Brunch Better

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QUESTION From: Jaime in MD

“I need to step up with a special brunch menu on Saturdays & Sundays. I'm planning to add mimosas by the carafe, and I need special/unique eggs benedict ideas, or unique crepe filling combinations. Open to all suggestions.”


HH Answer:

Once you’ve really dialed in your hollandaise, consider vegetarian and vegan option for “eggs” benni (ie, bean cakes or tofu with egg substitutes and veggie bacon.

For the omnivores, be sure you’ve perfected your standard proteins first (filet, salmon and bacon) then try featuring an abstract / less popular one each week to see what sells (e.g., pulled smoked pork or brisket, ahi tuna or lobster / crawfish / chorizo / merguez / pork roll / mortadella / gudagine / chipped beef - cheese steak / etc...).

Think about what else might go nicely with a hollandaise…or a cheese sauce and substitute and work it in as a substitute for the english muffin ( i.e., sourdough pretzel bun, veggie cake, large mushroom cap).

As for crepes. I’m of the opinion that offering crêpes means you’ll be attracting guests who expect more traditional combinations. (Google menus in and outside of the US) Think savory (ham off the bone, leeks, wilted spinach and gruyere with a mornay sauce) and sweet staples like lemon and confectioners sugar. Like sandwiches or wraps, you’re really only limited by your own imagination. Standard sweet combos can yield to pie filling inspired features (like roasted apples, walnuts and raisins -to-deconstructed canoli, creme brulee or carrot cake). You can’t go wrong with various fruits drizzled with a thick creme anglaise.

I’m experimenting with cookie butter at the moment in an effort to add some variety / explore the realm beyond Nutella.

Every concept and crowd is slightly different - and not knowing anything about yours, I’m not advocating for you to 86 carafes as much as I’m suggesting you consider the following:

Sparkling wine (especially the inexpensive stuff) loses it’s bubbles very quickly so while your guests are enjoying the first one, their 2nd (and 3rd) are becoming progressively different (and not in a good way).

Mimosas are a special indulgence. I don’t like special things in mass quantity / by the pitcher (i.e., I wouldn’t want (or serve) martinis, Manhattans or Moscow Mules by the pitcher either...ok well maybe mules if I had a beautiful giant copper pitcher… but you get the idea.

Cleaning oj / pulp / etc out of a carafe isn’t fun either and a carafe takes up more real estate on the table.

I like the efficiency of saving servers and bartenders unnecessary steps but not at the cost of consistency or visual appeal.

Additionally, few people are looking to pound mimosas (or Michiladas) during brunch to let loose. In my experience, those folks will use a mimosa as a prelude to something a bit stronger....like a martini, mixed drink, bottle of rosé or something...depending on your crowd/concept a very strong bloody mary that may resemble a plateau de fruits de mer more than a tomato/clamato juice on the rocks (like this one called a “Chum Bucket” at The Surfing Pig in Wildwood NJ: http://youtu.be/78tZYyO3-6c).

As far as your concern over waste: You should be paying low enough price point on the sparkling wine (or adjust your prices accordingly) so that those 0.3s or 0.4s shouldn’t matter much at all (but pay equal if not more attention to your magins). Additionally, be sure you’re using gas bottle stoppers in between pours except for big pushes.

IMHO “Bottomless Mimosas” have a far greater appeal than mimosas by the carafe & limit the number of carafes behind the bar. I’d sooner have a cart or 2nd service station / mimosa station for servers (or self-service for guests) with a double walled ice tub (filled with 3bottles) 2 pitchers of OJ and flavored syrups / garnishes, etc...

Regards,

Josh Sapienza