I dream of BRUNCH on cold winter weekends. My husband makes creamy, rich scrambled eggs many a weekend morning, but going out for brunch is my winter fantasy. Eggs Benedict are always the magnet for me on this mid morning menu; the rich dish gently drenched in pale yellow hollandaise sauce requires a little hunting, but along the way, I have discovered some fine substitutions.
Like the four supreme burgers of December’s writing, I thought it time to share winter brunch winners. In no particular order, Pine in Hanover stands out because the glowing fireplace is so utterly welcoming in frigid weather. The varied menu is available Saturday and Sunday mornings as well. In December, I chose the grilled local sourdough with over-easy eggs which were melded so beautifully with ricotta cheese, truffled mushrooms, kale and baby greens. It was light and elegant and so unique. My husband chose the cinnamon swirl pancakes and did indeed delight in the sugar boom for the first half hour. Imagine your favorite cinnamon bun planted within a fluffy pancake, a three-stack deep creation with requisite white icing, and by all means, don’t forget the butter and maple syrup!
Saturday and Sunday brunch is also delicious at Market Table in Hanover. The industrial space is warmed easily with the freshness of the local fare. The egg front is fully covered with omelette, poached and scrambled options, a whole delectable section of sandwich concoctions (such as Misty Knoll roast turkey breast with Lillé cheese, arugula, sliced apple and mayo) not to mention the crab cakes or local beet soup with dill sour cream. We love this upscale bistrot for their often-changing menu, daily specials, and especially because they do have an offering of ‘poached eggs with Berkshire ham, hollandaise, potato hash and greens.’ Benedict would be proud.
On Main street in downtown Norwich, The Norwich Inn greets visitors from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm both weekend days. Their menu features steel-cut oatmeal with raisins, brown sugar and berries, granola, French toast, buttermilk pancakes, egg options, a few salad selections and side dishes, morning ‘cocktails and bubbles’ and several coffee options as well. Full disclosure: they do a classic Eggs Benedict.
Piecemeal Pies is one of my favorite food centers as there is always something varied and enticing. They call Saturday their ‘brunch day at the pie shop’. So in addition to their regular menu, they will prepare some fun, saucy cocktails like a ‘Corrupt Bellini‘ or a ‘Bloody Misake’ and pair them with buttermilk pecan waffles or a pea shoot, parsley and Parmesan quiche. Take a look at their clever menu and you might feel transported to a pub in any charming English hamlet. Chef/owner Justin Barrett wears an impressive apron of experience, including having worked with April Bloomfield in her Michelin-rated The Spotted Pig in New York City. The space itself is open and bright, reflective, one might add, of Justin’s degree in architecture. (The wallpaper in the loo is fabulous.)
I look forward to their return from holidays when they re-open the 16th of January. Saturday brunches run from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm.
for Piecemeal Pies’ Saturday brunch menu
A little veer west brings us to something named ‘Sunday Lunch at Simon Pearce’. Chef Jeremy Conaway and his team note that the menu items will change quite frequently but they maintain an elegant feel. ‘The mushroom strudel’ has oven-roasted tomatoes, a local goat’s cheese with a truffle vinaigrette. Another appetizer selection is a muffin toasted on a griddle and served with honey butter or a charcuterie board with various cured meats, fig and strawberry mustard and Blue Hill cheese. The main courses lean a little more lunch than brunch with a lamb burger or seared Shetland salmon, a shepherd’s pie, but it is their Bloody Mary Bar that is just the right touch after your Sunday sermon. There is a choice of Bloody Mary mixes with local, house-made and international hot sauces, pickled vegetables and an array of vodkas, of course.
Finally, we roll into Woodstock and park somewhere near the Mon Vert Café. Although they feature breakfast and lunch daily without a technical mention of brunch, their breakfast offerings are delightful from 7:30 am to 11:00 am. They do wonders with eggs, Red Hen Bakery bread, North Country Smokehouse meat and gooey, melted local cheese. The space reminds me of Piecemeal Pies with the light and new feel. I always crave a ‘West Coaster’ with two fried eggs, avocado, tomato and basil aioli or the ‘Green Mountain Morning’Wich’ with 2 other fried eggs, portobello tapenade, red onion, cheddar and arugula. If you miss the deadline, fear not! The Devil On Horseback is on the lunch menu and is electrifying: date and walnut spread, smoked bacon and goat’s cheese-the whole slathered and duly melting on thick multigrain toast. As a matter of fact, be it breakfast or lunch, the Mon Vert fare is extremely brunch-worthy any day. The kitchen closes at 4:00 pm daily.
Wishing everyone cozy, eggy, cheesy late winter mornings for 2018. Please let me know where the eggs Benedict are hiding! It’s not too late.
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