I think we can officially call it. We’re in deep midwinter.
It’s the time of year when we’re not sure how much longer winter will last, and we’re not sure how much more we can take. But instead of dwelling on the interminable gray ahead of us, we Minnesotans make plans. As many plans as we can. So many plans. Basically, anything to look forward to in the short term will do.
So, this week, let’s do brunch.
It’s the best idea for a meal, really, because you can eat whatever you like — breakfast, lunch and alcohol — with no shame. It’s what you’re supposed to do. It’s brunch.
Schedule one of the best spots for brunch in Rochester on your calendar for the next month of Sundays, and spring will be here before we know it.
Pescara. From the menu, Pescara’s brunch buffet might not look like anything special; just your average hotel-based restaurant brunch. But you’d be wrong. The quality of the food and the skill of the preparation elevate scrambled eggs, gouda hash browns and biscuits and gravy to amazing heights. When you leave, you’ll wonder what about your meal was so amazing, but you’ll know it’s one of the best brunches you’ve ever had. (150 S. Broadway; brunch served from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays.)
Zumbro River Cafe. I love this sunny, quiet little cafe adjacent to Dunn Bros Coffee (120 Elton Hills Drive NW). It feels like a throwback to a mom-and-pop diner, except for the focus on organic and locally produced foods. There’s plenty to love here, including several options for Belgian waffles, an “Elvis” sandwich (peanut butter and banana) and an “Elvis deluxe” too (peanut butter, banana and bacon). You know their quiche is always a good choice, and what’s better than finishing it out with Dunn Bros coffee? They’re open 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday.
Five West. During weekend brunch at Five West, you might want to try out the Cajun eggs benedict, which is the traditional dish with the addition of Andouille sausage. Or just stop kidding yourself and get the bananas foster French toast, s’more waffle or the breakfast burger, which is topped with bacon, ham, a fried egg, American cheese and a maple sauce with hash browns on the side. (Open 7 a.m. daily; 1991 Commerce Drive NW)
ZZest Cafe and Bar. It’s another contender for best brunch in town, but they play a little hard to get in that brunch is served on only one Sunday a month. It’s worth planning ahead though, for the breakfast tacos with chorizo, salsa, egg, pineapple and cilantro or the bacon burger with tarragon aioli and comte cheese OR the duck confit hash with potato, fried eggs, lamb’s bacon, truffle salsa and baguette — and don’t forget one of their famous bloody marys. The next Sunday brunch is slated for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 21 (1190 16th St. SW).
Forager. The Rochester gastro-pub is the latest to jump into the brunch fray; they’re just in their third week serving brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sundays (1005 Sixth St. NW). In addition to their super delicious wood-fired pizza selection, as well as several solid entrees such as their cast iron mac and cheese, there are several new breakfast items. Grab a huevos rancheros for a southwest flair; it’s prepared with black beans, housemade tortilla, chipotle tomato sauce, avocado, queso fresco and eggs.
The corn pancakes are fascinating and look delicious, as does the croquet madame, an open-face ham, egg and cheese sandwich. You guys, they even have a breakfast pizza with bacon, egg, potato, cheddar cheese, white gravy and pickled pepper relish.
Why brunch, and why now? “I’m just excited to have another great brunch spot that is super family friendly,” says owner Annie Henderson.
To add to the family appeal, Forager recently flooded a part of their beautiful patio. Kids can bring their skates or just play under the pergola in their boots. This means while you count down the days until your next brunch (and eventually, spring), you also can fully embrace all that winter has to offer.
Kim Van Brunt is a Rochester freelance writer. Send restaurant news and tips to her at email@example.com