Sunday brunch must have originated from hard-partying Saturday nights. You know, the kind after which no one can get up quite early enough for breakfast, but once up, desperately requires immediate transfusions of caffeine, greasy foods and of course the hair of that damn dog that bit you the night before. How else to stave off the horrors of the hangover? Said transfusions must start as soon after rising as possible, whether you roll out of bed too late for breakfast or too early for lunch or not quite at dinner time.
My theory is borne out by The Brunch Historian who puts the first published mention of brunch coming from a Mr. Guy Beringer whose article titled “Brunch: A Plea,” appeared in a 1895 issue of the British magazine Hunter’s Weekly and is quoted by the Historian:
“Instead of England’s early Sunday dinner, a post-church ordeal of heavy meats and savory pies, why not a new meal, served around noon, that starts with tea or coffee . . . By eliminating the need to get up early on Sunday, brunch would make life brighter for Saturday night carousers.”
Granted, this could be taken care of without the need for a shower and other nods to presentability, with a slice of cold pizza and a beer from the fridge. But brunch, like many of us, has evolved over the years. It gives you much reward for a bit of effort and personal cleanup. And these days a grown-up like myself has less need of a hangover cure and more need of a delicious meal that I don’t have to prepare myself or clean up after on my precious weekend time. Cold pizza just doesn’t cut it any more.
Today’s brunch can be a crowded table of terrific friends getting boozy. It can be a family gathering where there is no kid’s menu necessary, because any menu full of pancakes and waffles and French toast is clearly designed for children of all ages. It is a chance to go to a fancy restaurant with children, because brunch service is less formal and often less expensive. It can be a post-wedding celebration or a baby shower. And it can be for no reason at all except that it is there and it’s breakfast if you want that or lunch if you want that and no one is really an a hurry and it is good.
The following list is in no way meant to be definitive or exhaustive. It is meant to represent a wide array of what is new or notable or intriguing in brunch on Long Island and to give you a few ideas to spark up your weekend. A couple of places offer bottomless brunch, but that was not required. What we were looking for more was the quality and creativity of the cocktails, not the quantity (Oh my, I have grown up). Several don’t even offer a separate brunch, but their breakfast and lunch menus overlap enough to let you pick and choose. If you have other brunch favorites around the island, let us know!
Jazz Brunch at Big Daddy’s
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Inspired by the jazz brunches of New Orleans, Big Daddy’s—serving up Cajun dishes in Massapequa since 1992 (and now, Bay Shore) in a jubilant honky-tonk roadhouse atmosphere—offers specialties like the Andouille Hash (have ‘em with eggs your way) and Omelette Jambalaya. There are several bonuses here. One is the live music; two- or three-piece bands play jazz or blues as you dine. The other bonus is the complimentary drink with your entrée. Manager Tommy Kurtz recommends the Bloody Mary. “Not only is the mix homemade and great, but the garnish is a marinated string bean we make in-house. People go crazy for that.”
Sundays from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
1 Park Lane, Massapequa
It’s hard to beat Thyme for perfect brunch location. Overlooking a pond in Roslyn, the atmosphere is polished and elegant (and there is valet parking). The food is elegant too. Grilled hanger steak and eggs, quiche and challah French toast are some of the favorites that devotees (and Thyme has built a very devoted clientele over 13 years) make sure stay on the menu. But Thyme dials up the classics too. The signature dish is a Thyme Benedict served on a potato cake that is like a latke on steroids, crunchy on the outside and fluffy tender on the inside, just perfect for that Hollandaise finish. An incredible value at $22 prix fixe including a complimentary drink, we recommend you add on a specialty blood orange margarita; the strong citrus notes and sweetness are just what a dense brunch meal needs for balance. And fear not, Thyme might be more formal for dinner, but families with kids will feel comfortable at brunch.
Saturdays and Sundays from 11:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
8 Tower Place, Roslyn
As Local as Local Brunch Gets
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You would be hard-pressed to find a brunch more dedicated to local produce (including wines and beers) and hand-crafted dishes than Rustic Root in Woodbury. But make no mistake, all this locavore virtue is not holier-than-thou, stiff or sanctimonious; from the cold-pressed mimosa (made with Christy Brinkley’s Bellissima prosecco) and perfect Bloody Mary; to the creamy devilled eggs (MarGene Farms, Mattituck); homemade cornbread and biscuits; the insanely piled take on a classic Long Island egg sandwich; short rib and grits topped with a fried egg (just the right kind of runny), maple syrup from the Catskills; and dairy from Ronnybrook Farm (Ancramdale, NY), Rustic Root (with Chopped champion Tom Gloster running the back of the house) is the kind of decadence you can feel good about. The atmosphere is warm and casual and the presentation is simply spectacular.
Novitá means “something new” and although this Garden City restaurant has been around since 2006, the brunch menu features innovative (and very Italian) twists on brunch classics like eggs Benedict served with prosciutto instead of bacon, a Tuscan scramble with Italian sausage, paninis, thin crust Napolitan pizzas and pastas. There are salads redolent with truffle and arancini, basil and gorgonzola, depending on the season. Here too we get truly boozy with a bottomless brunch! For $29.95 you get appetizer, entrée and unlimited mimosas, screwdrivers and Bloody Marys. There are also specialty cocktails a la carte. The atmosphere is casual chic, with leather booths and a modernist design.
Saturdays and Sundays from 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
860 Franklin Avenue, Garden City
A well-known Italian-Iberian tapas and wine bar in Massapequa with warm slabs of wooden tables and a bar anchoring the décor, Salumi by day is amazing as well and more family-friendly. Since becoming a parent I am more likely to be an early riser on a Sunday morning. So while this is about brunch, which at Salumi starts at 11 a.m., we usually arrive earlier for breakfast and linger until I can also get my brunch and dinner only morcilla (their crave-worthy blood sausage which I am a bit obsessed with). My son is a fiend for the French toast with banana and salted caramel. This is where we come when we have houseguests and want to show off our local places and don’t feel like cooking breakfast for a horde. So among all of us I think we’ve had every egg dish on the menu. They are all great, but most representative are the Piquillo Sunrise: creamy polenta cakes with sunny side up eggs and piquillo pepper salsa and the eggs Bloomfield: two poached eggs on crispy prosciutto toast. I especially love the creamy crunchy savory croque madame from the breakfast menu. The loaded toasts are also phenomenal. Try the smoked anchovies or the sheep’s cheese variations. To accompany your meal, try a tinto de verano (Spanish red wine with bubbly moscato) or Bloody Marvelous (bourbon, chardonnay and bloody mix with olives).
Saturdays and Sundays from 11:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
5600 Merrick Road, Massapequa
Feel the Love
Love Lane Kitchen is one of my family’s favorite places to eat any meal and as it happens, owner Carolyn Iannone, has been one of my favorite people since we worked side by side as Paumanok tasting room associates many summers ago. So when it comes to brunch, you might call me biased, but after you’ve been you’ll call me a genius. Love Lane is always flooded with light, but it brings the sunshine to brunch with ever-changing sparkling cocktails like the Harvest Mimosa (NY apple cider and prosecco with a cinnamon sugar rim), the Merry Berry (aperol, cranberry, sparkling and fresh lemon juice) or the French 75 (gin, fresh lime, simple syrup and prosecco). Here’s good news for those on a different schedule: you can get the Love Lane breakfast 7 a.m. during the week and 8 a.m. weekends (well you might have to wait for that cocktail on Sundays) until 2 p.m. and the lunch menu until 4 p.m. So maybe it’s not technically brunch, but the flexibility makes it easy to get festive whenever you need to. Eggs Benedict, stuffed French toast (omg) and seasonal pancakes are top choices.
Saturdays and Sundays from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
240 Love Lane, Mattituck
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Salt & Barrel is the culmination of four generations of evolution. Morgan and Ryan Flynn’s great-grandfather opened Flynn’s Fire Island in 1937 and is still owned by their dad, James. It was James who decided it was the right time to launch a project with his kids, so Morgan left finance (with a sideline in craft bourbon) and Ryan left fashion (with a sideline in contracting) and they gathered a few other old buddies to open this classic oyster bar seafood establishment in the increasingly hip town of Bay Shore. For brunch it’s got a fun menu that really bridges lunch and breakfast. It boasts a whole lot of seafood: the lobster roll is especially popular (butter-poached, yum!) as is the shrimp and grits with Andouille sausage. There are also non-seafood selections like the sunny avocado toast and the farmer’s veggie burger with a refreshing homemade Greek yogurt raita. The oyster menu goes east to west and includes local favorites like Lucky 13. For your brunch beverage, try the Rose 75, a sparkler with homemade lychee rose syrup, or just ask what’s on; the drinks are inventive and change seasonally.
Saturdays from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Sundays from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
61 West Main Street, Bay Shore
One of my favorite restaurants in one of my favorite towns on Long Island, American Beech in Greenport is a top choice for any meal, but brunch is really laid-back and cool. The natural light is wonderful and the airy décor feels like the deck of an old-school luxury sailing vessel. Start off with the preferred brunch cocktail: Farm Fresh, which combines vodka and apricot liqueur. Floor manager Kayleigh Macchirole says first timers should try the buttermilk fried chicken that has become a Greenport go-to, accompanied with crispy Brussels sprouts, lemon aioli and bacon or a fresh seasonal omelette or, when available, the amazing spaghetti squash latkes. My son can’t be weaned off the Beech Burger (Gruyere, garlic aioli, roast mushrooms and caramelized onions on a pretzel bun) and he won’t let me write this without mentioning it since it is available for brunch. If you want something similar but lighter, the egg sandwich is just the thing.
300 Main Street, Greenport
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Relish in Kings Park has the clean lines of a modern lunch spot, but the familiar welcoming feel of the neighborhood lunch counter coffee shop. It doesn’t have a brunch per se, but with breakfast served until 4 p.m. and brunch beverages like mimosas and local microbrews available, you can make your own brunch. They offer fluffy omelettes with names like Nissequogue (including Satur Farms kale) and Brooklyn (sweet fennel sausage, fire-roasted peppers and caramelized onion), homemade chicken chorizo and old and new school egg sandwiches. The ricotta pancakes and cinnamon French toast are justifiably famous. A cheerful multigenerational crowd makes the most of family time while very friendly staff keep the food coming.
Saturdays from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Sundays 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
22 Pulaski Road
ADM (Ay Dios Mío) = OMG: Mesita RVC
New to the brunch scene is Mesita in hopping and happening Rockville Centre (RVC to the hipper among us). If you hang out with enough Latin Americans you’ll find that one breakfast we love is leftover steak, rice and beans with a fried egg on top. Mesita keeps that big food spirit, while ratcheting up the style and substance. Their Mexican brunch includes novelties like cornmeal pancakes and churro waffles (yes, churro waffles), and takebacks like an avocado toast that includes guacamole, roasted corn and black beans. There’s potato chorizo hash, a variety of Mexican cheeses, corn tortillas and of course, chili peppers throughout. They do have unlimited mimosas ($15), but you might want to keep with the Mexican theme with their Mesita Bloody Mary: green tomatillo, pineapple, jalapeño and tequila or beer; or the Day & Night: a frozen margarita with a swirl of sangria.
Saturdays and Sundays from 11:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
212B Merrick Road, Rockville Centre
First & South
You need to get to First & South for brunch soon as they will be closing for renovations in March and not opening again ‘til Easter Sunday brunch on April 1. A platform for young chefs since they opened in 2012, First & South has a great location in the heart of Greenport, a wonderful laid-back neighborhood maritime atmosphere and a killer brunch. Go chicken and waffles with tangerine honey, go crab cakes Benedict, go skirt steak and eggs, just go, quick. This renovated and repurposed old Victorian supports local artists (check out Kara Hoblin’s seasonal chalkboards: she also does boards for Lululemon and Google). The omelettes change weekly depending on what is available from local North Fork farms like Sep’s and Sang Lee. Their cocktails are ever-changing, but especially popular is the Huckleberry Lemonade (44 North Huckleberry vodka, simple syrup and lemon) and the homemade Bloody Mary.
Sundays from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
100 South Street, Greenport