Three Spots to Indulge for Brunch: Brennan’s, Tiny Boxwoods and The Breakfast Klub
Who doesn’t love brunch? I’m mean, really. You would be hard-pressed to find a Houstonian who takes a pass on this perfect pairing of sweet and savory, light and robust. For this very reason, just about every great restaurant in town serves up a scrumptious weekend brunch. You could spend an entire year (or more!) tasting a new brunch each week. (Oooh, what a fabulous idea…who’s with me?) Here are three of our favorite places to brunch—also mentioned as must-visit eateries in Tourist in Your Town in the June/July issue of Bayou City Magazine.
Brennan’s of Houston
If you haven’t had the pleasure of brunching at Brennan’s, situated on a charming corner in Midtown, you are truly missing out on a legendary Bayou City experience (and simply must make reservations immediately, dahling). The menu combines Brennan’s signature Texas Creole flavor with classic brunch favorites that keep customers coming back for more. Feeling fancy? Brunch in elegance in the dining room. Or if you’re lucky, you may be able to snag a table on the courtyard—one of the best in town, boasting plenty of shade and fans that offer a cool mist on the more sultry days.
First-timers can order with confidence from the three-course set menu (as do many of the regulars): Start off with the Turtle Soup (some 25 ingredients make it soooo savory, says manager Rommel Gonzalez), then choose the best of both worlds with the Eggs Brennan (a pairing of eggs Benedict and eggs Sardou) and finish with the famous Bananas Foster—flamed tableside with cinnamon and Puerto Rican rum, and served over vanilla bean ice cream…yum!
There’s plenty more to whet the appetite with gourmet offerings like Shrimp Remoulade, Shrimp & Grits, Catfish Pecan, Smoked Salmon & Asparagus Salad and Escargot Meunière. My personal favorite: the Breaux Bridge Crawfish Enchilada, an item that Alex Brennan-Martin says really defines the restaurant’s Texas-Creole blend. “We can’t take it off the menu,” he tells me. Except, of course, when crawfish are out of season.
Trying to choose whether to brunch on Saturday or Sunday? One big draw for the Sunday crowd is the jazz band that travels to each table (they take requests!). Brunch hours are Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The earlier the better for the best seating. Oh, and if you have to wait a few minutes for your table, don’t grumble. Instead, nibble on melt-in-your-mouth pecan pralines. Just grab a few from the mountain of sweetness when you walk in the door.
There’s something about brunching in a garden setting that makes everyone jovial… even chipper. Maybe it’s the fresh air (no matter how muggy). Or the manicured shrubs and green, green lawn. Or the charming conversation. At Tiny Boxwoods in River Oaks, it’s just as likely the food. Enjoy hearty brunch favorites like the House Migas (Tex-Mex style) or Mother’s Breakfast (sausage, jalapeño cheese grits and biscuits with strawberry jam), as well as the famous Tiny’s Buffalo Burger. On Saturdays, special items include the Morning Cheese and Meat Board, Salmon Provençal and Turkey & Avocado Club. On Sundays, patrons flock in for the pizzas with a brunch twist: boldly topped with bacon and egg, steak and egg, or potato and egg. Pair it all with a mimosa, mojito or (my favorite) the mint lemonade. Oh, and Tinys’ delectable chocolate chip cookies are also available at brunch…whew!
After a leisurely brunch on the patio (if you’re savvy enough to secure a table), stroll through the garden and into the Thompson & Hanson nursery, offering a variety of beautiful plants, shrubs and garden accessories. No one will judge you if you come home from brunch with a plant, pot or perhaps a cute sitting deer. I emerged with a lovely red-flowering salvia, which reminds me of an even lovelier brunch.
One of the super-friendly Tiny’s waiters advises that larger groups should arrive before 11 a.m. on Saturdays to easily find a table. On Sundays, it’s busy by 9 a.m., so just be patient and think chipper. Be courteous to the folks behind you and decide what you want before you get to the front of the line.
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The Breakfast Klub
Speaking of lines, waiting in the one at The Breakfast Klub in Midtown is practically a rite of passage for hungry Houstonians. The line to order often runs out the door and on Saturday mornings you’ll want to be ready to chat up the customers behind you to pass the time. But it moves remarkably fast and everyone’s in a good mood. How could you possibly be blue with the Southern home-style cookin’, funky café vibe and great people watching? Besides, you’re likely to be addressed as “honey,” “sweetie” or “sugar,” which can’t help but make you smile.
When they say “everything’s bigger in Texas,” they could be referring to The Breakfast Klub’s portions, which are generous, to say the least. You may want to bring a group, order a few signature dishes and dine family style. If it’s your first visit, you must try the Wings & Waffle (I was skeptical at first, too, but it’s surprisingly scrumptious!). Another customer favorite is the good ol’ Katfish & Grits. Other breakfast plates to taste include the Pork Chops & Eggs, Green Eggs & Ham and Biskits & Gravy. There are sandwiches, salads and lunch specials, too…but it seems kind of silly to venture away from the most important meal of the day, given the restaurant’s moniker.
Don’t worry about catching specific brunch hours because here breakfast is served all day. It’s definitely popular during typical Saturday and Sunday brunch hours, but here’s a little tip: a weekday early lunch with your co-workers is a great time to escape the wait. There’s even an early bird special Monday through Fridays from 7 to 9 a.m. The early bird gets the wings and waffle.
Photographs: Julie Osterman