Sunday Brunch Is Meant to Be Shared

03 Dec 2020

Enjoying a special time with family and friends

By RAY LINVILLE  »  Photos by Mollie Tobias

When guests arrive for the holidays or friends want to plan a get-together, sometimes the first question is, “Where can we have brunch?” At this time of the year, when more is merrier, the setting needs to be attractive, the service has to be exceptional, and the atmosphere should be cheerful.

As celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain once remarked, “Remember, brunch is served only once a week.” Here are a few ideas to celebrate with food every Sunday.

The Creative

In downtown Aberdeen, brunch is served from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., the most hours in the Sandhills, at Mason’s Restaurant & Grocery. Its weekend menu includes two scrumptious Benedicts (poached eggs with hollandaise sauce) not available on weekdays: Over Yonder (fried green tomatoes and bacon) and Old-Fashioned (smoked ham). Mason’s also offers a great take on the Southern novelty of a crispy hot Nashville chicken thigh on a buttermilk biscuit with a drizzle of honey.  “Our special Benedicts bring something creative to the area,” says chef Brian Hainley, who co-owns the restaurant with his wife Alison.

The Sly Fox in Southern Pines serves the area’s favorite British classics with an innovative twist. Sunday brunch is available 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. when you can order the whole British countryside that comes with the Full English Breakfast: two eggs, banger, Irish bacon, black pudding, house-made Heinz beans, sauteed mushrooms, and grilled tomato with toast and jelly. (Yes, that’s all one serving.) Plan to fast for the rest of
the day.

Region’s Best

On Midland Road, Ironwood Café serves an amazing collection of breakfast and lunch items for brunch on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. with, of course, premium wine choices, house cocktails, and craft beers. House-made Bloody Marys and mimosas are also very popular. You don’t have to go to Charleston for the region’s best chicken and waffles. Cornflake-breaded chicken served on malted red velvet waffles with rosemary-infused maple syrup and Baileys custard is a great way to celebrate a weekend.

In the historic steam plant building that once provided power to the entire village of Pinehurst is a fabulous Sunday brunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. At Pinehurst Brewing Company, three brunch specials are on a paper menu (not listed online). Edging out chicken & waffle and a brisket scrambler and potato kegs as my first recommendation is the area’s best shrimp and grits: Parmesan cheese grits topped with a creole sauce are served with blackened shrimp.

With a rustic, charming, and elegant ambiance, Southern Prime Steakhouse in Southern Pines is well-known for its dinner steaks chargrilled on a 1,400-degree grill. However, equally deserving of recognition is its Sunday brunch, which begins at 11:30 a.m., when a four-ounce petite filet mignon is on the menu. Served with two eggs any style and home fries, it’s one of the best deals in the Sandhills.

Thinking French

At Betsy’s Crepes in Southern Pines, breakfast and brunch are its specialties. It is just as popular on Sunday as on all the other days, but on Sunday it closes at 2 p.m. That’s still plenty of time to choose among the more than two dozen crepes on the menu or to be imaginative by choosing a batter, cheese, meat, veggies, and other ingredients to create your own design.

At Broad Street Bakery & Café, also in Southern Pines and next door to Betsy’s, expect to find the best French toast in the Sandhills. House-made bread is simply grilled to perfection. A little butter and syrup are all you need to enjoy the rest of the day. A more vigorous appetite would enjoy the breakfast burrito: one egg, hash browns, sausage, cheese, onion, green peppers, salsa, and sour cream. The front porch is the perfect place to sit and watch the world go by. Open until 1:30 p.m.
on Sunday.

Brunching with Golf Fans

Before the coronavirus arrived, do you remember the famous Sunday spread in the elegant dining room at Mid Pines Inn & Golf Club in Southern Pines? It was so amazing. Let’s hope that it can return soon. Meanwhile, you can relax inside Pop’s Lounge or outside on the patio. Order from a limited menu that includes soups, salads, and sandwiches while everyone waits until the dining room can open again. The scenery is still breathtaking and continues to amaze locals and out-of-town guests.

The 1906 Grill at Southern Pines Golf Club offers a casual atmosphere and warm hospitality for golfers and brunch-seekers alike. Earlier this year, the operation of the golf course and its grill was taken over by the Pine Needles/Mid Pines family that has added their own flair to the bill of fare. Come and enjoy the golf scene as you order off the menu. Although the grill usually shifts from breakfast to lunch around 11 a.m., “we pretty much make whatever a customer wants,” says the grill’s Georgia Windburn.

Large Family Gathering

When my grown kids with two spouses and four grandchildren combined are on the scene, my wife insists that I call the Pine Crest Inn. A little-known secret is that the Crystal Room, the small room next to the main dining area, is just perfect for a family gathering of 12 or less. Enjoyable even before the pandemic, its availability now during the era of social distancing makes it even more desirable. Although limited to breakfast items, the favorites once on the buffet line are now plated and served by the staff on Sunday from 7 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

The Carolina Dining Room is again offering an incredible buffet on Sunday. Because it ends at 10 a.m. and includes only breakfast items, it is more a late breakfast than brunch. However, it continues to impress and remains a prominent place to take out-of-town guests whom you want to entertain. It’s first-come, first-serve now during the era of the pandemic, so no reservations in advance are needed, and it can accommodate large groups.

Expect some last-minute menu changes to continue during the era of the coronavirus. Always call and make reservations in advance. You don’t want to be disappointed when you’re taking family or friends to Sunday brunch.

Don’t be like Homer Simpson, the zany character in the animated sitcom “The Simpsons,” who is famously known for saying, “I’ve discovered a meal between breakfast and brunch.” Instead, savor that time with family and friends on Sundays and plan a special opportunity to enjoy brunch.

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