There a few activities that are at the top of my life list: I like getting pedicures, I like shoe shopping, and I like to brunch. (Should my hobbies be more interesting? Ahhh, well.)
Brunching is one of the things I look forward to the most during the weekends. It’s the perfect opportunity to slow down for a moment, gab with friends, and enjoy some major grub. Breakfast food is my absolute favorite, and we all know by now that I like to drink, so any occasion to enjoy eggs and wine in the morning is okay by me.
Just like any sophisticated endeavor, there are certain rules that come with brunching. These aren’t hard and fast rules, but as a person who has enjoyed and also worked many a brunch, I’d like to believe I have a bit of insight. Here is the Ciao Vella list of brunching do’s and don’ts.
Don’t: Get Swindled by Your Mimosa
A mimosa seems like a brunch staple, and it is -- but in my opinion, a mimosa is a total rip off. To me, a good mimosa consists of 80% champagne and 20% fruit juice, but at most places you go for brunch, those ratios are flipped. You wouldn’t normally spend $8 on a glass of OJ, right? My suggestion: order a glass (or bottle, because let’s be serious) of your favorite sparkling, and ask for a glass of OJ or grapefruit on the side. In the end, you may pay a little bit more, but at least you get the drink you want, and not the drink you think you want.
Do: Order All the Drinks
This “do” is two-fold. Yes, take this opportunity to get a little loose, overindulge, have more than a few drinks. But what I really mean by this is: have as many drink options as you’d like. When I brunch, I order a glass of champs, a side of OJ, a coffee, and a club soda with lime. There is never any shortage of beverage options on my table because brunch is about decadence and indulgence, but also, each drink serves its purpose: coffee because it’s technically still breakfast time, champagne, because brunch; OJ because see above, and finally club soda, because if you’re drinking, you have to stay hydrated. (Look mom, I’m responsible once in a while!)
Don’t: Settle for Just One Plate
This past summer my husband Tim and I took a weekend trip to Nashville to celebrate our wedding anniversary. One of my (what I would like to think this is) cute travel quirks is that I research restaurants ahead of time and almost always pick out exactly what I’m going to eat. As Tim says, “you’re always planning your next meal.”
We made reservations at this gorgeous restaurant called Le Sel for brunch, but there were so many good menu options that I just couldn’t choose. When we sat down at the table, Tim agreed to order a little bit of everything, and it was amazing. We had a crepe, a peach salad, mussels and fries, crab cakes, and eggs benedict...yep, all the food. This is a food philosophy I encourage for all brunches. Want a salad? Get it. Eggs? Do it, girl. Sausage on the side. Yes! And you want a pancake? Get one for the table. Split a plate with a friend, take some of it home, I don’t care what you do -- but just get it all.
Do: Treat the Staff Well
This should go without saying -- your wait staff and the kind people preparing your food work incredibly hard for sometimes thankless pay and long, grueling hours. I hope you always tip well, but do so especially at brunch. First of all, serving brunch sucks. The lovely people serving your eggs probably worked late the night before, then had to roll out of bed with sore backs and feet to bust their ass way too early in the morning for your enjoyment. Brunch is also a stressful shift for many of your restaurant biz friends, with long ticket times, snotty customers, and temperamental ingredients. An extra two or three bucks towards a tip isn’t going to make that much of a difference in your life, but it will make one stressful shift all the better for the folks serving you. Also, you might be qualified for sainthood if you buy a round for the kitchen staff -- they need love too.
Don’t: Feel obligated to shower beforehand
It’s the weekend, okay? Spray some dry shampoo, drag a comb through that mop, and throw on a hat if you have to. It just feels so unnecessary to primp pre-brunch, and while I am typically a proponent of the primp, brunch is supposed to be a relaxed vibe. One of the highlights of my Sundays is rolling out of bed and breaking bread with my buddies. You have to put on office-appropriate clothes every other day, so let brunch be your opportunity to keep it casual. Plus, sneakers, leggings and last night’s mascara can still look tres chic!
Do: Clear Your Schedule
The plan is to have no plan. You’ve got lots of chatting to do with your friends, lots of drinks to consume, lots of plates to clear -- so make sure your schedule is also clear. Having to run off to a family function post-brunch can be a total buzz kill. Brunch is a little glamorous, a little bouji, and you should leave stuffed. One of the best parts about brunch is the epic food coma you slip into when you finally get home.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tess is a restaurant professional, home-baker and downtown Dayton dweller. When she's not mixing drinks for restaurant patrons, she's drinking champagne, buying shoes, or writing her blog, Ciao Vella. You can read about her home recipes, party planning tips, and more at www.CiaoVellaBlog.com.
This article was originally published on Ciao Vella, Tess Vella-Collette’s food and lifestyle blog.