Table for One is a weekly column by Senior Editor Eric Kim, who loves brunching alone and seeks to celebrate the beauty of solitude in its many forms.
I have a proposition Let’s cancel brunch. Or at least, what it’s become: waking up before noon on the weekend, followed by an hour-long wait for overpriced food and sugary cocktails at a crowded restaurant.
Who ever said this was a good idea?
There’s always that one friend who suggests it first. Let’s meet at 11 a.m. on a Sunday, 50 minutes outside of where we all live.
I’m always that friend who casually inches the meeting time closer to 2 to 3 p.m. Everyone agrees (for the most part).
The thing is, brunch was meant to be fun. Most sources concur that Guy Be ringer coined the word first, in an 1895 Hunter’s Weekly essay titled “Brunch: A Plea,” as an antidote to having to wake up early for no reason. According to Be-ringer, the “world would be kinder and more charitable if” we all slept in on Sunday, skipping breakfast and opting instead for a late meal no sooner than noon.
Brunch is, he asserted, cheerful, sociable, and inciting. It is talk-compelling. It puts you in a good temper; it makes you satisfied with yourself and your fellow-beings. It sweeps away the worries and cobwebs of the week. Not only would such a meal allow for more revelry into Saturday evening, it would also omit the need for breakfast, which is, in Be ringer’s words, consoling, but not exhilarating.
I’ve never been much of a breakfast person myself: I prefer a single six-minute egg most mornings, if only to stave off the black coffee from burning a hole into my stomach, maybe a crunchy salad on the weekend (if I happen to wake up early enough).
But a late breakfast, early lunch? B lunch? I can get down with that.
This doesn’t solve the issue of going out for it, which is, I think, what makes brunch so terrible these days. The brunch menu at a restaurant is often the chef’s afterthought. As William Grimes reported for The New York Times, “Chefs hate brunch.”
According to celebrity chef Bobby Flay, They hate cooking it and they hate thinking about it. Saturday night tends to be the busiest of the week, and they’ve probably gone out to have a few drinks afterwards. Suddenly it’s Sunday morning and they have to come in and cook eggs.
“Brunch is total garbage,” our test kitchen director Josh Cohen agrees. “There’s nothing more disappointing than going to a restaurant you’re excited about on a Sunday, only to realize they’ve switched out the menu for a selection of dumb eggs.”
“It’s rare that chefs put as much love into their brunch menu as they do their dinner menu,” food stylist and recipe developer Amelia Ramp tells me. “The servers are usually lower quality, too.”
“Hungover,” Cohen chuckles.
One way to solve this problem is to just cook your own brunch. For me, that’s the perfect medium: a way for me to enjoy the food which is always varied and bountiful at brunch without all the people, the commute, and most importantly, the cost.
“Brunch is just a reminder that I’m not rich or a model,” food editor Jesse Sze wczyk laments.⠀
On Sundays, anyway, I want nothing more than to sleep in as late as possible and, of course, to putter about my kitchen slowly and leisurely.
The keyword here is leisurely: Eggs are for breakfast on the go. Brunch, on the other hand, is for the things you don’t have time to make Monday through Friday: French toast, grits, maple-candied bacon, etc.
Brunch is the kind of food you make not just because you want to eat it, but because you want to relish in the cooking of it, as well.
There’s nothing more satisfying than composing a plate of your favorite foods, each part perfected exactly how you like—then taking it to bed to eat alone, curled up with a good book.