The ever-so-cheesy omelets. The syrup-drowned waffles. The savory and spicy Bloody Marys. Think you know brunch inside and out? Think again. We’ve got twists on five of your favorite early-morning (or mid-afternoon) classics that’ll make you question everything you know about breakfast food.
1. Eggs Benedict
We know what you’re thinking: How do you improve on a dish that is literally covered in a thick, gooey, butter-based sauce? Simple. You take that delicious dressing (and its various accouterments) and you put it on a crab cake.
At Boulevard Bistro in New York, they’re doing just that with their crab cake benedict, featuring mixed greens and poached eggs atop two jumbo lump crab cakes and coated with creole-style hollandaise.
Not a big fan of the surf and turf? Try the brisket benedict at Stax Café in Chicago, instead. This ode to America’s ruminants features pulled braised beef brisket paired with the classic poached egg and English muffin, and topped with traditional hollandaise. It’s all meat — and entirely mouthwatering.
2. Chicken and Waffles
Since this innovation in sweet and savory combinations hit the market, it has become a favorite among not just the brunch set, but nearly everyone who has ever enjoyed a tasty morsel coated in syrup. This mash-up has become so popular, in fact, it even had a Lay’s potato chip flavor dedicated to it.
Despite this ubiquity, however, we think you should step out of the poultry category and try a new waffle-plus-protein combo: the waffle dog.
Served up by Over Easy in Phoenix, this dish is as much fairground treat as breakfast food. Consisting of three breakfast sausages on sticks dipped in waffle batter and fried to perfection, the waffle dog will make you question not just your allegiance to chicken and waffles, but your love of corn dogs, as well.
3. Frittata (and Quiche Lorraine)
If we ever needed proof that Americans are willing to expand their culinary horizons when it comes to delicious dishes, we need look no further than the frittata and the quiche. Hailing from Italy and France, respectively, each represents a different, yet equally tasty, method of consuming the humble egg.
So how do you improve on these impressive imports? If you’re the folks at TAP in Atlanta, you just combine them.
TAP’s frittata lorraine simply fuses some of the best parts of each dish — including, in this case, crisp bacon, caramelized onions, gruyere, and arugula — to create a sophisticated take on eggs that might just eclipse its European inspirations.
4. French Toast
Who knew soaking bread in an egg and milk mixture then lightly frying it would make a stale or heavy slice into a delectable treat? If you said the French, you’re only partly right: although the French do have pain perdu, or lost bread, the cooking method for modern French toast actually dates back to 4th century Rome.
Given its 1,700 year history, you’d think we would have discovered all the variations possible. Luckily, the folks at Knife and Tine in Chicago have proven us wrong with their Creamsicle French toast.
Combining two childhood favorites into one very sophisticated dish, the Creamsicle French toast includes orange curd and vanilla whipped cream atop slices of brioche. Prefer baked goodies to frozen treats? Knife and Tine also has cinnamon roll pancakes, complete with cream cheese frosting, that are sure to satisfy any sweet tooth.
5. Bloody Mary
No list of signature brunch items would be complete without the Bloody Mary. Known as a hangover cure in a glass, this savory concoction has about as many recipes as restaurants that serve it. However, there’s only one restaurant that has taken the Bloody Mary from cocktail to all-out appetizer.
Johnny’s Famous BLT Mary, only found at Hash House a Go Go in Orlando, Fla., may seem like a typical Bloody Mary at first blush — albeit one served with a garnish of Romaine lettuce, crisp bacon, and a slice of a tomato. But this “drinkable appetizer” also offers guests a piece of white toast and a mayonnaise packet, proving that at Hash House a Go Go, the Bloody Mary isn’t just a medicinal wonder and a tasty libation, it’s also one of the best meals you can suck through a straw.
A full stomach is the ultimate reward, but a little something extra on the side never hurts. Check out our dining loyalty programs, and see what other rewards you could be getting with each meal.