Brunch has been around since the famously indecisive Earl of Hamburger first made a sandwich and put an egg on it on a Saturday or a Sunday at noonishtime. It's breakfast and/or lunch! It's both! BRUNCH. We went to some new brunch places and ate brunch.
Terra Plata (1501 Melrose Ave, 325-1501)
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Brunch at Tamara Murphy's new restaurant Terra Plata feels like a party. Last Sunday at noontime, two parties were happening simultaneously at two rows of heavy wooden tables pushed together; each had a baker's dozen participants, and each of them had a magenta-colored blood-orange mimosa (with a fresh ginger garnish to tickle the nose) or a Bloody Maria (with garlic/chili-infused tequila/vodka) under way. One party looked like a family from a TV drama series—each grown-up sister blonder than the last, the older generation improbably smooth-skinned, the redheaded baby cooed over—and the other appeared to be a dark-haired-persons' support group, looking like they could totally take the TV family in a fight.
Terra Plata occupies the point of the triangle at Melrose and Pike. With two sides all windowy-bright, at brunchtime—even in gloomy March—they don't need to turn on the lights. Combined with the bustle and good cheer—which also includes a lavender-and-rosemary-infused gin cocktail with tart, on-tap kombucha—it's just what the doctor ordered. Depending on what you order, however, you might need to go back to sleep afterward. The biscuits, crisped around the edges with manchego baked in, are cut into four substantial triangles and nestled across a wide bed of a plate, then blanketed with thick chorizo-and-pimentón gravy, with pickled onions and chicharones scattered across for good measure, and, optionally, a couple of poached eggs ($13 without, $15 with). Still wintery-filling but less nap-inducing: Anson Mills grits with fontina and pecorino stirred in, with a heaping side of vinegary wilted kale, chard, and whatever else is coming out of the ground around here now ($12, $14 with a poached egg). Those who want dessert for breakfast can have bourbon/pecan/apple sticky-bun French toast ($14); those on the lunch side of brunch will be hard-pressed to choose between the water-buffalo burger ($15) and Terra Plata's undeniably awesome green chili pork ($15).
If the prices look a little high, that's because everything's local/artisan/etc., with some produce coming from as near as the rooftop garden, where you'll be able to brunch when the weather is fine. The TV family will look even better up there. BETHANY JEAN CLEMENT
Serious Biscuit (401 Westlake Ave N, 436-0050)
You want to eat brunch at South Lake Union's Serious Biscuit! The biscuits have a wonderful golden crust on the outside, they're tender on the inside, and if you're a biscuit purist, you can keep things simple by ordering a couple of 'em ($3 each) with seasonal jam or bacon butter ($1 each). Hungrier? Go for a biscuit sandwich! They're filled with satisfying (and hangover-curing) combinations like fried green tomatoes and eggs ($8); homemade peanut butter, ripe banana, and honey ($6); or the crispiest, crunchiest hunk of fried chicken you will ever see smothered in gravy ($8).
Now that you're drooling, know that there will be a wait. Sometimes up to a half-hour on the weekends. But like I said, you want to eat here! Get something from the espresso bar and kill some time by drawing on the chalkboard pig that stands outside the restaurant.
Then don't just order a biscuit sandwich—you need to also get a baked egg to share. The soft-cooked eggs are served in mini cast-iron skillets (I had the one cooked in Parmesan cream with arugula and sun-dried tomatoes, $9), and they come with a biscuit, so you can break off a piece and dip it into the runny yolk and cheesy sauce and welcome yourself to heaven.
Do not waste your time on the pizza. It's unimpressive and boring. Biscuits forever! MEGAN SELING
Burgundian Tavern (2253 N 56th St, 420-8943)
On the day before daylight saving time, the brunch booze specials at the Burgundian Tavern in Green Lake included the "Daylight Savings." The drinks menu said: "Rhubarb bitters and a black peppercorn infused simple syrup topped with cava and garnished with a strawberry. Is it spring yet?" It tasted more sweet than peppery and came in a flute with a giant strawberry fizzing at the top. The bubbles were freaking out. Part of the strawberry sticking out of the cava appeared to have a mole on it. A subtle garnish. A peppercorn.
The sky outside was so winter-white, it made your eyes hurt, and the Burgundian's black-with-a-hint-of-dark-brown interior exacerbated the brightness. Like the weather, the Burgundian is transitioning. "Burgundian Tavern" is on the menus, but the name painted on the big front windows was still "The Publican," and employees were wearing Publican T-shirts. "There's a Publican in Chicago that didn't like us using the name," a busboy explained. He liked the Publican better, but, he said, "the Burgundian's good too." If you have recently seen Anchorman, as I coincidentally just had, it is impossible to be in an all-day breakfast spot called the Burgundian and not think of Ron Burgundy saying, "Blue ham and eggs coming at ya, hold on, people, hope ya got your griddles," while he blew Christina Applegate's mind with his jazz flute skills.
The Burgundian's fried chicken and waffles ($15) is so mind-blowingly mountainous, you really ought to split it with someone else. It's a huge portion of fried chicken thickly covered in spicy batter, and all of that covered in chunky country gravy, surrounded by a couple soft triangles of "bacon waffle," with Four Roses bourbon maple syrup and apple butter on the side. The bacon flavor in those waffles is mostly lost in the mix, but I dug into Savory-Sweet Mountain in a happy daze, satiated long before it was over. A brûléed half of a white grapefruit ($7), which cracked appropriately when struck with a spoon, worked nicely against the heaviness.
For the few things that are a little off at the Burgundian—the first cup of coffee wasn't hot—most of the things that matter are right: The Bloody Mary's spicy, the bacon's not floppy, the scrambled eggs that came with a classic breakfast ($12) were declared "better than scrambled eggs usually are," they use local/etc. ingredients, and the service is friendly. CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE
Meander’s Kitchen (6032 California Ave SW, 932-9840)
Meander's is a cool brunch hut in West Seattle that's easy to overlook, and not just because of the signs outside proclaiming it to be a Chinese restaurant and acupuncture clinic. In the front entrance, the restaurant's owner, Miranda, chats with customers and works the open-air kitchen like a doting mom (if your mom had full arm tattoos and a bandanna). The mismatched tables and chairs, mason jar glasses, and grungy abstract paintings make the interior look like it was assembled from a country/punk garage sale. Meander's is also cramped (at peak times, there's often a wait), pulsing with life, and painted vivid orange—it feels like you're eating inside a giant egg yolk.
With slogans like "Obesity check-up (in 5 min.)" and "Arteries are for sissies" printed on the menus and windows, Meander's food is not for the frail of heart. The Decadence—eggs Benedict on two pieces of bourbon/vanilla-battered French toast for $9.25—is one example. There's also a menu specifically set aside for Belgian Liège waffles, with toppings like chocolate-dipped bacon ($6.50) and fried-banana peanut butter ($6.50). But don't let the cholesterol fool you. The food here is all locally sourced and tastes fresh as hell; with an average menu item running about $9.50, you definitely get your money's worth, and street parking outside is free.
The staff here is crazy nice, and Miranda is extremely accommodating to vegans and people with food allergies. On Fridays and Saturdays, Meander's is open from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m., so barhopping West Seattle night owls can round off their weekend benders with a sobering breakfast. On a less accommodating note, they only take cash, so leave your city-slicker credit cards at home. Julian Kusché
Judkins Street Cafe (2608 S Judkins St, 322-1091)
The cafe contains 10 tables. From the windows, one can see the neighborhood road that leads down to MLK Way, a number of bland homes, and the roof of Thurgood Marshall Elementary. Beyond the school is the Northwest African American Museum and the massive I-90 lid. If you walk a little west of the cafe, you'll see the impressive towers of Seattle's civic and business district; walk a little north, you'll come across the former home of an anarchist group, Autonomia Social Center ("Thanks to its rich, whiny neighbors, the Autonomia Social Center... is closing after only 9 months," says Pugetsoundanarchists.org). In short, the cafe is in the middle of a big city.
Judkins Street Cafe, however, is the kind of restaurant you would expect to find in a small town. It's comfortable, unpretentious, and serviced by very friendly people. But there is a big difference between this cafe and, say, one like it in Newport, Oregon: The food is not greasy and the place does not smell of fried everything. The servings at Judkins Street Cafe have a simplicity that is urban rather than rural. Small towns are about the simplicity of quantity—abundance, the fat of the land, loads of food, overwhelming plates; this cafe is about the simplicity of quality—a balance between the food's raw and cooked form, a balance in how much food is served. For example, the gravy on the biscuits and gravy ($8) isn't Paul Bunyan–thick and all over the plate like Noah's flood. As a result, the biscuits retain their surface crunchiness. The Big Breakfast ($8.50) is honest and clean (three eggs, rosemary home fries, and a choice of meat—I recommend the spicy sausage patties over the bacon, which is not peppery). The best thing on the brunch menu is the Veggie Scramble ($8): eggs, goat cheese, spinach, squash, onions, tomatoes, and mushrooms, a great version of a simple thing.
You will not be stuffed by this brunch, but you will be satisfied and leave the little place—the small town in a big city—with a mood that finds both clear and cloudy skies agreeable. CHARLES MUDEDE