Mixed messages prevail at this sweet yet confusing Northeast brunch spot. Some of Bumblekiss' gestures are meant to charm but awkwardly misfire, and many menu items suffer from multiple personality disorder. But while disparate elements can create chaos, they can also work together to imbue a sense of endearing, if flawed, well-roundedness.
Housed in a cozy Beaumont cottage painted cheddar orange, the restaurant, which youthful Lisa and Vincent Chavez (both are approaching 30) opened last April, couldn't be cuter. Exotic foliage and a peaceful patio place Bumblekiss among the city's top outdoor dining atmospheres. And the spot's dreaminess goes a long way in compensating for its deficiencies. Servers stumble a bit over the glitches inherent in a new routine, but they are sincerely sweet enough to make missing flatware and salad dressing easy to forgive.
The first menu category, "munch while you wait," is cause for greater concern—is the wait really so long that it requires its own menu? On a recent Sunday, the answer was yes; by the time our brunch arrived 45 minutes later, the mini muffins ($2.50) were long gone. Still, it's a thoughtful touch.
Signage promising "ridiculously tasty" meals is probably meant to inspire confidence but, like the word "quality" in the name of a roadside hotel, does just the opposite. Sure, some dishes, like extraordinary pancakes ($4-$6.50) rich in eggs and buttermilk, are tasty, but what's ridiculous are the over-the-top ingredient combinations that seem to be the cafe's trademark. Another breakfast joint might offer classic French toast with fruit, but here the "Utopia" ($9.50) tops French toast made from cinnamon-swirl bread with mixed berries and hazelnuts and Dagoba chocolate, with a bacon-cheddar scramble on the side. There are so many flavors and textures vying for your attention that none is able to shine through in the crowd.
There are so many ingredients to keep track of that more boring details, like cranking out a consistent product, suffer as a result. On one visit that French toast (which makes an appearance in a "Bumble Cristo" and alongside egg dishes too) was moist with ribbons of sweet cinnamon goo. Another day it was dry and stuck in one's craw.
Bumblekiss is an adorable neighborhood place, but it has bit off more than it can chew. With a little experience and a more streamlined menu, however, it could soon hit on the winning combination.
Bumblekiss, 3517 NE 46th Ave., 282-6313. Breakfast and lunch 7 am-3:30 pm Tuesday-Sunday. $ Inexpensive.