Sunday, February 28, 2010

Brunch: Mission Aborted

In NY, brunch is a spectacle. No one gets up particularly early, but by 11 am, an entire city has poured out into the streets, and most restaurants serving brunch are packed to the gills. Huge groups of people spill onto the sidewalk just outside the restaurant's door, and waits are epic. It is not unheard of to wait an hour or more for brunch.

In fact I remember a cold January Sunday years ago when a friend and I waited something like and hour and a half to eat at Friend of a Farmer, and truly stellar brunches like Clinton Street command waits of upwards of 2 hours. All of that said, waiting an insane amount of time for brunch was one of the things I most definitely did not miss when I moved to Atlanta.

When we first moved here, we used to wander into Food 101 at primo brunch time and be so thrilled that there was no wait for such a great brunch. It's been a while since we've been back to that restaurant, now called Rosebud, but today we decided to forgo our normal weekend bacon and eggs routine in favor Chef Eyester's hearty fare.

Imagine my dismay to arrive and find the wait was 45 minutes for brunch. Seriously? There is simply no brunch food that merits such a wait in my book (OK maybe Clinton Street pancakes, but that is where I draw the line.) We decided to wait a bit to see if we could snag at seat at the bar. Fifteen minutes in, some lady who's face was painted with Canadian maple leaves starts stalking seats at the bar, and we realize that despite being there before her, we were going to get screwed if a seat came open, so we gave up and headed home. (Note to the aforementioned lady from the Great White North - hockey games are no excuse to step outside of the confines of your home or a bar dressed up like a flag).

Now I'm thrilled for the team at Rosebud that they're doing so well now, but I feel like I have to mourn the passing of a beloved brunch. To me, the key prerequisites for weekend brunch are that it be both relaxing and somewhat flexible. I don't want to make brunch reservations, and I certainly don't want to wait a crazy amount of time. It just defeats the whole point of a lazy Sunday for me. Figure by the time I've gotten to a restaurant, I've already been awake for at least an hour, so I can't very well go another hour without food, right? You do not want to be around me when I'm that hungry, I promise you!

So alas, I guess I need a new standby brunch option - the kind of place I can walk into on a Sunday, unplanned, and enjoy some coffee and a paper and still get really good food. Sigh...am I living in a dream world? Are Atlantans becoming brunch freaks who overrun any restaurant with great breakfast options? I've always been shocked by the crowds who wait endlessly for Highland Bakery, but I thought that was an anomaly. Are there still hidden gems out there where I won't have to get in a fist fight with a Canuck for a seat?

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