In May I asked my readers what were their favorite places in the Raleigh area for brunch. I received numerous recommendations and have tried to eat at most of the places suggested. So finally, after many months of research, I’ve come up with some of my favorites. I’ve divided them into two separate posts: Buffets (read about them at: http://kelleychisholm.com/2012/12/13/raleighs-best-brunches-part-1-buffets/) and Menu-Only Ordering. This part focuses on places that serve brunch only from their menus, and many offer it both on Saturdays and Sundays. It’s always good to check with the restaurant first for its hours and to see if you need to make reservations.
Here are my Top Five Raleigh brunch spots, plus a handful of honorable mentions (and one place that didn’t impress at all.)
Beasley’s Chicken + Honey (237 South Wilmington St, Raleigh, NC 27601) 11:30-4:00, Sat. and Sun.
Instead of trying the popular and, from what I hear, excellent chicken and waffles, I opted for the Eggs Beasley ($8.75). This dish consists of poached eggs on collards on cornbread with onion gravy. OMG – I was so happy with my choice – what an unusual but wonderful combination of flavors! I got there about 11:50 on a Saturday and sat at the bar, which had probably five to seven open seats. By the time I left there all of the seats in the place were taken, with at least 25 people waiting outside. I had a mimosa, but the bartender let me try a sip of the homemade Bloody Mary mix, which was awesome and what I’ll get next time. Ashley Christensen scores again with yet another popular downtown destination!
Nofo at the Pig (2014 Fairview Rd., Raleigh, NC 27608) 10:00-3:00, Sat. and Sun.
I started with great Bloody Mary with excellent garnishes that included celery, green beans, cherry tomatoes, green olives and limes in a pepper-rimmed glass.
I ordered the Eggs Florentine ($10.95), which was a bit different than what I usually am served. This wonderful dish had spinach patties that sat on sliced tomatoes, topped with perfectly cooked poached eggs and hollandaise sauce and came with a side of fresh fruit and biscuits. The food was excellent as usual (see my previous review of Nofo at: http://kelleychisholm.com/2012/02/06/close-to-home-nofo-the-pig/)
I went on a Saturday around 1:00 and had no trouble getting a table, but hear that it fills up on Sundays right after church, so plan ahead.
Busy Bee Café (225 South Wilmington St., Raleigh, NC 27601) 11:00-3:00, Sat, Sun. and Mon.
Busy Bee serves brunch along with its regular lunch menu, and the brunch changes weekly. I recommend the Cheesy Grit bowl if it’s on the menu – delicious! This consisted of yellow stone-ground grits mixed with pepperjack cheese, topped with sautéed bacon, bell peppers, onions, two poached eggs and hollandaise sauce ($12.00).
The eggs were cooked perfectly and my mimosa was excellent with fresh orange juice. There was a DJ playing funky music – it was kind of loud where we were sitting, but not so much in the back.
Irregardless Café (901 West Morgan St., Raleigh, NC 27603) 10:00-2:30 Sat and Sun. Reservations for large parties on Sat., no reservations on Sun.
Irregardless is my one of my overall favorite restaurants in Raleigh, for brunch or otherwise. Its brunch comes with assorted breakfast breads, fresh-squeezed orange juice and a choice of coffee, tea or milk. I got there at 11:45 on a Sunday and the dining room was packed, but luckily there was room at the bar where I received excellent and friendly service. There was jazz guitarist playing nice music and occasionally singing the blues – a great atmosphere for a wonderful brunch.
I ordered the Huevos Rancheros — two sunny side eggs served on corn tortillas with black beans, cheddar cheese, pico de gallo and guacamole ($14.00). This was out of this world and quite popular, judging from all of the orders I saw coming out of the kitchen. But that should come as no surprise to those of you familiar with Chef Gordon’s food, which is fresh and always delicious.
Coquette Brasserie (4351 Lassiter at North Hills Ave., Raleigh, NC 27609) 10:00-3:00, Sunday only.
As I mentioned in my review of Coquette (http://kelleychisholm.com/2011/04/10/restaurant-review-coquette-brasserie-raleigh-n-c-%e2%80%93-ooh-la-la/) a while back, it offers bottomless mimosas ($10.00) with Sunday brunch. I recommend the spinach and chèvre quiche ($8.00). It is excellent – light and creamy and perfectly seasoned. It came with a basket of assorted breads and soft butter, and a Mesclun greens salad with shallots and champagne vinaigrette dressing.
I love the atmosphere of Coquette and have always had good service there. We went the other day around 1:00 p.m. and were told there would be an hour wait – it’s quite popular so plan accordingly!
I also really like Cameron Bar and Grill, Relish Café and Bar and North Ridge Pub, all of which offer brunch in addition to their regular menus on Saturdays and Sundays. Tribeca Tavern has a nice Sunday-only brunch. All have good atmospheres, food and service.
No Big Wow Factor
One place that received quite a few recommendations but that I was not crazy about was Brigs. Maybe that’s because brunch just isn’t that special since it serves breakfast all week, but definitely because I cannot enjoy a mimosa or Bloody Mary – no alcohol permits. The atmosphere is nothing to brag about and the sound system is tinny, almost bordering on annoying. The food was OK, although one of my eggs was completely overcooked (as shown) in the Eggs Florentine I ordered. Luckily the other one was how it should be – nice and runny.
The hash browns were good and our server was pleasant (although she did mess up a few things on our order.) It’s fine for a weekday visit, but not my idea of a great weekend brunch.
I’ve had a lot of fun researching this topic, so don’t be surprised to see another part to this series next year. A few places I plan on trying soon include Babylon and Jibarra – any other suggestions?
Eat, drink and be merry!
Follow Kel’s Café on Twitter at http://twitter.com/kelscafe