College teaches us that brunch is the perfect sweatpants, overeating, two meals in one, all you can eat type of dining experience. You wake up after a night of too many drinks, and you throw on random clothes, head to the dining hall, and eat a bagel, and a turkey sandwich, and some cookies, and talk about the events of the night before.
But, brunch in real life is not like brunch in college (well, sometimes it is, let’s be honest). Usually, you have to wear more than pajama pants. You have to pick one entrée, not an all you can eat buffet. And you are not surrounded by those that you may have offended the night before, just surrounded by strangers.
Now here is the deal, friends. Brunch does not have to be a roll out of bed event. Brunch can be a well planned, fancy, classy affair, with delicate portions and reservations even! I have a few friends who I get together with once every two months or so. And one person sends an e-mail trying to find a date that we are all free. It always starts with the suggestion of a Friday night. Inevitably, someone has a birthday party. So we try for Saturday. But one of my friends volunteers, and I have to do work. Saturday night they are free, and I am babysitting. And then we are left with Sunday brunch, and we are usually free!
The best part about fancy brunch with friends is that you feel like you can spend a little more money than you would usually do on a weekly brunch. Why? Well, chances are if you went out with those friends on a Friday night, you would get dinner and drinks, followed by more drinks, and easily, easily, would drop at least $50, if not a TON more. A brunch entrée and a few cocktails may not be that expensive, so you can run up your bill a bit more.
The key to planning your fancy brunch is to start with www.opentable.com. This allows you to make a reservation and have your fancy plans locked up. Waiting around for your fancy brunch is not always the way to go.
Then, define what a fancy restaurant is to you. Would you consider brunch fancy if you could order brunch appetizers? Or brunch desserts? Bread basket? Bellinis? For me, fancy brunch is a place where I linger, and the portions are a little smaller, and they have homemade doughnuts. I don’t know why about the doughnuts, but I just think homemade doughnuts can be so fancy at a fancy restaurant.
Next, find a restaurant that fits the bill. Think of some of the nicer places you have wanted to try for dinner, but instead, go for brunch! You are guaranteed to save a little money by going to brunch, and not dinner.
Need some help getting started? That is why I am here! More and more I am getting requests for fancier type brunch places. I think I am getting these requests because the brunch discourse in NYC can be heavily focused on the all you can drink places. Or the prix-fixe deals. But people e-mail me because they are coming to NY for the weekend, and each meal needs to be special, and great, and they do not want to waste a NYC meal by wandering into a random restaurant for brunch, only to find that they are really in a pub that does not specialize in brunch at all.
Here are a few examples, but please contact me for more!
Craftbar: I love Tom Colicchio’s restaurant, and Craftbar delivers. Located in Gramercy Park, this restaurant has reasonably priced entrees, in the mid-teens, fancy doughnuts, and cute portions. The service is great and the restaurant itself is beautiful. They also offer their full lunch menu, so you can opt for an even more expensive lunch entrée if you so desire.
Artisanal: Located in Murray Hill, you can enjoy a fancy restaurant with an extensive menu. The menu ranges from $14 egg dishes, to $19.50 entrees, to $24.07 prix fixe brunch, to fondue! So, here you can run up the tab, or keep it simple. And it has great plates for sharing, so invite your friends or family, and you can enjoy a fancy meal with shared conversation and cheese!
Trust me … there are so many more. So when your family comes to town, or you are celebrating an anniversary, or getting together with friends, you can class up your brunch experience, and make it more like a day out on the town, and not like a drag yourself to the nearest place that will feed you. Brunch is two meals in one, so treat yourself every now and then, and you won’t be disappointed.
NYCMenuGirl is a brunch aficionado and all-around foodie. When not writing for I Heart Brunch you can find her musing about dining in NYC at http://nycmenugirl.blogspot.com.