Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Rant: Brunch is for Suckers

I am not the first person to disparage brunch, nor will I be the last. But let's face it, brunch sucks.

First off, if your Saturday night is at all successful, then you are waking up with a hangover. Maybe you can add to this hangover the slow realization that after the third bourbon drink you convinced yourself that a cigarette was exactly what you need. Couple that with the 8 shots of Jagermeister and your palate is shot like J.R.

But someone says, "Hey let's go eat brunch." Let me translate that, "Some asshole says let's get duped into paying too much for eggs with stuff on top." So you head out into the harsh of day, driving some god forsaken distance, the whole while your stomach rolling around like a club kid on ecstasy. When you get to the brunch spot there is an interminable line, hope for lukewarm coffee and pray for a waitress whose last table didn't stiff her on the check. Face it at this point. the 8th shot of Jagermeister was a better idea.

OK, so maybe you aren't hungover on Sundays. Maybe you are a responsible adult whose typical Sunday includes things like children and church services, and brunch is how you celebrate the simple pleasures of the Lord's day. That is wonderful, just know you will be surrounded by people who are not like you. And you will hear their conversations recapping debauchery. For instance, had you been sitting next to us at Bouchon in Vegas two weekends ago, you would have heard (ooops, what happens in Vegas....)

Don't get me wrong, restaurants (at least the business manager) love brunch. $6 for a glass of crappy sparkling wine and Tropicana? Mimosa me some money.

$8 for a Bloody Mary? Have two.

$14 for two poached eggs with some bacon underneath, a ladle of hollandaise, and half of an English Muffin? Are you kidding me, this is like robbing a children's candy bank!

Now an omelet is a beautiful thing. Thick and rich with just a hint of crispness, stuffed with molten cheese, and maybe a little bit of chili on top; that is good eating. Poached eggs with creamy sauce is deliciousness incarnate. A thick cup of coffee with cream and a wee dram sounds perfect.

But you won't order something that simple. Instead you will get deterred by the appetizers or some special omelet involving crabmeat. Case in point, Lindsay last Sunday at Elizabeth's.* I lobbied her to get the Redneck Eggs (fried green tomatoes with poached eggs). "No", she said, "I want a bunch of the appetizers instead."

So here came boudin balls, fried chicken livers, and a fried grit cake topped with tasso gravy. The boudin balls were spicy and crisp but the harsh mustard sauce unsettled the stomach. The fried chicken livers were a disaster: muddy, mealy, and soggy. The grit cake sat in the stomach like last night's regrets, but the tasso gravy was tasty. Of course since a hangover was involved, after a few bites she was tired of eating. "I ordered very poorly," Lindsay remarked.

Just avoid brunch. The waiters don't want to be there and neither do the cooks. Do the right thing and just eat at home. Or order the simplest thing on the menu. And Jazz Brunch? What psychopath came up with that idea?

Note: I am not holding this against Elizabeth's. I refuse to judge places on a meal I hate. Sorry you had to be the whipping gal.


Celeste said...

Boy, do I agree: drove past the Ruby Slipper on Sunday AM and saw piles of people waiting in line for a seat...why? Why would you spend an otherwise lovely Sunday AM sitting on a curb in Mid-City? Bah to brunch, I say. (Except for the latin tapas brunch at Cafe Atlantico in DC.)

Dave Gladow said...

Generally, brunch is a disaster. I only think brunch works successfully when you treat it as the name implies: as a mix of breakfast, lunch, and complete excess.

Ergo, sign me up for all the alcohol and coffee I can drink while I order the fried chicken biscuit smothered in gravy and eggs with a side order of cheese fries. Anything less than total stomach annihilation is pointless.

Editilla~New Orleans Ladder said...

Brunch USED TO BE a great idea.
Indeed, we used it as a Cure for Hangovers, where you could get some good fats for your gasping liver to metabolize (instead of only last night's alcohol) and still have easy access to good Bloody Marys to spice of the edges of a world obviously gone mad that early in the day.
All this other shat we must pass over in silence... as we have Blackened Out for that dirty work. :)
Thanks yous.

Susan said...

You'll get no argument from me. I love brunch when it is done well. I have eaten good AND bad brunches at Elizabeth's, Dante's Kitchen, even Commander's Palace (and I've had mediocre brunches at too many places to count). A good brunch can fun, and even soothes the soul. But a bad brunch is disappointing. I will probably always be on a quest for good brunch but more often than not, I won't find it.

Leigh C. said...

One Mother's Day, we had a wonderful brunch at the Marigny Brasserie. The next year, we decided to go there again, and it was Godawful.

I've had good brunches at Cafe Degas, Arnaud's, and Commander's, but it is very hit-or-miss at most other places. And it had so much potential....

Megan said...

I agree. After reading Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential, I'm kind of grossed out by brunch. He painted me a picture of a hodge-podge of leftovers from the busy weekend, which one chef/cook tries to make into a "brunch special". Gross. That, combined with the waits, crappy mimosas and fluff generally involved with brunch, makes me just want to stay at home. Plus, if I say at home, I'm guaranteed good coffee, good prosecco mimosas, freshly fried eggs, and a pile of ads from the Sunday paper—that's my kind of simple pleasure.

Alex said...

Successful Saturday night for me is coming home late and sleeping in Sunday. Get a late brunch, which by then is technically lunch — brunch only because it's breakfast food at a non-breakfast hour.

On the subject of Ruby Slipper: At 1 p.m.? No line, and a whole lot of stuff and botttomless coffee for, like, $15. I'm OK with that.

Get to know your friendly neighborhood waitstaff and reap the benefits of good service and bonus food.

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with your point on the hilarious cost of eggs at brunch, and of brunch in general. And while you excused yourself from making Elizabeth's the sole villain, I still feel like I need to say something at least in that restaurant's defense: The brunch menu there, while pricey, includes things that MOST people could not make at home, and if they did, it would take a lot longer than they have to wait for a table. Also, brunch at Elizabeth's can either be an experience in wonderful excess, or it can be painstaking way to ease a hangover with sustenance. I believe it is what you make it: In the former you throw your wallet and cares to the wind, and order a mimosa 'kit' (or bloody mary's) and get re-liquored up while enjoying the rustic atmosphere with friends. The latter is what you so eloquently described - brunch can be an expensive chore if you're just looking to line your worn-out stomach and replenish your bloated liver.

Jones said...

I'm with Alex. It's all about timing. If you are hungry at noon, a little strategy goes a long way. A nice steaming bowl of pho in lieu of long lines and floppy stomach is worth the extra-second to realize there's a long, painful road ahead if you don't plan. But that's just me, a planner. Recent trips to Mondo has me believing in some sort of brunch revolution. Ala Butcher, Martin's Wine Cellar, and now Mondo, there are a few establishments doing it right. They are all offering items not normally on the menu, at a fair price, and aren't some concotion of leftovers or misorders. Check out Mondo. $10 plate of migas and carnitas hits the spot. Oh, and little or no wait...

flojindamesa said...

Couldn't agree more. Brunch always makes me think of the previous evening's leftovers and a vat of slowly congealing hollandaise sauce.