By Julie Lawrence Special to Published Jan 30, 2006 at 5:29 AM

Brunch has never really been a very veggie-friendly meal, at least as far as most restaurants in the land of cheese and sausage are concerned. Sure, there are often vegetables involved, but they are usually usurped by a smattering of eggs, bacon and melted cheeses. While undeniably tasty, this lineup isn't exactly ideal for the slice of the population who are vegan, vegetarian or just want to start off the day somewhat healthily.

Enter the ever-intriguing, sometimes intimidating, but oh-so delectable tofu scramble. Although the concept is simple -- replace scrambled eggs with scrambled tofu and spice accordingly -- like a true art form, no one kitchen in this city does it the same. Tofu is extremely versatile, which is part of what makes it such a fun choice. While Beans and Barley may have pioneered this soy-licious trend years ago, there are now several places in Milwaukee offering this tofu treat.

The many varieties of the tofu scramble:

235 S. 2nd St.

Known here as The Kelly Todd, this vegan scramble is a largely portioned and beautifully presented breakfast masterpiece. Sautéed leeks, mushrooms, morsels of vegan sausage and other assorted vegetables accompany the large soft chunks of tofu. Sides of biaggo toast and vegan hash browns complete the palate pleasing plate.
Price: $8

Beans and Barley
1901 E. North Ave.

Like many restaurants, Beans starts off with firm, non-herbed Simple Soyman tofu, but then they add a bit of tahini, giving it its signature rich, bold flavor. They scramble it up with tomatoes, mushrooms and scallions, and pair it with a healthy portion of parsley shallot potatoes and toast, making for a completely satisfying meal.
Price: $5.50

Comet Café
1947 N. Farwell Ave.

Comet offers brunchers the option of ordering the Simple Soyman herbed tofu scrambler a la carte for $5.50 (Look under the "Two Egg" breakfast and substitute tofu for the eggs). The full entrée, which is dotted with full peppercorns, comes with a side of toast and hash brown-like potato cakes.
Price: $6.75

Hi Hat
1709 N. Arlington Pl.

The Hi Hat's version of the scrambler is probably the fluffiest around. Sautéed asparagus, red pepper, mushrooms and leeks surround the large tofu pieces, which look beautiful and tempting along side four large grilled Texas toast points and a raspberry vinaigrette-tossed fruit salad.
Price: $9

2491 S. Superior St.

The Palomino likes to do everything just a little different and their tofu scramble is no exception. Going Southwest style, they take their Simple Soyman herbed tofu and spice it up with corn, onion, green pepper, scallions, tomatoes and red beans. For added protein and flavor, they toss slices of vegan Tofurky brats into the mix. Sides include a scrumptious helping of vegan cornbread with vegan maple syrup or an English muffin.
Price: $7.95

Riverwest Co-op
733 E. Clarke St.

This is hearty eating at its healthiest. Tossed in turmeric for a brilliant yellow hue, their Simple Soyman herbed tofu is matched with an abundance of organic veggies -- usually carrots, onions, mushrooms, spinach and broccoli (but not always). The heaping portion leaves only enough room on the plate for a pile of organic potatoes.
Price: $5

Julie Lawrence Special to staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.

As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”