Dragging yourself out of bed on a Monday is torture. On a Sunday, it’s for an activity you’ve quite possibly planned your entire week around: brunch. For some of us, the fascination with that ambidextrous little meal still escapes. (Frankly, I’ll take the extra Zs.) But if you’re looking for a few new options to gather with your nearest and dearest to trade weekend war stories, here are some cute, clever, and occasionally kitschy options worth exploring.
(Langham Hotel; 250 Franklin Street; Boston; 617-451-1900; boston.langhamhotels.com)
If Willy Wonka had his way, every brunch would look like this: an all-you-can-eat “Chocolate Bar.” Yes, on Saturdays and Sundays Café Fleuri inside the Langham Hotel transforms into a chocolate lover’s paradise: think chocolate croissant bread pudding, truffles, whoopies pies – and some other sweets too, like cotton candy. They’re gloriously arranged like some sexy display of glorious display of cacao porn. If you need to sink your sweet tooth into something savory too, Sunday also offers a full brunch menu with a host of sophisticated plates.
(1236 Dorchester Avenue; Dorchester; 617-265-4490; dbarboston.com)
Dbar tends to be a favorite with the local gay scene, and chef Chris Coombs is regarded as something of a wunderkind in the kitchen. (This month the dining gurus at Zagat named him to Boston’s “30 Under 30,” a list of the city’s best young culinary pros.) And plopped on this brunch menu has got to be one of the cheekiest, and yet most decadent, offerings around: the Drunk & Naked Lobster Omelet. The crustacean is “drunk” on champagne-butter glaze, served with sweet corn and Gruyere cheese. (If only we were all so fabulous while snookered.) There are plenty of other upscale offerings, like a duck confit omelet, and half-a-dozen takes on the Bloody Mary: like the Black & Blue, with blue cheese and black pepper.
Ducali Pizzeria & Bar
(289 Causeway Street; Boston; 617-742-4144; ducalipizza.com)
Pizza for brunch? You probably haven’t had it since college. (And back then, it wasn’t known as “brunch,” but as “a desperate attempt to soak up this hangover.”) But this North End spot offers a “Calico Brunch,” where you can watch the game of the day on the big screen while diving into a menu that highlights creative breakfast pizzas: like the Pizza Ducale, topped with potato, pancetta, mozzarella and egg. These gourmet pies are a far cry from the keg party leftovers of yesteryear. Though if you find yourself pining for a buzz, help yourself to the Birra Del Borgo Re Ale on tap. Ducali is the only restaurant in Boston to serve Birra Del Borgo, a leader in the Italian craft beer movement. My, my – aren’t you a cultured drunk!
Foundry on Elm
(255 Elm Street; Somerville; 617-628-9999; foundryonelm.com)
Brunching in Somerville isn’t quite the same as spreading out a tablecloth in the hills of Provence, but a subway ride is a lot cheaper than a flight to France. And Foundry’s new “French Country Brunch Buffet,” which launched in November, isn’t a bad substitute for the real thing. For $15, you can pile your plate high (and as many times as you like) with hot dishes like crepes, French toast and Pain Perdu pudding, plus sweets and pastries. Or order off the standard, a la carte brunch menu, which includes several other Francophile favorites: beignets served with lemon curd or chocolate dipping sauce; Vol-au-Vent with bacon, spinach, egg and mornay sauce; and a breakfast sandwich served on a crispy croissant.
Island Creek Oyster Bar
(500 Commonwealth Avenue; Boston; 617-532-5300; islandcreekoysterbar.com)
Unless you’re the Gorton’s Fisherman, seafood in the morning might sound like a turn-off. (Lox on a bagel is as far as you’ll normally go.) But ah, feast your eyes upon the Lobster Omelet or Crab Cake Benedict at this sleek Kenmore Square favorite. Or if you’d rather head straight for something truly substantial, order up the ICOB Oyster Burger & Red Beer special. For $25, the restaurant tops their Angus burger with cheddar, house-cured thick cut maple bacon and fried oysters. It’s paired with a Red Beer, which is the ICOB house Pilsner combined with house-made Sangrita: a spicy tomato juice-based drink includes everything from horseradish to sriracha to agave nectar. We’re swallowing it hook, line, and sinker.
The Painted Burro
(219 Elm Street; Somerville; 617-776-0005; thepaintedburro.com)
Bored of Eggs Benedict? This beloved Mexican spot brings refined south of the border fare to the other side of the Charles River. Its Sunday “Burro Brunch” features plenty of tasty egg dishes, trussed up with everything from refried beans to chipotle mayo, smoked chile to fried plantain. But the real rave is the Yucatan Meatloaf, where fried eggs are just the co-star to a spicy slab of ground sirloin stuffed with chorizo, ham, chicharron, green olives and toasted almonds. Wash it down with margaritas or sangria.
(15 Arlington Street; Boston; 617-536-5700; tajhotels.com)
Hope you know somebody who knows somebody that knows somebody. (Then again, everyone at the Taj does.) Because there are only a few weeks left to reserve space for the seasonal “Rooftop Champagne Brunch,” and you’ll want to make a reservation for a luxury-livin’ Sunday like this. Weekly from April through November, the Taj lays a sophisticated buffet spread of chilled seafood, artisan cheeses, sushi, a carving station, amazing pastries – and even an Indian presentation. All this plus champagne and a view overlooking Boston’s Public Garden and surrounding area from the 17th floor roof. (And oh, what a view it is.) Brunch is $69, and there are only four seatings each Sunday, at 10:30 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. Pull strings if you have to - you don’t want to have to wait until spring.
Towne Stove & Spirits
(900 Boylston Street; Boston; 617-247-0400; towneboston.com)
The real attraction at Towne is chef Lydia Shire, one of the city’s most acclaimed – and deemed one of the “Top 10 Badass Woman Chefs in America.” You can’t miss her, just look for the tower of flame-red hair. But forgive us for saying she may be slightly upstaged by another crimson beauty: the 22-ounce Towne Bloody Mary, a gargantuan take on our favorite brunch cocktail that is garnished, rather ironically, with a shrimp. (Now that’s a badass brunch.) When you’re done being distracted, and assuming you can still see straight, return your attention to Shire’s scrumptious edibles like the lemon chiffon pancakes with whipped maple butter.