BY ANDREW COPPOLINO
Getting brunch in Waterloo Region has been a popular activity for decades, but long gone are the days of customers lining up alongside steam tables piled with small mountain ranges of giggly processed scrambled eggs, desperately sad fatty sausages and tired, disheveled rashers of bacon. This, for a long time, was the setting for many a Mothers’ Day brunch, one of the restaurant industry’s most popular days.
Though that genre of brunch is still around – and some of them may even be quite delicious – the celebratory meal has assumed a new face and character; it has a rejuvenated orientation that meets the demands of a more sophisticated palate in Waterloo Region. That could mean freshly shucked oysters, charcuterie, huevos rancheros, banh mi and Belgian waffles made-to-order – and served with buttermilk-fried chicken.
In fact, brunch – the term, of course, is an eliding of the anterior of the word breakfast with the posterior of the word lunch – is now a robust late breakfast that was known to exist in England in the 1890s. Its precise origin is unknown but theories abound: it could have been the “hunt breakfast” smorgasbord of the English leisure class, or part of a pre-mass fasting and then large midday meal among those of the Catholic faith.
Regardless, brunch likely became popular in the United States and Canada sometime in the 1930s. It is served often until 3 p.m., at which time it perhaps is close to being “lupper” – a portmanteau of lunch and supper (although that term has not caught on in the popular dining imagination).
While it is impossible to cover all of the available options for brunch in Waterloo Region, this list captures a representative few for holiday gatherings. Please check with individual venues for their brunch hours, dish availability and pricing. Reservations may be required.
A range of international flavours might reside on the TBK brunch menu: white sausage-gravy poutine, huevos rancheros (pictured above) and full-on Irish breakfast featuring white and black pudding that will get you through the rest of the day calorie-wise, that’s for sure.
2. TWH Social at the Walper Hotel
Serving both days of the weekend, there’s a simple and classic farmhouse omelette, quinoa pudding or trout hash with soft-poached eggs as just a few of the brunch selections.
A grand-daddy of area Sunday brunches with a menu that changes seasonally. Mimosas, seafood and a carvery for prime rib and leg of lamb are part of the groaning board.
Brunch is 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. both days of the weekend. Start with mimosas and then tuck into duck hash with poached eggs or cream cheese-stuffed French toast topped with pumpkin seeds, maple syrup and whipped cream.
Saturday and Sunday brunch is served until 3 p.m. and is replete with shareable plates from fried cheese curds to a “Waterloo County scrapple” pork dish. Entrees include buttermilk-fried chicken and lobster and dill eggs Benedict.
The math is right for Saturday and Sunday brunch inside the Delta Hotel in Waterloo’s historic Barrel Yards district. Classic steak frites or smoked chicken gnocchi have been on the menu. And if you so need, they also feature a Honduran bean-mash tortilla called a baleada.
À la carte Saturday brunch with changing features is served until 3 p.m. Dishes may include Cheddar biscuits, smoked trout on potato pancakes, brioche French toast. As the holiday season grows near, look for candy cane crème brûlée.
Uptown’s Taco Farm Saturday brunch might be chicken and churros with a unique maple sugar and five-chile toasted seasoning, crema and stewed apricots. Or, how about steak and eggs with chimichurri, queso cheese-scrambled eggs, grilled tortillas, pickled onions and tomato salad?