I am an unapologetic brunch fan, even though it is a near-disaster of a meal to go out for in Boston – in the winter time, you have to leave the luscious cocoon of goose-down warmth to brave the elements, wait 45 minutes to be seated nose-to-elbow with the table next to you, and pay an enormous mark-up for what is essentially fancy eggs or bread.
It should be the most reviled of all meals for its expense and aggravation, but it does have its positive attributes, namely that it has made public dining before bathing and pre-noon cocktails not only socially acceptable, but essentially requisite. Not only that, but only at brunch would battered and pan-fried toast slathered with Nutella and dotted with candied pecans be considered a meal and not dessert. It’s brilliant.
However, this mild economic downturn that we’ve been wading through does have me evaluating the cost and benefit of my expenditures. While I’m hardly one for abnegation, some smart moves can shave quite a few pennies (or dollars) off of your bill and make brunch expenditures much easier to swallow.
- Pick and choose your spots (and your cities) – For us Bostonians, going over the river into Cambridge can halve your brunch bill, and I imagine there are similar areas in other metropolises. PT & I usually go to brunch in the South End, but I recently met my friend, W, at a popular brunch place in Harvard Square and it was half as expensive for the same meal.
- Be on the look out for deals – My brunch in Cambridge was so cheap because Grafton St. was offering $4 Bloody Marys, POPS in the South End gives out 4 POPS Dollars every time we go in for brunch, which is essentially a $4 coupon for a subsequent visit. There are a lot of restaurants vying for your business, so why not make them work for it?
- Do brunch at home. Buy yourself some bloody mary mix, fire up the coffeemaker, and save a ton of dough by doing brunch at home. In a recent weekend, I met up with darling LN at Stephanie’s on Newbury for a $65 brunch (for both of us, including tax & tip); we each had one bloody mary and a salad. The next day, PT and I decided to do bagels, cream cheese, and lox at home; the bagels and wild smoked salmon came to $7.77, assuming $3-4 for the other ingredients which we already had, plus another $5 for homemade bloody marys, the total is closer to $16. $65 for service and someone else to wash up, $16 for staying in slippers. I’ll take the $16… at least once in awhile.
Despite the state of the economy, we must still eat, and we want to eat well. With a few minor changes, you can have your pan-fried bread slathered with Nutella and eat it, too.