I used to be one of those people who, after waking up hungover on a Saturday or Sunday morning, only had one thing on the brain: brunch. I mean, how could anyone hate brunch? It stretches out almost the entire day, so you don’t have to worry about getting up early and missing breakfast. And, if you’re not in the mood for bacon and eggs, you can still get a sandwich or something more savory while your friend sits across from you chowing down on challah french toast. (Let’s also not forget the bottomless Mimosas or Make-Your-Own Blood Marys)
When I moved to Philadelphia, there were dozens of blogs about brunch: Who had the best menu, who had the longest lines, best drink specials, etc. I was both elated and overwhelmed; how would I ever possibly get to all these places and enjoy all this deliciousness? I started to set out in an attempt to make a small dent in the brunch-o-sphere, knowing full well that there just would never be enough weekends for me to enjoy brunch.
And then, something started to happen: The dynamic of brunch began to change. People who didn’t go to brunch were looked upon as lepers. (What do you mean you don’t like brunch? You do realize what it is right – it’s all your food dreams come true on one menu!) Restaurants that didn’t even have lunch menus started to notice how popular brunch had become and started opening on the weekends, dishing out marscapone stuffed french toast and red velvet pancakes alongside pasta and burgers. And that’s when brunch jumped the shark.
Any time a restaurant opens that would be a perfectly fine dinner dining establishment or a place to grab a quick bite for lunch, they immediately hop on the brunch bandwagon a few weeks later. Restaurateurs of Philadelphia, I’m here to tell you – YOU DO NOT NEED TO HAVE BRUNCH JUST TO GET CUSTOMERS TO COME IN YOUR DOORS!
Guys, I stand before you today to proclaim that I am officially OVER brunch.
I get it – most of you already have all that shit in your kitchens so it’s not a big deal to just schedule a couple more waiters on a 9-2 shift if it means more visibility for your restaurant. But you don’t need to open at 10 AM on a Sunday or add eggs benedict and some gross bacon flavored Bloody Marys to your menu just to generate business. It’s this simple; focus on doing the rest of the awesome good food shit that you do at night and leave it at that. Places that people normally associate with great steaks or burgers or fried chicken are trying to somehow be known for their generic, overpriced breakfast items, and that just seems like culinary burnout to me. In a city that already has ridiculously long brunch waits and a plethora of places where you just HAVE to try their vegan chorizo frittata, why add more confusion to the mix just for a few more measly dollars?
Alright, so I’m not here to totally shit all over brunch. I have had some pretty decent brunches before. (Of course, I wish a lot more places offered brunch during the week for when I have days off. A place I visited in Seattle does a brunch happy hour, Mon-Fri from 8-11 AM, with $8 for all menu items and $7.50 cocktails.) So I’ll share with you two of the best brunches I’ve had in Philadelphia.
The Khyber Pass Pub’s Bananas Foster French Toast: Despite having to wait 20 minutes to grab a seat at the bar at almost 2 PM (!) on a Sunday, and also despite waiting another 10 minutes for the bartender to even notice that I was there for me to put my order in, my food came out pretty quickly. The bread was nice and thick to soak up the rum sauce and the bananas were soft and sweet. (I kind of regretted not getting the beignets, but there’s always next time.)
Yep, I got a bloody mary, too. Guilty as charged!
Belgian Cafe’s Eggs Benedict: Eggs benedict is usually my go-to brunch order. Belgian Cafe kicked their shit up a notch by serving it on a motherfucking WAFFLE – then paired it with Lancaster ham and the freshest damn asparagus I’ve ever had in my life.
Always trying to decide between eggs or waffles? Now you don’t have to!
I think the next big trend should be breakfast for dinner, though. A few places have started to do late lunch brunch menus recently, and I predict that in a few years, that shit is going to take the food scene by storm. People will be rolling out in their PJs at 10 PM on a Saturday night just to get steak and eggs, do some tequila shots, and then hang out until last call at 2 AM and go to bed. It’ll be like brunch in reverse! Make it happen, guys (Just remember who gave you the idea.)