make sure you take the time to enjoy a French press carafe of Stauf's ($8). It's Sunday, after all. And don't forget the Bloody Mary ($5.50). Sage's afternoon cocktail is mixed with lots of horseradish, which gives the heat a nice, bright taste to
perfectly accompany the fresh brunch menu.

American Bistro
2653 N. High St., Old North Columbus