The Allure of Paramour
This Main Line newcomer, perhaps best known for its brunch and Bloody Mary bar, surprises and satisfies at every turn
by Brian Freedman



It’s rare that brunch elicits feelings of wonder, but as I walked up to the make-your-own Bloody Mary bar at Paramour inside the Wayne Hotel one recent Sunday morning, I found myself staring, eyes glazing over, jaw slackening, heart racing. Like a wanderer in the desert coming upon an oasis, I couldn’t believe the cornucopia of riches: multiple Worcestershire-sauce options, hot sauces built on foundations of chipotles and habaneros and even more exotic heat sources, pickled vegetables in brines resembling the makings of some mad scientist’s laboratory.


As a passionate and persnickety Bloody Mary devotee, I had been waiting for this kind of arrangement—a technicolored, alcohol-lifted sandbox for grown-ups, of sorts—all along.


Of course, as with all buffets, the chance for disaster lurks alongside every decision: One ingredient too many and you may as well dump your vodka out and start over. But as long as you don’t go overboard, and as long as you make sound decisions, this is one of the best ways in the region to kick-start your Sunday morning.


Really, it’s difficult to go wrong here, even in ways not pertaining specifically to alcohol-based beverages. Paramour, which opened this past September, provides as civilized a Sunday brunch as you’ll find in the suburbs—or anywhere, for that matter.


Traditional brunch items here perform brilliantly, though to limit yourself strictly to tradition is to miss out on some of the kitchen’s more clever dishes, too. Breakfast sliders, for example, are what all Egg McMuffins wish they could be when they grow up (but never will). Anchored by fluffy, sweet brioche, these are generous with palm-thick patties of savory homemade breakfast sausage, all pink and juicy in the center. Each of the three on the plate is enrobed in melted cheddar and crowned by a perky quail egg whose yolk, when you pick up the sandwich and squeeze the top down, ties together the whole package. This alone is worth a mimosa—or, even better, just skip the OJ and get a glass of Champagne to accompany it.


The signature eggs Benedict also mined a deeply savory vein. And while the eggs had been poached just a hair too long, the yolks were still loose enough to mix luxuriously with the truffled hollandaise. And with the addition of duck prosciutto from highly regarded d’Artagnan, you may never look at humble eggs and bacon the same way again.


Also notable were the potatoes accompanying the signature Benny. After having been boiled and then crushed the little musketballs were fried, crisping frizzles of skin around the tender flesh at their center, creating an altogether perfect and unexpectedly grease-free potato.


Salumi and ricotta salata flatbread was less successful, both the translucent coins of meat as well as the ricotta too monochromatically—even overwhelmingly—salty to eat more than a modest square. A few bites were excellent; much more proved difficult.


But that was perhaps the only misstep. Blue-corn pancakes arrived the paradoxically appealing color of a light bruise, and were as fluffy and delicate as so many flapjacks typically are leaden. The roasty corn, set against the subtly sweet whipped cream, and framed by house-macerated piniola syrup, lent them a serious sense of joy. And the complimentary appetizers were far better than they really had to be: ricotta bread pudding all warm and comforting; aqua fresca, its melon sweetness a perfect palate-cleanser, like a purposefully melted sorbet; a curl of smoked salmon with its classically inspired accompaniment of creme fraiche and caviar. Only the broccoli, nodding in the direction of Asia with its dusting of sesame seeds, seam of rice wine vinegar, and the nuttiness of sesame oil, seemed out of place.


All of this is taken in a modern, clean-lined dining room kissed by light gently filtering through the windows, and presided over by a staff as genial as it is professional. Sunday mornings can be a delicate time—the cobwebs of the night before, the kids up and ready to go at an ungodly hour given the day of rest—but a place such as Paramour has the ability to finesse it in just the right way.


The Bloody Mary bar alone would be enough to accomplish that, but it’s far from the only allure of this very welcome, and thoroughly successful, Main Line newcomer.



139 E. Lancaster Ave., Wayne



Brian Freedman is a food and wine writer based in Philadelphia.