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Brunches that get you excited?

I noticed one Hound raving about the brunch at Great Bay (here: www.chowhound.com/topics/423988 ), which I guess surprised me a little bit. I've considered trying it there, never have gotten around to it. It made me wonder: when was the last time I got really worked up about brunch?

It's a bit of a struggle to recall. First visit to The Neighorhood about twenty years ago, that was pretty impressive. Gospel brunch buffet at the old House of Blues (though it was mainly because they stuck a mike in my hand, so I could really embarrass my date.) First time at Blue Room's buffet. Finding jonnycakes on the menu at Deluxe Town Diner. First dim sum at Hei La Moon. First taste of the red flannel hash at Henrietta's Table. Banana pancakes at Rauxa (we must have gone back and had those ten times.) Lunch-y items (like soup) at Sel de la Terre. Discovering the B-Side was still serving brunch at 3pm after a night that had ended around 7am.

Okay, so I occasionally have gotten worked up over brunch, but it's not often. Mostly I feel bad for the staff, try not to be too much of a nuisance, and eat my eggs or waffles in silence. Union has a really pleasant one these days, though I suspect I just like the sunny atmosphere and good coffee and eye-openers: the food is merely fine, not extraordinary. I'm itching to get onto Hamersley's patio to try their new brunch.

Any other standout, rave-worthy brunch dishes or experiences? I mean, something that made you say, "Wow, dat was awesome!"?

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  1. Love the Neighborhood and East Coast Grill's fish tacos (only served at brunch).

    1. I'm pretty happy with Stella for a stand-by brunch, the food is good and with nice portions, the drinks are good and we usually have enough of them to make the poor waiter's afternoon a little more rewarding.

      But to your original question, it's not that exciting.

      Dim Sum with a few friends is ALWAYS exciting for me. I also used to get excited about brunch at the Tir na Nog, great Irish breakfast and it's always a good time to be completely sauced by 7pm. They had the best Sunday line up: breakfast, trivia, music, ashtrays.

      1 Reply
      1. re: sailormouth

        Along the same lines as the Tir na Nog breakfast, the Plough and Stars makes very good brunch fare -- more on the savory side than the pancakey/waffley side of things. Nice to start a Sunday with a pint or a very good bloody Mary.

        I enjoyed the breakfast at Tu Y Yo more than I expected, and the breakfast sandwich at B-side was really good. I have to be in the right mood for either of those places though.

      2. East Coast Grill - Tortilla Rellenos (stuffed with duck) and the grits with the roasted bananas.

        Northern Style chinese brunch from either Shangri La or Chung Shin Yuan. You just have to get past that this is not the "traditional" eggs, pancakes, waffles etc. But, these northern brunch menus are great. They serve items not usually on the dinner menus like the soy bean noodle salad, or seaweed salad, different kinds of dumplings and noodles. Also the soy bean milk (I prefer salty to sweet), the chinese crullers, the meat sandwiches, the pickled cabbages etc.

        1. I like the Sunday Jazz Brunch at Bob's Southern Bistro, mainly because the House of Blues closed, and it's satisfies my urge for for grits, collard greens, candied yams, fried chicken, black eyed peas, sweet potato pie, etc.

          The fried chicken is usually pretty good, but on my last visit a few weeks ago it was kind of dry.

          I really miss the HOB Gospel Brunch.


          Bob's Southern Bistro
          604 Columbus Ave, Boston, MA 02118

          2 Replies
          1. re: Infomaniac

            OMGGGGGG how Bob's has changed since I used to go to Bob the Chef's back in the day (mid-late 80s)!!!! First time I ever had Soul Food was at Bob's! Then I married into a Soul Food cooking family..so I was grateful for the introduction.

            Note on the Cambridge House of Blues.....about 4 hours after eating there for the first and only time in 1994, I went into labor with my first child! I think it was the chicken that did it. :)

            1. re: vermontpoet

              Huh...I don't remember the House of Blues chicken being that greasy back in 1994.

              just kiddin...good memories.

          2. the last time i can recall being excited about brunch was at the late perdix. nary an insipid eggs benedict dish in sight...

            2 Replies
            1. re: coookie

              I loved the egg sandwich with avocado at perdix. It was good, greasy and huge!

              1. re: lissy

                yeah, i was thinking specifically of that. it was significantly differentiated from other brunches, but without being too weird.

            2. I haven't gotten all that excited about too many brunches in or near Boston of late (though I've had some excellent brunches at Lake Pearl down in Wrentham, which is admittedly a fairly long trip from Boston).

              I guess my go-to place for brunch, if I really have one at all, is Doyle's in Jamaica Plain. Their food isn't all that exceptional, but it's the old-Boston atmosphere plus the pints of beer with my eggs that does it for me. Nothing like going there for a plate of chow and a beer or 5 on a cool fall day before kicking back to watch a Pats game (5 weeks and counting, BTW!)...

              1. I agree with The Neighborhood and B side. I went to The Neighborhood for brunch recently and it really hit the spot (it was also after a pretty late/crazy night). The B side brunch definitely surprised me in a good way. My friend an I split a dish that I don't quite remember the name of (had the word Hangover in it) with carne asada, tortillas, beans, and eggs. It was so good that my friend and I were fighting over the last bites!

                1. Has Slim been to "Arthur and Pat's" in Marshfield yet? Excitement worthy! Served everyday(in season).
                  Closest to my ideals of Bay Area faves "Mama's Royale Cafe"(oakland) ,"Homemade Cafe"(Berkley) and "Zachary's"(Santa Cruz) :)

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: Trumpetguy

                    Does Arthur and Pat's still have great fried clams? I still swoon thinking about a clam roll I had there. mmmmmmm

                    1. re: Trumpetguy

                      I think I saw Arthur & Pat's on the Phantom once, which makes me think that among other things, they do really big portions. What else can you tell us about it?

                      1. re: MC Slim JB

                        You should go! They serve breakfast and lunch--huge menu,large portions, but quality is top notch. I always have ordered an omelet w/pesto, eggplant and provolone served w/ homefries(choice of added cheese &/or onions) and homemade wheat toast.. Totally filling meal--enough for the day :) everything seems homemade ...pesto, roasted red peppers...

                        They do pancakes,waffles, benedicts, eggs, lobster, clams, sandwiches, lobster roll, pasta, on and on.

                        Fun place, good service, parking out the door, across from the ocean--Can you see I like the place?

                        honestly I have not had a better omelet in the Boston area!

                        1. re: MC Slim JB

                          Arthur and Pat's food is just great! I have never had a meal there that I didn't love. They take the idea of breakfast in a diner like setting and really step it up with their wonderful offerings. The Oh My G-d Platter is just that. It's poached eggs on a potato pancake (thin) with slices of smoked salmon and drizzled with creme fraiche. On the side of the plate is a small frisee and mesclun salad. Meanwhile you are wearing shorts with a bathing suit underneath and flip flops. Does it get better?

                      2. I was extremely excited when I discovered the pork hash at Matt Murphy's a while back. Chunks and shreds of moist, slightly salty pork, roasted potatoes and other root vegetables, topped with scrambled eggs, in a rather cheffy ring-molded presentation. It ranged from great to merely good on subsequent visits, and I haven't been recently so I don't know if it's still worthy, or even on the menu. But at its best it was worth a rave.

                        1. As a big fan of breakfast food, the term "brunch" often is a negative, as it often means that a lot of breakfast-like items will have been replaced on the menu with lunch-type items. Plus the price points will be higher, or it will be a fixed price brunch, which tends to punish those of us who prefer the lower cost breakfast items. So I get more excited about my $7.95 "lumberjack" breakfast (eggs, pancakes, bacon, sausage, potatoes, toast, coffee) at Joseph's Two in Waltham than I do about most brunches.

                          7 Replies
                          1. re: Blumie

                            Man, I forgot about Joseph Two's! I had a couple of great breakfasts there, and some decent lunches, too (pot roast, for one). Love that old-timey staff, the servers that look like they're out back smoking every ten minutes, unironically calling you "Hon".

                            I'll add my first brunch (weekend breakfast really) at the old Persy's in Kingston, with baked beans and great pancakes, and Commons Lunch in Little Compton, about the only exponent of thin-style jonnycakes I've been able to find lately. Both burned down in recent years.

                            1. re: MC Slim JB

                              Reminds me of Kelly's Diner in Somerville. Definitely old-timey staff --example in point: I went there this past weekend after not having been there in probably 6 yrs. Not only did I have the same waitress I'd had after all these yrs, but she still remembered me! Really good, simple diner food, prepared well and served quickly. That's the sort of place I still get excited about.

                            2. re: Blumie

                              Blumie, the New Yorker diner near Watertown Square has a Grand Slam breakfast for about the same or less, but subs French Toast for pancakes. You pay extra for a side of toast but buttered, toasted scali bread is worth the $1.50 or so to me. French toast is made with the same scali I think?

                              1. re: Dax

                                I recall the scali bread at the New Yorker tasting really good whenever I went there on a Saturday night after the bars closed. It has been awhile since I've been there; definitely need to get back.

                                1. re: Dax

                                  The New Yorker is one of those places that I've been meaning to go to for years and years, but never have made it, and I'm just so comfortable and happy at Joseph's. One of these days I'll make it there ...

                                  1. re: Dax

                                    You can do the same thing at Kelly's, Ball Sq in Somerville. They've got a breakfast w/two eggs, home fries, bacon or sausage, choice of toast (including scali) and pancakes and they always let me sub french toast. They cook the eggs perfectly. Home fries are sort of a cross btwn hash browns and home fries, they can be really crispy and almost a bit like a "potato pie." I think it runs something like $6.50 or so. A bargain.

                                    1. re: twentyoystahs

                                      Ahh, but at the New Yorker and apparently Joseph's you get double the swine. Everyone knows double the swine is double the pleasure!

                                2. I am a fan of the Neighborhood.

                                  I would also add Victor's on North Beacon in Watertown as a big breakfast kind of place - tons of good food, excellent value. I don't really live on that side of town anymore, so I haven't been in a while, but it's a good option.

                                  1. I mourn for Andy Husbands' breakfast pizza at Tremont 647.

                                    1. We had a very nice brunch at Bravo at the MFA last Sunday.

                                      We took MIL to the Hopper exhibition and had low expectations, but were pleasently jolted into new appreciation by the exhibit and the brunch.

                                      At the server's suggetion two of us enjoyed figs with ricotta, delicious and ample. I had three stalks of very nice asparagus with flavorful greens..

                                      Two of us enjoyed the steak and poached egg entree, and I found the three seared scallops with mango among the best I have had recently.

                                      The chocolate dessert was outstanding, leaving the very good sorbet in its wake.

                                      Our server was overwhelmed by the volume, which is so unfair as we recognize him from past visits, and he is truly great. MIL complained, and management should address the situation.

                                      I have viewed Bravo as a situational restaurant, but it was destination-worthy last Sunday.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: chowfamily

                                        Sorry for all the spelling errors - can't seem to get the edit function to work.

                                        1. re: chowfamily

                                          I also rarely get really excited about brunch (although I do love my eggs, bacon, and buttered toast on a weekend morning). However, I have truly gotten excited about the Huevos Rancheros at Metropolis. It is the best version of this dish I have ever tasted, and served on top of a unique and equally delicious black bean hash.

                                          1. re: Vdawg

                                            I was a big fan of the Huevos Ranceros at Claremont Cafe (RIP), haven't been to brunch at it's replacement Columbus Cafe nor have I had the version at Metropolis...

                                      2. my sister will kill me for posting this, but most recently we've been excited about toscanini's "breakfast at the big table" (sat and sun, 10-2). i think it's still relatively hush-hush as it's not usually too busy. we've each been twice, once separately, and once together. all times we've always ordered the fried egg sandwich and spicy mayo (so good). this past weekend we also tried the breakfast bread pudding (really good whipped cream!), yogurt/granola/honey, and yogurt pannacotta. and of course we ended brunch with a scoop of ice cream. she had burnt caramel lemon, and i had pistachio.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: lschow

                                          Burnt Caramel Lemon Ice Cream, thats sounds out of this world. I will not be able to stop thinking about it. I must go.

                                          1. re: lschow

                                            which toscanini's - the one on main st past central sq? the harvard one is down for the count due to harvard property reno.

                                            1. re: jtf5128

                                              The Central Sq has been the only outlet to offer breakfast. Check it out!

                                          2. Haven't been very satisfied with the Cantonese dim sum items, except for the late Pacific Garden. I've very fond of the Shanghainese and Northern Chinese "dim sum" menu on weekends at New Shanghai. Good pan fried meat dumplings (shen1 jian1 bao1, not potstickers) and pearl meatballs from handchopped pork belly. The flatbread (jia2 bing3) with sliced beef is also excellent, as are the ubiquitious soy milk and fried crullers.

                                            The Taiwanese brunch at Chung Shin Yuan is quite solid too.

                                            The Bristol Lounge at the Four Seasons serves breakfast till ~1pm. Very basic, but sometimes it's pleasant to pretend to be rich for a couple of hours.

                                            Neighborhood's got a really good morcella and the Portuguese brunch plate is very generous.

                                            1. you have to get to these places early. East Coast is pricey but decent. Neighborhood is always good but very crowded.

                                              JP has 2 legendary places, Centre St Cafe and Sorella's

                                              Due to the proximity (across the st) from my apt, I go to the Mass Ave Restaurant (typical diner) a lot - they do a mean cranberry blueberry pancakes. Fave place for the local cops to grab Bfast apparently.

                                              Not traditional "brunch places" but have been known to go to Taco Lupita (heck they're open and it's good stuff), and various indian places around cambridge (although surprisingly, haven't found an indian place i liked as much as this one place in Troy NY which was otherwise culinarily bland....)

                                              4 Replies
                                              1. re: jtf5128

                                                Could you post the name? My brother is an RPI guy still living in the area.

                                                1. re: chowfamily

                                                  Please do post about it, but please start a new thread on the Tristate board, where Troy, NY is discussed. Thanks!

                                                  1. re: The Chowhound Team

                                                    OK, fair enough, but jtf128 please don't make me wait or guess. I am looking for gift certificate worthy recommendations, and if you include a Boston-area tip - to make it relevant to the Boston board - so much the better. In return I recommend Punjab Cafe on 3A in Quincy for Indian food. and Little Q on for amazing Mongolian hotpot.

                                                2. re: jtf5128

                                                  Second on the Mass Ave Restaurant, for very much the same reasons. (doubly amusing as being a RPI grad I also have familiarity w/ Troy,NY hah).

                                                  To answer the OP, I haven't hit many proper 'brunch' places. I went to the Neighborhood once and like it. I'm usually the sort to hit up a dim sum type spot (generally Hei La Moon, sometimes Mary Chung's dim sum brunch).

                                                  The Picante (at least the one in Central Square) has a weekend brunch. It varies in quality - they used to give you that cinammon/clove syrup with the pancakes which was amazing.

                                                3. Mohinga (a noodle soup traditionally eaten for breakfast...NOTHING like pho) at Yo Ma in Allston. Wasn't an official menu item - I had to ask for it. Not the best rendition I have ever had, but damn, it's good.

                                                  5 Replies
                                                  1. re: HopeRI

                                                    I can't stand brunch as a general rule. Maybe because I'm an I Read Kitchen Confidential poseur. In any case, a few exceptions:

                                                    (1) Eastern Standard: You already know about the cocktails here. If you're going to have a Bloody Mary, especially in the morning, you may as well have it made right. Besides the atmosphere, I like that the ES brunch menu leans toward the lunch-y side of brunch, yet can satisfy the sweet tooths. I like the duck confit salad. But I'd have to say there are few more brilliant culinary inventions (or variations-on-a-theme) than Steak and Eggs Frites.

                                                    (2) Bristol Lounge: Every once in a blue moon I get the hankering for a civilized meal in the morning. The BL's crabcakes (and eggs??) entree is perfection.

                                                    (3) Petit Robert Bistro: Yes, the meal is technically called "lunch" (starts at 11). But with so many omelettes and items like Eggs Benedict, Smoked Salmon Croissant, and crepes on the lunch menu, it may as well be brunch. (Pancake cravers will be sad; though the website reveals a "pastry bar" menu.) I really like the Salad with Leek Vinaigrette and Grilled Duck Breast, and the Grilled Bluefish (right now). Note: I've never understood the obsession with PRB at dinner---I've only ever had mediocre meals there.

                                                    (4) Metropolis Cafe: I grudgingly will admit that the brunch here is great. But I think one of the greatest travesties is that thanks to the popularity of its brunch, the well-conceived, well-executed, and inexpensive dinner menu has been given short shrift. Well...more tables for me, then.

                                                    1. re: wittlejosh

                                                      I don't think it's an "obsession" with PRB by anyone. I think a lot of folks that are happy with a a place that does what they feel is competant french bistro fare for under $20 a plate.

                                                      1. re: tamerlanenj

                                                        Fair enough. I just haven't had anything that great there. I'm all for reasonable price points!

                                                      2. re: wittlejosh

                                                        I love Metropolis brunch (and dinner) too. Haven't been to Petit Robert all year but am excited to hear they have bluefish now, yum. Do they have it at dinner too? (I ask because I'm more likely to go there at night, but it would raise the question why you don't like it for dinner!)

                                                        1. re: BostonCookieMonster

                                                          I see online that they DO have it for dinner, albeit with a fancier preparation than lunch.

                                                          I suppose I could forgo my usual steak frites or duck confit (my French bistro/brasserie standbys) for bluefish and quit my complainin'!

                                                    2. Henrietta;s Table at the Charles Hotel in Cambridge has quite a buffet, Also the Blue Room in East Cambridge has a great brunch buffet,

                                                      1. Had brunch at Deep Ellum this past weekend and it's worth headed out for. Mrs. Moglia is a transplant from North Carolina and was happy to finally find biscuits and gravy worth eating up north. Menu is fairly non-adventurous but the house made sausage is tasty, the eggs are fluffy and the cocktails are a nice way to start the weekend. Bloody Mary comes with a pickled green bean!