My trip to Philly this past weekend had me reminiscing about my favorite brunch spots. Now, I’m all about the Sunday Funday so, as much as I’m not a certifiable expert when it comes to cuisine, I do have years of experience drinking champagne on weekend mornings — oh, and the requisite dining that comes with it.
When I’m home in Newport Beach, I love Sabatino’s. It’s a casual Italian restaurant over by the dry dock that serves the best cheese-stuffed sausage. Brunch is plated (which I prefer) but there is a small buffet of fresh fruit, sausage gravy and cinnamon rolls. Before it was popular, we used to lounge around for hours, snacking and drinking, all for about $20 per person. Now it costs a few dollars more, the champagne doesn’t flow as freely and I think they even instituted an “end time” (sorry, but I’m pretty sure we had something to do with that decision). But, because it is out of the way, you still can avoid the tourists and be guaranteed a great meal for the price. The service is lazy (aka inattentive) but at least you don’t feel rushed! And, where else can you go if you want pepperoni pizza for breakfast?
Now that I’ve expanded my culinary adventures to the East Coast for awhile, I’m having more difficulty — brunch isn’t celebrated with near enough fervor here. It’s like everyone is worried about work on Monday morning. ??? There have been a few misses in my quest for the perfect brunch (Mango Mike’s — for the masses, not for me) but I’ve already found two go-to places when I am in need of “a fix.” Lauriol Plaza, between Adams Morgan and Dupont Circle, doesn’t serve the traditional brunch menu but they do offer great Mexican food, it’s open at 11:30am and the pitchers of margaritas remind me of home. For real brunch, Liberty Tavern. The value/price ratio falls in favor of the customer and the food here is consistently great. Not to mention, they serve pizza too (are you noticing a theme here?) Oh, and it’s the best pizza in town. Only downside: Bill Clinton had a publicized lunch there the other day so it is no longer a local find: everyone knows about it now.
An honorable mention for the Kennedy Center: it’s overpriced and I wasn’t overly impressed but some people might like the layout (food stations are located within the kitchen) and the view is great for out-of-towners. Still, I don’t understand brunch without never-ending champagne…I never will…but if you’re a sober tourist, you might want to check it out.
This all leads to the real purpose of this post: the Best Brunch evah! While I was suffering through Sunday morning asparagus panna cotta and scallop sausage at Lacroix at the Rittenhouse, I tried to mentally transport myself to brunch at Al Qasr in Dubai. Where are all of those technological revolutions the Jetsons promised??? There I was, sitting at what was supposed to be the best brunch in Philadelphia, and all I could think about was how much everyone on staff needed to visit Al Qasr on a hoppin’ Friday morning (their Sunday Funday) and learn how brunch *should* be.
I know…it’s a little out of the way. But, if you do find yourself in the UAE, you must make a reservation. When I made my first plate, I didn’t understand what the big deal was about. Pasta, sushi, some meat dishes, yeah, okay. Then I remembered reading about their mojitos so I ordered one from my server. Oh…he can’t bring me a mojito…I have to go the mojito station. Huh? He said, “Do you want me to show you?” Uh, yeah! That’s when the oceans parted and the mountains rose up…because he took me to room after room of every type of food that could satisfy any craving…american classics, seafood, spanish tapas, indian food, mexican fajitas, a raw bar, a burger bar (with kobe and wagyu beef), etc. Oh, and in addition to the mojito station, there was a gin station, a vodka station, a cognac station, etc. Talk about neverending! At that point, I was just upset that I had even bothered with pasta! And, it was good pasta.
Memo to all East Coast restaurateurs: There *is* a market for brunch…a real brunch…I’m sure of it. Now, go to Al Qasr, educate yourself, and bring the gold home. Please. I implore you.