My Beautiful Wife and I spent June running around the upper Midwest like crazy people. Now that things have settled down it's time to recall some of the ups and downs of our peregrinations.

Let's start with a down.

For years we and our friends had a tradition of taking brunch before attending the performances by the Minnesota Opera at the Ordway, just across Rice Park from The St. Paul Hotel. So we always took our brunches at the hotel's Grill Room in the beautifully remodeled old hotel.

As a rule, I detest brunches because they're featured abundance comes too early in the day and somehow I don't want to eat eggs with green beans, and desserts and prime rib and granola cereals and shrimp cocktail followed by pancakes and maple syrup. Some folks like that, but not me because I was always afraid of falling asleep to the melodies of Wagner and beginning to snore louder than the flying Dutchman.

So the St. Paul Grill offered a brunch that filled my bill because it was offered a la carte and you were allowed to select anything from a vast menu, so you didn't have eat runny egg yolk lapping up to your prime rib. The Prix Fixe also offered a free mimosa and a huge basket of homemade breads, both savory and sweet, with butter. So we could nibble on a biscuit or bun while pondering the menu. The B.W. always ordered the same: Eggs Benedict, which substituted a crab cake for the usually tough and tasteless Canadian bacon, and of course, homemade Hollandaise sauce. Delish. Prices weren't cheap by any means, but no worse than any hotel breakfast.

Three of us dined there recently before attending an afternoon performance at the Ordway. We hadn't been in the room for ages, but to our dismay we found the times they are a-changing.

The Grill still offers a brunch special on Sunday, but it's not quite the same. No mimosas. No bread basket. After a lengthy wait the server brought us a giant, dinner-plate sized caramel roll, which replaces the once popular bread sampler. By the time that rolled around, we were so hungry we wolfed down the caramel roll, gooey and super sweet.

So when our meals came, we had no appetite. Our friend's mushroom omelet was gigantic, but the egg component looked like a yellow vulcanized innertube and the mushrooms overwhelmed the whole dish. B.W. fared better, with eggs benedict on a bed of smoked salmon. To pare down prices I skipped the coffee which was extra and settled for the cheapest brunch on the menu. Two eggs served one-eye style, hashed browns and limp bacon. That came to $14.95.

We waddled over to the Ordway, but I didn't fall asleep thinking about the tab-$85 with tip.

(To be continued)