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A really good high quality brunch?

What so you recommend to a foodie that is on the hunt for an excellent brunch?

My test for a quality restaurant brunch is - freshly baked bread.

Lately we tried the weekend brunch at "Abe and Louis" in back bay.
it wasn't too bad but I don't appreciate it when I am served sliced bread from a supermarket. Good service and nicely made eggs are good qualities, but not enough...

so... any great ideas??

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  1. Craigie on Main. I believe their bread is from Iggy's.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Crazy Egg

      My local supermarket sells Iggy's. Just sayin'.

      1. re: CapeCodGuy

        Yes, I understand. I am saying that Cragie has a great brunch. And giving full disclosure that their breads may be from Iggy's and not house made. However, IMO Iggy's bread is not like regular supermarket sliced bread. Certainly beats any S&S or Shaw's by a long shot.

        1. re: Crazy Egg

          I think ccguy's point was more that just because it's not baked in-house doesn't mean it's inferior bread.

          Perhaps Mistral's brunch meets the OP's standards. Never been but I hear they at least bake their own cinnamon rolls.

    2. I wouldn't think of refer to myself as a foodie, so I wouldn't know what to recommend to one, however in terms of hugh quality brunches, Mistral has the best I have had in these parts (a different league than Abe & Louie's).

      They definitely make their incredible cinnamon buns from scratch. I have no idea about the other breads, but we haven't had anything that wasn't excellent at their brunch.

      Good service and nicely made eggs - check.

      1. I *think* Henrietta's Table does their own bread, but you might want to call ahead to confirm. And maybe the buffet set-up is a deal-breaker?


        1. I think that "Eastern Standard" makes their own bread. Don't know about "the Blue Room" or "East Coast Grill", but their brunches are popular among the "foodies" here.

          Why are we using superfluous quotation marks?

          4 Replies
          1. re: justbeingpolite

            esk does not make its own bread.

            blue room is a buffet and it always feels chaotic for brunch.

            1. re: hotoynoodle

              ESK does make their own bread (http://www.bostonmagazine.com/restaur...) and as much as I like them at night, I don't think their brunch is anything to write home about.

              Truly great bread though is tough to find at most restaurants except for super high end imo, many of which are not going to do Brunch. But if you're looking for quality baked goods, we've had good brunches recently at both Island Creek and Craigie. ICOB had a great assortment of pastry-breads (scones, muffins, fruited cornbread, etc.) Craigie has a great house baked donut.

              1. re: Klunco

                ah, sorry, i see, but only since opening icob.

                the rolls at esk still suck.

                1. re: hotoynoodle

                  Agreed, although I like them better than the sliced bread they've been serving.

          2. I had a great experience at Mistral and regularly recommend it for brunch in the city. Their muffins are to die for!

            Gaslight and Hamersley's Bistro, both in the South End, are also excellent. You can't go wrong with any of those three.

            1 Reply
            1. re: TheGirlWhoAteBoston

              Given the outstanding quality of the dinner bread basket at Hamersley's, it's hard to imagine that the sourdough listed on the brunch menu wouldn't be top-notch.

            2. Lineage in Brookline is a very handsome spot with wonderful Parker House rolls at dinner so i'd think they'd have lovely in- house Brunch breads. Island Creek Oyster Bar has a honey glazed biscuit that is astonishingly moist and tender. East Coast Grill is one of my 2 fav brunches in Boston but the cornbread is just good. Tremont 647 has always done house baked brunch breads and treats for their Pajama Brunch. Highland Kitchen is totally funky but they do first rate hushpuppies and beignets at brunch. Their huevos rancheros are stellar because of their perfecto ranchero sauce. Love the happy energetic vibe (and food) at HK and ECGrill. Mistral is consistently raved on CH for their brunch, incl baked goods.

              1 Reply
              1. re: opinionatedchef

                Lineage had a nice basket of house made pastries available last time I went for brunch (admittedly a number of years ago) and makes for a nice relaxing white table cloth sort of experience.

              2. Mistral offers the best brunch I've had in Boston.

                11 Replies
                1. re: Blumie


                  Man, that is one expensive brunch, but this menu is also very inventive when it comes to the sweet elements, and I do admire that. I've always wondered WHY someone doesn't open a great breakfast place with a big variety of pancakes, waffles, french toast with lots of multigrain elements and many layers of flavors. (i.e. not just 'whole wheat with blueberries' yawn).
                  Brunch is such a big profit center , why not really make it exciting for the customer? Anyway, I know i'd spend a lot more at Mistral than i normally do, but i'm getting ready to spring for a splurge!...........

                  1. re: opinionatedchef

                    Brunch at Mistral is not significantly more expensive than other brunches in the South End, but is significantly better. I certainly agree that one could debate whether dinner at Mistral is worth the high price tag; I am fully convinced, however, that brunch at Mistral is well worth it.

                    BTW, I'm not convinced that "[b]runch is such a big profit center." Do you have support for that statement? Even at a place like Mistral, the average guest check is well below the dinner average. And although table turnover (a significant driver of profits) probably is higher at brunch than at dinner, that's generally only the case one or maybe two days a week.

                    [Edited to add: I did fine one piece on line that seems to support your view, although I can't tell whether it's a puff piece or not. http://restaurant-hospitality.com/con...]

                    1. re: Blumie

                      blum, pretty simple really:
                      eggs eggs eggs bread bread bread potatoes sweet bread motes of veggies and cheese, coffee, tea

                      food costs are as low as low can be for these items, and mark up is huge. really, an omelet plate might typically have a 60/75 cent food cost (barring foie or lox etc) and what are you paying for it??

                      1. re: opinionatedchef

                        Opin, food costs generally are less of an issue for a restaurant than real estate and labor costs. So while margins at brunch may be higher than at dinner, I still don't see that places make a killing at brunch. The average ticket is too low and it's just a one or two day a week thing.

                        1. re: Blumie

                          i believe i said that brunches are highly profitable- in and of themselves(i'm not talking about them as a ratio to the non brunch meals or in context of a year of total profits; and i didn't say anyth about a killing, just to clarify. Maybe you could have an interesting interchange w/ the Mistral GM next time you visit.......

                          1. re: opinionatedchef

                            how much "eggs eggs eggs bread bread bread potatoes sweet bread motes of veggies and cheese, coffee, tea" would a place have to sell all week while still paying for astronomical boston rent, liquor license, managing labor costs, etc.?

                            also? there is not a large culture for power breakfasting here in boston.

                            what would your brunch palace serve at night when 90% of bostonians actually want to eat out?

                            1. re: hotoynoodle

                              hotoy, your Fantasy Restaurant exercise has nothing to do with my comments!

                              1. re: opinionatedchef

                                you said this upthread:

                                "I've always wondered WHY someone doesn't open a great breakfast place with a big variety of pancakes, waffles, french toast with lots of multigrain elements and many layers of flavors. (i.e. not just 'whole wheat with blueberries' yawn)."

                                i'm answering that.

                                1. re: hotoynoodle

                                  The optimal model is one that most restaurants follow: they make their money primarily by serving dinner and maybe lunch, and then take advantage of the fact that the rent already is paid for and make some incremental profits by opening for Sunday brunch. Yes, the margins at brunch may be higher in percentage terms (although almost certainly not in dollar terms), but the model isn't going to work seven days a week.

                                  (That said, my go-to Mon-Sat breakfast spot is Henrietta's Table, which has more-than-respectable breakfasts at decent-for-a-hotel prices -- assuming you skip the ridiculously priced weekend brunch!)

                                  1. re: Blumie

                                    having worked in boston fine dining for 20+ years am quite aware of the economics, but it seems not everybody on this thread may say the same.

                2. Thanks everyone for your answers.
                  I will try your suggestion and will come back to report :-)

                  1. Just had brunch last week at the Beehive - highly recommend it. Great food, great service and, as long as the weather holds, outdoor seating! What's not to like?

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: freshbarry

                      freshb, i've been wondering about this place. the brunch menu is very broad with lots of neat touches.


                      What did you love? Have you had or seen the shrimp and grits and could you describe it? (Highland Kitchen's version is not a fav of mine though i really like HK.) Thx.

                      1. re: opinionatedchef

                        We had the pierogi's, the mushroom and leek omelet, and the local tomato salad.... All were excellent..... and everything coming out of the kitchen looked terrific, as well.

                    2. Anyone done Puritan & Co's brunch yet? definitely has homemade breads (fwiw...........), but no idea how any of it fares. http://www.puritancambridge.com/menus...

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: valcfield

                        I thought Puritan's brunch was excellent but I wasn't a fan of their baked goods. We didn't try the breads but did try the chocolate croissant, boston creme donut, and sticky bun. The best was the donut. The others were fine.

                        The savory brunch part was amazing though. I had the muscovy duck hash which had delicious browned bits on the side. A friend got the steak and eggs. Steak was perfectly cooked to a medium rare, flavorful and tender without being chewy. what really stood out was the hash brown. It was a long rectangle that was browned beautifully. When you cut into it, it kind of fell apart because it looked to be micro planed potatoes. Just delicious. We also split griddle cakes which were good. I'm not a pancake eater but the other two people loved them.

                        1. re: beetlebug

                          I didn't know they were doing brunch. Duck hash sounds amazing!

                          1. re: beetlebug

                            Agree on Puritans brunch. really wonderful

                        2. Recently went to Top Of The Hub For Sunday Brunch, great menu ,great service ,and a great view.

                          1. If you want to try something different at some point, Istanbul'lu does an excellent brunch, with excellent house-made breads/pastries. It's not fancy, and it's not classic American brunch, but it's great.

                            7 Replies
                            1. re: antimony

                              I was going to post about Istanbul'lu.....they have a nice breakfast selection, including really good, unusual pancakes.

                              1. re: Madrid

                                m, plse tell us more about those pancakes!

                                Istanbulu does a good shakshuka (poached eggs in tomatoey sauce) and i just saw that Beehive offers them too so i'm curious to try the B version (never been there.)

                                1. re: opinionatedchef

                                  Yum! I might have to try Istanbulu this weekend - can't believe I haven't been. I've been making shakshuka at home and I'm kind of obsessed. I didn't see it on Instanbulu's menu though? Any other egg recommendations? Those pancakes sound amazing too!

                                  1. re: kdemayo


                                    well i'll be darned- they've gone and extended their menu! I also do not see shakshuka (sp. diff in @ country) on the menu, though it is such a standard item, i'm sure they'd make it for you. (imo it was v good but not stellar.) I've not had the brunch pancakes but i do like their Mucvar- zucchini pancakes.

                                    1. re: kdemayo

                                      The cilbir is delicious -- very simple, but very tasty.

                                2. re: antimony

                                  Istanbul'lu has a great brunch! It was hard to decide what to get. The pancakes are a little fried dough-ish with feta crumbled on top and honey-- with a side of scrambled eggs, maybe. They have a bunch of egg dishes with veggies and/or Turkish sausage and pastrami-like meat. Turkish coffee and tea is always good, too. And their bread is definitely made in house

                                  1. re: wwarren

                                    i wish i liked that bread but i really do NOT like that spongey cakey texture.i must be the only one. give me a baguette or sourdough any day. What is turkish tea like? thx.

                                3. I really enjoyed a recent brunch at Gaslight. I particularly enjoyed the blueberry muffins (and I'm not a big muffin fan) that came in their bread basket. And the other food was great.

                                  1. Bumping up this post to say that we had a fantastic brunch yesterday at Mistral. Thanks to those who recommended it. I found the prices very fair for a high-end experience. The food was delicious, the portions were generous, the service was top-notch, and the menu had something for everyone (which included a teen and a gluten-free adult). It's a gorgeous space for a celebratory meal, as well. I had the lemon-poppyseed pancakes, which were outstanding, and my husband loved his BLT. We really appreciated not being rushed, even for a second, despite being seated when they opened and occupying a prime corner table for five. We didn't get the famed cinnamon rolls, but they looked great, and we plan to return for those and other tempting menu items.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: Northshoregirl

                                      Mistral has a great brunch- highly recc

                                      1. re: Northshoregirl

                                        Those lemon poppyseed pancakes may be the best pancakes I've ever head, anywhere. (Competition would be the blueberry pancakes at The Pitcher Inn in Warren, VT (only available if you're staying at the inn) and the blueberry pancakes at Clinton Street Baking Co. in NYC).

                                        I never get the cinnamon roles. They're amazing, but it's just too much food to get the cinnamon roles, the wonderful just-out-of-the-oven muffin that is served to every guest, and a breakfast entree. I am a big breakfast eater, but I can't do all that!