If you must have brunch south of the river, the question is not whether you’ll be shelling out a pretty penny but whether it’s worth the price you’ll be paying. For brunch à la mode surrounded by Seoul’s elite, Queens Park in Cheongdam is the place to be. Undoubtedly inspired by the neighborhood in London, the elegant high ceilings and porch seating make for an atmosphere fit for Her Majesty. While popular items on the menu include sandwiches with a side salad and fries, we’d recommend the blueberry pancakes with seasonal fruits. Served with a light cream and a small additional helping of blueberries, the fruit is incredibly fresh and the pancakes aren’t overbearingly sweet. If you’re a fan of having some liquor with your meal, note that only beer is served with brunch.
The restaurant’s name means “Sky of Monet” in French. And unlike most bars with dim lighting, this venue offers a more uplifting atmosphere. Operating as a café on the first floor and a bar in the basement, food items like crepes and quiches can be served to those sitting downstairs at the bar (last orders at 9pm). When you enter the premises, you are greeted with a glass of 30-year-old Ballantine’s and the fragrances of the numerous candles. Once seated, a bottle of San Pellegrino and a small platter of cheese and fruits are presented.
After receiving training from Michelin-starred restaurants as Nobu and French Laundry, the owner and head chef of the Bistrot de Yountville presents French cuisine without fuss. The restaurant opened in 2009, at a time when the trend of chefs-as-owners was on the rise in Cheongdam. This place has since garnered many devoted regulars and established a firm reputation for its quality French cuisine. The sense of intimacy at Bistrot de Yountville is its greatest virtue. From the hors d’oeuvre to dessert, each and every dish is well worth your attention. Bistrot de Yountville is also an excellent place to take a date.
SMT Seoul, a food complex in Cheongdam run by SM Entertainment, has high ceilings, a wall lined with luxury sauces and an even more luxurious interior that may feel unsettling at times. Here, you can select from the menu, which features Korean food, and order afternoon tea and cocktails as well. SMT Seoul is a harmonious marriage between the luxury of Cheongdam and SM’s identity. SMT Tokyo in Japan and SMT LA in the States are expected to open this year. Play Ground The first and second floors of this complex are named the Play Ground, which offers casual dining at affordable prices. Lunch sets are from a variety of cuisines, including Korean grilled fish, Japanese rolls and sushi, pasta and steak dishes. With signature desserts from Japanese patisserie, Mont St. Clair, the desserts here are equally delicious.
The word brasserie conjures up worn but polished counters, nonchalant mustachioed servers and delicious, simple French cuisine served unpretentiously at reasonable prices. Maison de la Catégorie gets almost all of these right (maybe not the mustaches, but we’ll be reasonable). Unlike many of the fine dining establishments that fill Cheongdam, they focus on simple, filling dishes and familiar dessert favorites. Their shrimp soufflé and lamb are both excellent entrée selections, and the ice-box cake layered with cream and cookies is wildly popular (with good reason). About that atmosphere: Maison de la Catégorie is more than a corner brasserie. It’s beautifully appointed, with high ceilings and an eye-catching terrace.