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Brunch: What is it?

According to several sources ''Brunch should have its own menu or at the very least some brunch specials .Most of the time, brunch should be a fixed price affair, so you will know what the meal is going to cost you before you even sit down.'' From what I see, in Toronto, many restaurants' brunches are constituted of items belonging to their breakfast or lunch menu, each with a different price, and no prix fixe. I'd like to have my chowhound friends' opinion on that. To me, this does not meet the definition of ''Brunch''. Thanks !

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  1. I don't think brunch needs to be prix fixe, nor confined to any particular range of hours, but generally substantial enough to be the first of only two meals that day.

    1. If you Wiki Brunch..it has none of those attributes that you stated.. in fact it says that it should include the standard breakfast items but added to that some other more filling options. It says it should start after 11 or else it is breakfast. No mention i smade of fixed price but they do say it can be either / or a buffet or ordered off a menu.

      All Buffets tend to be fiexed price and most ordering from the menu is individualy priced as that only makes sence for a restaurant as it is very difficult to pay for individual items at a buffet or to have a fixed price when you can order anything you want off a menu.

      I would pick better sources for your information...

      1 Reply
      1. re: chowspotting

        11 am is too late. For an early riser like me, 11 is lunchtime. Most places I have been to start at 10.

      2. Brunch is the meal that would fall between breakfast and lunch if you were eating breakfast and lunch, which you probably are not, because you are eating brunch. It has its own menu the way breakfast, lunch & dinner do. I would say those are the only two hard & fast rules, although I wouldn't eat a brunch that didn't involve eggs. Or a bagel & lox. But preferably eggs.

        4 Replies
        1. re: small h

          I don't agree with your only hard and fast rules.

          From Webster dictionary

          Definition of BRUNCH : a meal usually taken late in the morning that combines a late breakfast and an early lunch

          Origin of BRUNCH breakfast + lunch First Known Use: 1896

          Who knew? 1896

          This is one of those topics that will get a zillion posts and I usually avoid because I get sick of seeing it pop up on my profile. However, in this case, so far everyone is soooooo wrong

          There is one and only one requirement for brunch ... extended breakfast and lunch hours ... that is you can have breakfast items later than usual and lunch items earlier than usual.

          In San Francisco, a weekend brunch can start at 8 am. But that usually means I can order some lunch type of dish that early such as a burger or salad.

          It can be a buffet or a la carte.

          Usually it has selected items from both the lunch and breakfast menu plus a few special dishes just for brunch. Often it is restricted to weekends, but there are some places that serve weekday brunch.

          Of course there are exceptions. Some places just offer their regular breakfast menu with a few extra specials and extend the breakfast hours. I went to one place that only had lunch items, but served earlier ... that kind of ticked me off. I'm in the camp that wants at least one egg-based dish on the menu for brunch.

          1. re: rworange

            I don't see how what you wrote ("a meal usually taken late in the morning that combines a late breakfast and an early lunch" and "selected items from both the lunch and breakfast menu plus a few special dishes just for brunch") is different from what I wrote ("the meal that would fall between breakfast and lunch if you were eating breakfast and lunch" and "It has its own menu"). You can eat brunch at 8am if you like, but you can also eat breakfast at 6am. So...what part of my post do you disagree with?

            1. re: small h

              I don't beleive it has to have its own menu

              From personal experience it doesn't need to be between certain hours.

              1. re: rworange

                Kinda hair-splitting, no? Because "a few special dishes just for brunch" means the menu is different from either the lunch or the breakfast menu - hence, its own menu. And as to the hours, I think you'd agree that brunch cannot be served at 8pm.

        2. Obviously a coined phrase from breakfast and lunch, I would say between 11 and 12.30 to start eating it and a mix of both meals. As others have said it probably has eggs but not entirely, because bagels and their add ons can also be brunch. Breads, quiches, pastries and danishes, kedgeree, bacon, even sliced deli meats and cheeses can be involved. I think it's more of a time of day thing.

          1 Reply
          1. re: smartie

            To me, it's a time of day thing too. I used to brunch a lot more when I was out late the night before :-). Now I mostly breakfast, because I'm doing it before 11 am per posters above, but I'm eating similar stuff -- eggs benny, omelettes, bacon and eggs). I don't think it's a sin to have a lunchier item for brunch however if that is what you fancy, and there are many such items on the brunch menus around here (sandwiches, maybe even the odd pasta, etc). A nice cocktail doesn't hurt either, and I tend not to order cocktails till after 11 am, so they would qualify as a brunch item in my book.

            These days I love to go for lupper at about two or three in the afternoon, but that is another post...

          2. I skip breakfast to have brunch because it means I get to have lunch earlier.
            Nothing to do with prices!

            1. I don't how brunch is normally served in Canada but the brunches I've eaten and seen advertised (most often Easter and Mother's Day ads) were one price and a buffet with both breakfast and dinner type foods such as ham, beef, turkey carving stations,etc.) Here in Minnesota a more normal starting time for brunch is 10am and not 11am. and I've seen them run until 3pm on Sundays.

              2 Replies
              1. re: John E.

                I know what you mean by those crazy brunch buffets, John E. I went to one once with my parents-in-law when they still lived in Winnipeg. Unbelievable number of dishes of all stripes, from bacon and eggs to the carving stations you mentioned. I know it was an all inclusive (and high) price but don't remember what time it started...

                We went for brunch yesterday here in Vancouver and had perogies and huevos rancheros, respectively, both of which qualify in my book.

                1. re: grayelf

                  I would expect to see perogies on a buffet in Winnipeg and I'm maybe a little surprised to see them in Vancouver. I've never seen them on a buffet here, only at family meals.

              2. Brunch = breakfast-ized lunch or lunchified breakfast; NOT an extended hours breakfast.

                Brunch items should NOT be taken directly from the breakfast menu or the lunch menu; they should be adaptation from one and the other or completely different items.

                I've not been to a brunch place with a prix fixe menu in a long while (or ever at all) , all of the places I usually go to in Montreal the menu items are "à la carte"; no freebies or "included" stuff (except maybe for simple filter coffee)


                1. As I was reading through this thread it occurred to me that the concept "brunch" has a social component, maybe because brunch time is often working time. Do we associate brunch with days-off, entertaining in our home or somebody else's, meeting friends at a restaurant, being in a laid-back mode? For example, I can't imagine a workplace cafeteria offering a "Brunch Special". Brunch is eaten at an hour that allows us to sleep a little later and to sit with extra coffee and talk and talk. It's a visiting kind of meal.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Querencia

                    I like Querencia's points.

                    For me, I associated brunch with 1. time off and 2. entertaining in my home.

                    Last summer I hosted a brunch for friends from out-of-town. To me, it's a social, yet foodie-time. I always have some sort of party/breakfast beverage (hence, it should be when you and your guests are off work, the weekend), like champagne/orange juice cocktail.

                    And I have it with little fancy finger foods that while they seem breakfasty, really are not breakfast yet not lunch either, mini quiches for example, mini bagels with lox and cream cheese and capers, plate of fruits and cheeses, strawberries dipped in chocolate and a wonderful table set up.

                  2. Yes, definitely, brunch is the combination of breakfast and lunch, and IMHO should include choices that would fall on either menu, plus some extra stuff. My husband works weird hours, and he, our daughter, and I are not Morning People, so when we have a day together, more often than not we'll be out at 11:30ish looking for a place to have coffee, maybe a mimosa, and relax over...well, admittedly...a somewhat bigger meal. One of us may be into breakfast; pancakes, eggs. bacon, while another will be into lunch; cheeseburger, salad, etc. .It is also nice to be able to have something we don't eat every day...breakfast pizza, bagels and lox, croque monseiur (my daughter is fond of mussels, which I'm not about to fix for breakfast at home). This habit also allows for an early dinner...say, 4 or 5pm, which means no standing in line if we go out or, if we dine in, the dishes and everything are cleaned up by 6 or 7.
                    As to rules, I say 10am to 1pm, have a good selection to choose from, and relax.

                    1. If you can drink alcohol in a restaurant before noon without seeming a total lush, it's brunch.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Mestralle

                        Funny. However, in the San Francisco area .... filled with lushes ... there are a lot of places that serve mimosas with breakfast ... and some even have Bloody Marys too.

                        1. re: rworange

                          True. I read your post above and got very nostalgic for lazy, booze-filled brunches at City Tavern (I lived in San Franciso in the late '90s, early '00s).

                        2. re: Mestralle

                          I used to live in NYC, and many restaurants start serving brunch menus on weekends at 9 or 10 AM, but because of blue laws, on Sunday restaurants can't serve alcohol before noon. So if Sunday brunch isn't complete without a bloody or mimosa, your definition (which I like) did not apply.

                        3. From the Simpsons:

                          "It’s not quite breakfast, it’s not quite lunch, but it comes with a slice of cantaloupe at the end. You don’t get completely what you would at breakfast, but you get a good meal."

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: FrankD

                            Nice one, Frank -- I frequently find I am happy to give the Simpsons the last word, on many important topics :-).

                          2. I recently worked in a restaurant that don't serve breakfast but does serve brunch on Sundays between 11 a.m - 3 p.m. They described brunch as a combination of breakfast & lunch. Their menu is a combination of items from their lunch & dinner menus (burgers, sandwiches, prime rib, pasta) and breakfast items created specifically for brunch (salmon benedict, egg skillets, pancakes, etc) . It is priced a la carte/off the menu and not buffet.

                            Not every restaurant that offers brunch has an already priced menu unless its a buffet. In NY, for example, buffet restaurants are almost non existent with the exception of maybe a few Indian places. Yet, there are many places that offer brunch and either has a set menu with a la carte or a prix fixe pricing