Who the L Put the Br in Lunch?
It's Saturday morning. You're hungry, perhaps a bit cranky. And what do you do?
You leave the comforts of home to stand outside for 45 minutes waiting for a table, risk an equally cranky waiter, choose between a tired egg dish and an exhausted carbohydrate dish and inhale it as others like you hungrily eye your table.
This is Brunch.
Loot asked Bloomberg's New York food critic, Ryan Sutton, to put the phenomenon in perspective. Perhaps we're missing something?
Nope. "Here's the thing about brunch," Sutton says. "You go to a restaurant at seven at night and it's an inspirational meal. At 10:30 a.m., though, most people don't have that attitude. They wake up in the morning with a hangover and walk into Balthazar. It's food as fuel."
The alternative is to find a place that actually serves lunch on a weekend. "Lunch, unlike brunch, is maybe not as inspirational as dinner, but you're still looking for a civilized experience with a nice, composed dish," Sutton says. "As opposed to a bunch of eggs that have been scrambled the way your father scrambles them, except this time you're charged $20 for the privilege."
We'll go with the lunch option. But where to go?
"When I get lunch on the weekends, I prefer places that have the same lunch as dinner," Sutton says. He lists Mission Chinese on the Lower East Side and Roberta's in Brooklyn as restaurants with decent lunch menus (though Roberta's also has weekend brunch options). To that list, Loot would add Kin Shop in Greenwich Village and Moustache in the West Village.
But if brunch is so miserable, why do restaurants perpetuate it?
"First of all, I think there are one or two restaurants that do it right," Sutton says, citing Locanda Verde and noting that his experience there, four years ago, was "relatively pleasant." In general, though, "restaurants don't mind it, because they can make a higher margin on eggs than, say, steak. ... But as a food critic, I never review brunch items. It's my way of taking a stand against that silly, silly meal."
If you just need some salt and grease on a Saturday morning, Loot suggests you open your kitchen cabinet. That dusty hunk of metal? That's a frying pan.
How fraught is the subject? As fraught as this actual email exchange on the eve of publication:
Colleague: I am 100% against the premise of this post and happy to weigh in as an opposing "expert." I consider brunch not a meal but a lifestyle.
Loot: You, sir, are on the wrong side of history.
Colleague: And trying to browbeat me into cooking my own breakfast on Sunday (or, frankly, ever) is a full-on declaration of war.
1. I am not eating before noon (1 p.m., actually) on Sunday, as I am usually in some state of discomfort from extravagance on Saturday night or am just too tired to even contemplate a meal.
2. I'm not eating a sandwich as my first meal of the day, nor do I want sushi or roast chicken or whatever hidmo (hideous monstrosity) you're proposing that I eat.
3. Breakfast food should be served 24 hours a day, everywhere, in my opinion.
4. Brunch is both a New York and a gay institution, and you shouldn't **** with either one of those groups, and CERTAINLY not with both.
5. Brunch food is delicious and nutritious (if it's not, you're not going to the right places) and gives one an excellent reason to drink alcohol without unsavory comparisons to out-of-control celebrities.
6. Ryan Sutton can only weigh in on what I'm eating if he's buying.
Loot: None of those reasons are compelling:
1. Sleeping in doesn't mean that dealing with crowds of annoying people is any more reasonable.
2. No one's telling you to eat anything you don't want.
3. It is.
4. I absolutely am more than happy to address both.
5. A pancake is not nutritious, nor is a piece of french toast.
6. I'm sure he will if you ask
James Tarmy reports on arts and culture for Bloomberg Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News.