It occurred to me as I was sitting on the front patio of Loading... Gastrobrunch on a recent afternoon that in my nearly 33 years in Central Florida I had never been to downtown St. Cloud. And after a year of no travel, I relished the feeling of visiting someplace new, or at least new to me. It turns out there’s a lot of history in St. Cloud, but I’ll come back to that.
And besides the allure of a day trip – albeit one only a 40 minute drive away – I was enjoying a nice brunch on a beautiful day.
Loading... Gastrobrunch, which is owned by James Brady, Matt Rody and Jahnae Allen, occupies a small space in the Hunter Arms Hotel on New York Avenue, the road leading from U.S. 192 to the St. Cloud City Hall.
The menu, under the direction of chef Vaughn Collins, is an interesting read of breakfast and lunch items ranging from basic egg dishes, which the menu lists as “boring,” to more inventive and decidedly non-boring items like chicken and waffle tacos.
That’s the route my adventuresome travel companion took, choosing the version called Macho Waffle Tacos. The taco-shaped shells was fashioned out of the same material as a waffle ice cream cone. they were stuffed – and I mean stuffed, with big chunks of chicken that themselves were crusted in crushed waffle-cone crumbs, then topped with macaroni and cheese that had strips of candied bacon layered on top. The waffle cones and the candied bacon, plus a squiggle of sriracha maple syrup, gave the sweet notes that draw people to chicken and waffles in the first place. It was ordered with a generous side of grits topped with cheese. Delicious.
I went with an omelet – don’t call me boring! – choosing the Ultimate Breakfast. The fluffy omelet – which I should mention was also shaped like a taco shell so maybe we should just call it an egg taco and make it sound less boring – was filled with big cubes of ham, chorizo sausage, bacon and grilled onions, and topped with cheese. It was accompanied by roasted potatoes (very good) and two delicious biscuits with a ramekin of sausage grave to be used at will.
Service was friendly and attentive.
As I said, Loading occupies a space in the Hunter Arms Hotel, which was built by Grover C. Hunter, an Ohio mausoleum builder, and opened in January of 1927. The two-story hotel occupies the better part of an entire block and features 44 rooms, all on the second floor. A standard king room is available for under $100, according the the hotel’s website. And according to Florida Haunted Houses, it has a ghost named Vivian. Didn't see her, but then I guess you're not supposed to.
The architecture is referred to as Spaniflora, incorporating Spanish and Florida styles. There are a couple of Spaniflora items on Loading’s menu, too, as a sort of fusion cuisine. Like two destinations in one.
Loading... Gastrobrunch is at 1023 New York Ave., St. Cloud. It is open for brunch daily. The phone number is 407-593-0233.