Is there really any better meal than brunch? Think about it. Not only does it give you the chance to sleep in a bit, but it’s the one time of day where a boozy mimosa or Caesar is perfectly acceptable, mixing salty, fatty foods like sausage and bacon with sweet French toast or pancakes is the norm, and there’s a never-ending pot of coffee or tea ready for the taking.
The brunch crowd is taking over food tourism by storm and it’s no wonder: people are being more fun and creative with their offerings, taking brunch plates everywhere to new and delicious heights.
So what does Big Bucket Food List host John Catucci look for in a hot brunch spot? A place that takes the time to elevate their dishes by actually making certain staples, like bacon or bread, in-house.
“If I have the morning off and I’m going to go for brunch, I will seek out those places,” he says. “Anybody can put eggs on a plate with toast… but if they’re curing their own bacon and baking their own bread or donuts I will seek them out.”
Catucci certainly had the opportunity to do exactly that on Big Food Bucket List, when he highlighted delicious brunch spots across North America. One of his absolute favourites was right here in Canada, at Calgary’s Monki Breakfastclub & Bistro.
There, the chefs get creative with things like an array of eggs benedict plates, which are served with either classic or prosecco hollandaise (yup, prosecco!) and can be ordered to enjoy on a waffle instead of an English muffin.
“They put like a beet-root sauce in there so that the hollandaise was pink. It was so much fun,” Catucci says. “And then they use brisket instead of back bacon on their eggs benedict. That was a real fun sort of change.”
Another gem that Catucci tried from Monki’s was a seriously sweet rendition of French toast—the Hazelnut Chocolate French Toast, which comes stuffed with a banana and Frangelico cream mixture that we just want to eat with a spoon. As if that weren’t sinful enough, the entire concoction is then pan-fried in an egg-wash, slathered with a hazelnut chocolate sauce, and made to look like a perfectly decorated cake.
Monki Bistro’s Chocolate Hazelnut French Toast
It’s hard to imagine forking your way through that dish in just one seating, but the plate is also far from the most stacked Catucci saw on the series. Over in Earltown, NS he also sampled the Wild About Blueberry Pancakes at Sugar Moon Farm, which have been voted best in the country. Considering the buttermilk pancakes come piled with blueberries and a maple whipped cream made from in-house maple syrup, we can see why. Served with a side of smoked bacon, there’s really nothing else we need in our lives.
Sugar Moon’s Wild About Blueberries Pancakes
Then there are the brunch places that totally twist traditional brunch dishes, like chicken and waffles, in a whole new way. Like in Boston, where Saltie Girl makes good use of its proximity to the water with a Fried Lobster & Waffles dish that we’d dive into for days. Who wouldn’t, with that light but golden brown batter on delicate chunks of lobster and a perfectly turned waffle? Add in some of the restaurant’s signature spicy maple syrup and this is a dish you dream of for days after consuming it.
Of course, it’s impossible to talk about brunch without also bringing up one of the most creative food cities in the world—New Orleans. Sure, the destination may be known for some of the best fried chicken and creole-spiced anything around, but Catucci also sought out mouth-watering brunch dishes at Brennan’s, a spot that’s so popular it’s dubbed a “New Orleans tradition.” Breakfast there is so much so their jam that they even offer two-course breakfast dishes.
So what did Catucci flock to on the menu? A dish called Eggs Cardinal, which may be a cardinal sin to enjoy so much. If you’re a fan of eggs benedict, this thing is next-level as it uses a crispy shrimp boudin (a type of sausage) as the base. It’s made using a mixture that includes shrimp, peppers, creole spice, and onion before it’s smoked, covered in panko and fried. They then place a perfectly poached egg on top and douse the thing in hollandaise sauce, giving you the most perfect mix of salty, crispy, creamy, and saucy brunch possible.
It’s probably a good thing we can’t eat it every day, because we totally would. Wouldn’t you?
Ah, the #BrunchLife.
Watch Big Food Bucket List Fridays at 9 PM and 9:30 PM ET.