Chestnut's at the Adam's Mark Hotel, Fourth and Chestnut, 314-241-7400

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Nothing screams springtime Sunday morning like "Maybe I'll have a mimosa!" It's a five-word clean-slate creator, a declaration of independence. With a sip of sparkly citrus fuzz, the day ahead opens up like a magnolia blossom and the chores that once lay before you wither away. Laundry? Pish-posh! It can wait another day. "Maybe I'll have a mimosa!" -- a simultaneous celebration and annihilation. Sunday afternoon just got interesting.

And if you're going to divert yourself, you may as well go all the way: Plonk down a chunk of change -- $28, and almost worth it -- for Chestnut's famed champagne brunch, a feast of feasts, a slobbery buffet sent straight from heaven.

Walk in from Fourth Street and through the Adam's Mark's faux-gilded lobby (same one in every city), and immediately you're Nobody, from Anywhere. Anywhere in the world: Dubuque. Greenville. Either Springfield. Decatur. Even Des Moines. And on this particular Sunday, the one before opening day, hope springs eternal, even amid the fear, and the people are here, living it up -- "Go Cards!" -- pounding cinnamon buns, slurping oysters and shoving choco-croissants into their pie-holes. Go ahead, ingest one of 25 manifestations of quasi-highfalutin cholesterol. Oh, cholesterol!

But you need something to cut through the goo, of course, which is where our Sunday buddy the mimosa comes in. If ever there was an argument for drinking before noon, this a.m. aperitif is it: Fresh-squeezed orange juice mixed with three times the other kind of juice, sparkling wine. Drain a flute; get misty-eyed and bubbly. Fall in love with your eggs Benedict.

The Adam's Mark mimosa isn't special (if someone can find us a blood-orange mimosa, drop a line!). But then, you're not special, either. You're playing a role: Cardinal fan, eating brunch, day before big game. You've been calculated into existence; you are expected but invisible, a nobody who will disappear with your dirty plates. So, as an undercover St. Louisan, use it to your advantage: Wear last night's clothes, hit the buffet unworried about your lopsided hair. Who cares? You're just a visitor. You're never going to see these people again. You're headed back to Murphysboro.

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