Guide to Brunch
Whether you’re looking for a little hair of the dog via bloody mary or an elegant buffet with oysters and champagne, there’s a brunch in New Hampshire that hits just the right spot.
It’s a beautiful day, it’s a rainy day, it’s Mother’s Day. On any given Sunday, there are abundant reasons to indulge in a mid-day celebration. Whether à la carte or buffet, a Sunday (and sometimes Saturday) meal can satisfy a large group or intimate duo with sweet and savory choices that start with a nice, bubbly mimosa or hearty bloody mary. The following guide is organized by type of brunch, from casual to fun to fancy to the best fit for your mood. Only restaurants with a special menu for brunch are included.
From Whence Cometh Brunch?
The origins of brunch are actually quite amusing and make a fun conversation starter next time you’re sitting at a breakfast table with friends and an alcoholic beverage in hand.
According to Mental Floss (once a real magazine, now a website), the concept of brunch was first proposed by the British writer Guy Beringer as a remedy for the all-too-common Sunday morning hangover. The usual heavy fare of meat pies and eggs that constituted a traditional English breakfast could be eased into with some lighter pastries, a mood of serenity, and, should it be needed, a little hair of the dog that bit you. A single repast, mid-morning, meant one less meal to prepare (in case a nap was desired). And it made the ideal setting for friends to share their decadent tales from the previous evening. Mental Floss quotes Beringer himself: “Brunch is cheerful, sociable and inciting. It is talk-compelling. It makes you satisfied with yourself and your fellow beings.”
So, whether it’s two dudes discussing debauchery or simply mom and mémère out for an elegant meal, let’s lift a glass (or a teacup) to the best meal ever invented.
Elegant Brunch Dining
A mid-day meal at a sophisticated restaurant gives one a chance to explore options, and to get the feel of the ambiance and quality that an evening meal could provide.
A multimillion-dollar renovation a few years ago transformed the dowdy Hanover Inn into a stunning modern space complete with Pine, a sleek-yet-rustic restaurant. Brunch offers some of the most inventive food in New Hampshire prepared by Chef Justin Dain. He was recently honored with the opportunity to present a meal at the James Beard House in New York City. The menu also includes their famous super-juicy burger and the on-trend “toasts,” local sourdough slices that are grilled and topped with lemon-scented shrimp or braised short ribs with roasted shallots and a parsnip purée.
Get There When: Sat-Sun, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Where: Hanover Inn, 2 E Wheelock St., Hanover Contact: (603) 646-8000, pineathanoverinn.com
Granite Restaurant & Bar at the Centennial Hotel 96 Pleasant St., Concord (603) 227-9000, thecentennialhotel.com 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Offering a special Mother’s Day buffet brunch with seatings at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., $45 Epoch Restaurant & Bar at the Exeter Inn 90 Front St., Exeter 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (603) 778-3762, epochrestaurant.com Offering a special Mother’s Day buffet brunch, $49.99
Bedford Village Inn 2 Olde Bedford Way, Bedford (603) 472-2001, bedfordvillageinn.com Saturday and Sunday on the porch from 9 a.m.to 2 p.m. Offering a special Mother’s Day buffet brunch, $49 Oak & Grain at the Inn at Pleasant Lake 853 Pleasant St., New London (603) 873-4833, innatpleasantlake.com Three-course, prix-fixe brunch starts at 11:30 a.m. with a cocktail reception. Brunch at 12 p.m., $35 The Grazing Room at the Colby Hill Inn 33 The Oaks St., Henniker (603) 428-3281, colbyhillinn.com 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Grand Brunch Buffets
If you don’t want to make decisions based on a menu description and you have a hearty appetite, then the buffet brunch is for you. All your favorites are there, whether you crave seafood, made-to-order omelets or tender waffles soaked in real maple syrup. Dig in!
Wentworth by the Sea, New Castle
Yes, I’ll have another mimosa! Why not, they keep pouring them while you make yet another trip to the generous buffet display. The raw bar goes above and beyond oysters and cocktail shrimp with the addition of a few marinated seafood salads. I’m not sure why the dessert display is so prominent, but it’s probably just a reminder to save room for a slice of decadent chocolate cake, a few spoonfuls of pudding or a cookie slipped into your pocket. In between, find carving and omelet stations, plus hot shrimp simmering in a saucepan. Oh yes, there’s a three-piece jazz group on stage to help you relax into the day.
Get There When: Bubbles & Jazz Sunday Brunch in the Wentworth Grand Dining Room from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., $39.95; grander displays on Mother’s Day, $54 Where: 588 Wentworth Rd., New Castle Contact: (603) 422-7322, wentworth.com
The Foundry, Manchester
Start with the freshly shucked oysters, shrimp cocktail and smoked salmon before moving onto a healthy mixed green salad. OK, now dive into Chef Provencher’s succulent corned beef hash and pork ribs. Yes, take a few more. Also, find an omelet station, local bacon, gooey mac ’n’ cheese, buttery sticky buns and, on the dessert station, house-made donuts, glazed and embedded with a few chocolate chips. As with most things, selections vary by the season. The tasty bloody marys are extra.
Get There When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., $27 Where: 50 Commercial St., Manchester Contact: (603) 836-1925, foundrynh.com
Gauchos Churrascaria 62 Lowell St., Manchester and 6 Elm St., Nashua Manchester: (603) 669-9460, Nashua: (603) 881-3663, gauchosbraziliansteakhouse.com 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., $17.95 Mountain View Grand Resort & Spa 101 Mountain View Rd., Whitefield (603) 837-2100, mountainviewgrand.com Mother’s Day Grand Buffet 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., $36 Currier Museum of Art 150 Ash St., Manchester Music & Mimosas Reservations are required and can be made online or by calling (603) 669-6144, ext. 108. Held on the second Sunday of the month from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. $19.95 and $24.95 for Mother’s Day DoubleTree by Hilton (formerly the Crowne Plaza) 2 Somerset Pkwy., Nashua (603) 886-1200, speakerscornerbistro.com Champagne Sunday Brunch Plans are not clear at press time if Speaker’s Corner will be rebranded as the Crowne Plaza transitions into the DoubleTree. 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., $19.95 The Red Blazer 72 Manchester St., Concord (603) 224-4101, theredblazer.com 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., $13.99
The Old Salt & Lamie’s Restaurant and Inn 490 Lafayette Rd., #9, Hampton (603) 926-8322, oldsaltnh.com 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., $19.99 The Old Courthouse 30 Main St., Newport (603) 863-8360, eatatthecourthouse.com 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., $16.95 The Hilltop Restaurant at Steele Hill Resorts 516 Steele Hill Rd., Sanbornton (603) 524-0500, steelehillresorts.com Sun 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., $19.95 Enjoy brunch with a view. Ledges Restaurant at The White Mountain Hotel & Resort 87 Fairway Dr., North Conway (603) 356-7100, whitemountainhotel.com Grand Sunday Brunch 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., $21 Another destination with lovely views. Red Fox Bar & Grille 49 Rte. 16, Jackson (603) 383-4949, redfoxbarandgrille.com 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., $8.99 Expect to pay more on Mother’s Day. Atkinson Resort & Country Club 85 Country Club Dr., Atkinson (603) 362-8700, atkinsonresort.com 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., $25.95 Mother’s Day, $47
Breakfast is so American, but these spots add a bit of cultural diversity to the table.
Tuscan Kitchen, Portsmouth
When you start with really good house-made Italian bread, it’s a short trip to a brunch experience with a taste of Italy. The breakfast pizza is topped with wisps of spinach, shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano, prosciutto and a perfectly soft egg. It’s made on hand-tossed dough and browned in the wood-fired oven for a slight taste of char. French toast is also made with their artisan bread, which is soaked in cream and topped with a lemon sauce and served with maple syrup on the side. And then the brunch drinks — peach bellini, pear-ginger and blood orange variations all topped with Prosecco. After brunch, stroll into the attached market for a gelato and an armful of house-made sausages, pasta, sauces, Italian condiments of all types and a local honey infused with the scent of truffle. The deli case is packed with salads and prepared salmon and chicken dishes to take home for dinner. It’s all good. Abbondanza!
Get There When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Salem location (67 Main St.) also serves a Sunday Pranza starting at noon. Where: 581 Lafayette Rd., Portsmouth Contact: (603) 570-3600, tuscanbrands.com
More Brunch Choices
Italian Dante’s Bistro Bar & Grille 567 Calef Hwy., Barrington (603) 664-4000, dantespasta.com Jazz, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Cajun Madear’s 175 Hanover St., Manchester (603) 206-5827, madears603.com 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. Modern Mexican Vida Cantina 2456 Lafayette Rd., Portsmouth (603) 501-0648, vidacantinanh.com 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Old England The London Tavern at The Birchwood Inn 340 Rte. 45, Temple (603) 878-3285, thebirchwoodinn.com 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Brazilian Gauchos Churrascaria 62 Lowell St., Manchester and 6 Elm St., Nashua Manchester: (603) 669-9460, Nashua: (603) 881-3663, gauchosbraziliansteakhouse.com 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., $17.95
Fun and Funky Brunch Options
Sometimes it’s about more than what’s on your plate.
The food at Portsmouth’s Street is as fun as the atmosphere. Brunch runs the gamut from Mexican cemita sandwiches on soft, seeded buns to a healthy Singapore salad bowl to a variety of “Hollandaise Carriers,” including the Sweet Home Alabruncha — cornbread topped with pulled pork, poached eggs, hollandaise, a drizzle of BBQ sauce and scallions. There’s even a “Crazy Toast” with a fun face made with fruit and bacon to amuse the little ones. Mimosas get a little crazy too with the Maximosa with Lillet and Gran Marnier added to this classic brunch cocktail.
Get There When: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Where: 801 Islington St., Portsmouth Contact: (603) 436-0860, streetfood360.com
Umami Farm Fresh Café 284 1st New Hampshire Turnpike, Northwood (603) 942-6427, umaminh.com 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Corner House Inn 22 Main St., Center Sandwich 11:30 a.m. (603) 284-6219, cornerhouseinn.com
Taverns, Breweries and Wineries Offering Brunch
Sometimes the libation is just as important as the food.
The Bistro at LaBelle Winery, Amherst
The lovely winery tasting room, a hall space above the fermentation tanks and a small room are the usual spaces for the Sunday brunch that offers a short but sweet menu featuring creative takes on French toast, pancakes, frittatas, a Benedict and an egg special. Selections change weekly. Special buffet brunch offering for Mother’s Day in the Great Room for $49
Get There When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Where: 345 Rte. 101, Amherst Contact: (603) 672-9898 ext. 1, thebistroatlabelle.com
The Crown 99 Hanover St., Manchester (603) 218-3132, thecrownonhanover.com 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Railpenny Tavern 8 Exeter Rd., Epping (603) 734-2609, railpennytavern.com 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Rí Rá 22 Market St., Portsmouth (603) 319-1680, rira.com/Portsmouth Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mama McDonough’s Irish Pub 5 Depot St., Hillsborough (603) 680-4148, facebook.com/mamamcdonoughs Breakfast on Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Sonny’s Tavern 328 Central Ave., Dover (603) 343-4332, sonnystaverndover.com 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Hobbs Tavern 2415 White Mountain Hwy., Ossipee (603) 539-2000, hobbstavern.com Sunday breakfast, 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Revolution Taproom & Grill 61 N Main St., Rochester (603) 244-3022, revolutiontaproomandgrill.com Sundays, 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Try the Brewery Burger with bacon stout marmalade, $13. Chapel + Main Restaurant and Brewery 83 Main St., Dover (603) 842-5170, chapelandmain.com The special Sunday menu 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. The special menu with brunch to dinner options changes weekly. Flag Hill Distillery & Winery 297 North River Rd., Lee (603) 659-2949, flaghill.com Let the sparkling Cayuga white flow at their make-your-own-mimosa bar. Brunch dates are Mother’s Day with live music, May 13, July 22, August 19, September 30 and October 21. Starts at 11 a.m. and the table is yours for the rest of the day. Reservations necessary. Gilmanton Winery & Vineyard Gilmanton 528 Meadow Pond Rd., Gilmanton (603) 267-8251, gilmantonwinery.com 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Five-course, prix-fixe menu, $15.95 Oak House 110 Main St., Newmarket (603) 292-5893, oakhousenewmarket.com 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Woodstock Inn Station & Brewery 135 Main St., North Woodstock (603) 745-3951, woodstockinnnh.com Breakfast daily from 7 a.m.-11:30 a.m. and until 12:30 p.m. on Sunday. Also offering a special Mother’s Day Buffet Brunch from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., $21.95.
Bistros or Gastropubs Not Usually Open for Lunch
Here’s a chance to see how creative your favorite nightspot is with eggs, sandwiches and waffles.
The Birch on Elm, Manchester
The space is eclectic, the food is good and the drinks are even better. Find a very interesting menu that includes lamb poutine, bacon and beef hash, chicken and waffles with sage-infused maple syrup, plus a variety of inspired tacos. Enjoy fresh-squeezed OJ for your mimosa. Folks in the hospitality industry can enjoy 30 percent off of their meal.
Get There When: Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Where: 931 Elm St., Manchester Contact: (603) 782-5365, thebirch.restaurant
Rudi’s 20 High St., Portsmouth (603) 430-7834, rudisportsmouth.com Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The District 103 Congress St., Portsmouth (603) 501-0586, thedistrictnh.com Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The Wilder Restaurant & Bar 174 Fleet St., Portsmouth (603) 319-6878, wilderportsmouth.com 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Bistros or Gastropubs Open for Lunch
They’re adding waffles and egg dishes to the sandwich lunch menu.
Firefly American Bistro & Bar, Manchester
Find a full array of à la carte choices from a Monte Cristo to a goat cheese and spinach salad to a juicy half-pound burger classically dressed with a Bermuda onion and Beefsteak tomatoes. Go traditional with the Firefly Benedict, featuring Maine lobster and a dill hollandaise. Wash it all down with a nicely spiced bloody mary variation and trick it out with pickled veggies or add more spice. There must be 30 bottles of various hot sauces to tease your tongue at the bloody mary bar.
Get There When: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Where: 22 Concord St., Manchester Contact: (603) 935-9740, fireflynh.com
River House 53 Bow St., Portsmouth (603) 431-2600, riverhouse53bow.com 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (November through March only) CR’s The Restaurant 287 Exeter Rd., Hampton (603) 929-7972, CRstherestaurant.com 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Taverne on the Square 2 Pleasant St., Claremont (603) 287-4416, loc8nearme.com 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Covered Bridge Farm Table 57 Blair Rd., Campton (603) 536-1331, farmtablenh.com 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Millstone at 74 Main 74 Newport Rd., New London (603) 526-4201, 74mainrestaurant.com 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.