Let's Do Brunch

This late-morning meal offers a chance to socialize, sip cocktails, and sample East Side’s slickest eateries

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"Brunch" is a dreamy word. One syllable, yet it conjures so many images. Sunlit tables. Steaming coffee. Poached eggs and hollandaise sauce. Celery jutting out of Bloody Mary glasses. The caffeinated banter of friends. Better than breakfast, jauntier than lunch, brunch is an occasion, vaguely scheduled around noon. Brunch promises that nothing important will follow, nor should it. Brunch is the portmanteau that keeps on giving – especially if you opt for that second mimosa.

Let me add a bold claim: There is no better place to brunch than Providence. I don’t mean in Rhode Island. I don’t mean in New England. I mean in the world. With its density of fine dining establishments and resident foodies, Providence was practically designed for brunchers, and the East Side is one of its epicenters. Because brunch isn’t just about the food; it’s about the stroll down picturesque streets, embracing friends on the sidewalk, and gossiping in the foyer as you wait for a table. It’s about waving to familiar faces across the busy dining room; the stalemate of the menu, because everything looks so good. As you sit by the window and watch pedestrians amble by, the entire neighborhood seems to choreograph a perfect Sunday morning on your behalf. Sure, you can find splendid brunches in Paris and Napa – or the West Side – but no one does it better than we do.

The proof: eight local restaurants, each with its dedicated brunch menu. Every venue is unique, walkable, and – much to our surprise – respectful to your wallet. Some have special service on specific days; some will feed you brunch whenever you feel like it. Keep this list close; all kinds of porches and patios open in the spring, launching a whole new experience.

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The Snuggly Brunch
Well, of course a place called The Duck & Bunny has brunch. The Wickenden Street mainstay is famous for its cupcakes, crepes, and outdoor patio, and the owners describe it as a “snuggery,” which is practically synonymous with late-morning socials. But here’s the even better news: The Duck and Bunny hosts brunch every day, from 10am to 4pm. The special menu is eclectic, from four-potato latkes to vegan pancakes and the “Eggs Bun-a-Duck.” Yet the Rhody standout is the New York System Hot Wiener Omelette, which truly is “all the way.” 

The Cool Brunch
The Salmon Plate is exactly the kind of fare one can expect from Milk Money: a masterful mix of herb cream cheese, pickled red onion, and pain de mie – sort of like lox and bagels, but with delicate breads. Milk Money has its share of classics, like the braised pork hash and the Chicken N’ Biscuit, as well as lighter alternatives, such as the yogurt-filled Breakfast Bowl and Kale Caesar salad with buttered biscuit croutons. And take it from us: The atmospheric brick-and-wood interior with its clever decor is perfect on a bright weekend morning. 

The Fun Brunch
Standing on a busy corner of Hope Street, KG Kitchen (formerly KG KitchenBar) is both a cozy neighborhood cocktail lounge and a trendy little restaurant, with a top-notch menu by chef Kevin Gaudreau. Case in point: the sprawling brunch menu, running the gamut of eggs, meats, and batter-based delights. The best part of the KG Kitchen brunch is how many things you can eat without utensils; the “handheld” section includes the Egg Sandwich, Breakfast Tacos, and The Brunch Burger. On second thought – the best part may be the bar and its rainbow of cocktails.

The Worldly Brunch
Among its many virtues, The Salted Slate is renowned for its global influences, which explains the existence of a masterpiece like Duck Confit Poutine, or the Ahi Flatbread Sandwich, or the Lemon Ricotta Pancakes. All of this is a testament to the culinary imagination of chef Benjamin Lloyd, whose brunch is like none other. Keep in mind, The Salted Slate is one of the most fashionable spots in Wayland Square, and competition for tables can be stiff. If you’re just passing through, consider picking up The Salted Slate’s Bag of Warm Donuts. 

The Euro-Chic Brunch
Red Stripe American Brasserie has its white linen and expansive wine list, and the very term “brasserie” smacks of European panache. But the gigantic fork that hangs over the front door also hints at Red Stripe’s playfulness, as does the accessible Sunday brunch menu. Here you’ll find The Forager Omelet, with wild mushrooms, gruyere, and herbs, as well as the Baked German Apple Pancake. Red Stripe also serves special beverages for its brunch, including the Striped Germain (St-Germain, champagne, and grapefruit juice) and the Bellini (champagne and peach schnapps). Can we hear a “Santé!” 

The Elegant Brunch
Persimmon has gained national attention for its complex dishes and ornate presentation, the hallmarks of owner-chef Champe Speidel. The ephemeral menu ensures a different experience from visit to visit, so it’s fitting that Persimmon hosts its brunches only once per month. The next event is slated for February 3, and although no hints were available at press time, past highlights include deviled eggs with a smoked trout mousse, Spaghetti Bolognese, and capeletti filled with chestnut purée. 

The Stately Brunch
In spirit, Cook & Brown Public House is still exactly that: a neighborhood haunt for folks to convene and share a pint. But this place is also slickly designed and a cloth-napkin experience, and it’s especially splendid on a crisp morning with friends. The brunch menu is full of surprises, including the Smoked Bluefish Cake Benedict, the Waffle Ice Cream Sandwich, and the Lamb Merguez Hash. For visitors from out of town, Cook & Brown is also the perfect place to show off some Ocean State seafood. 

The Romantic Brunch
For a romantic morning, it’s hard to beat a Victorian gatehouse that overlooks the Seekonk River. The only thing that could match the Waterman Grille’s venerable atmosphere is the wood-fired grill, manned by chef Noah Metnick. Here you’ll find the traditional entries – Buttermilk Pancakes, Challah French Toast –as well as some newcomers, like the Avocado Toast, the Mediterranean-style Shakshuka, and the Mushroom Grilled Cheese. The windows already offer splendid riverside views, and they’ll get even more splendid in the spring.