Best Brunch Atmosphere - 2001
Piper Palm House
The restored Piper Palm House is an oasis of serenity, a place to sip coffee on Sunday morning and eat, if not beignets, then the spongy shell-shaped cookies known as madeleines. (It's somewhat appropriate, given that the restaurant is named Caf Madeleine.) Tall, restored nine-over-nine windows rise to a vaulted ceiling that tops out around 30 feet, and a gushing fountain in the center of the long open space supplements the piped-in light jazz with the visceral relaxation of flowing-water sounds. As you'd expect, plants are all around, but the south wall also sports pedestals mounted with the deteriorating but still imposing busts of immortal musicians -- Gounod, Verdi, Mozart, Rossini, Wagner, Beethoven. Tables are made of garden-furniture-style wrought iron, with a fresh flower adorning each and accompanying green-vinyl-wicker chairs in a nod to sensible longevity. It's all so ... civilized.