They’re calorie-packed, but oh, so good. Here’s a round-up of some of the area’s tastiest.
Banish boring oatmeal. Forget an egg white omelet. When it comes to brunch on the town, many Delaware diners have stopped counting calories, cholesterol, and fat.
“It’s once a week, usually, so people often go for something a little less diet-conscious,” says Chuck Lewis, general manager of Buckley’s Tavern in Centreville, where Sunday brunch is a social gathering with a built-in cause for celebration.
Donny Merrill, chef/owner of Skipjack in Newark, would agree. He’s seen an increase in the number of brunch diners, particularly between 2 and 4 p.m. Perhaps that’s because he offers such rich alternatives as crab imperial Benedict, lobster-potato hash with poached eggs and a citrus-tarragon hollandaise, and Nutella French toast.
“I think Sunday brunch has turned into that special time of the week to splurge,” he says.
At this meal, no one needs to ask, “Where’s the pork?” Merrill tops Tater Tots with bacon, sausage, ham, scrambled eggs, cheddar Jack cheese and a chipotle aioli. The new brunch menu at Kid Shelleen’s Charcoal House & Saloon in Trolley Square features the “pork triple play,” a hoagie roll packed with crisp bacon, scrapple, pepper Jack cheese, sausage, eggs, pico de gallo, and home fries. Drip Café in Pike Creek, which has breakfast items on the menu every day, crumbles bacon and mixes it into pancake batter. The steaming stack gets a splash of house-made salted-butter-caramel sauce and a cap of roasted apples and more bacon.
Wilmington-based Maiale makes a ginger-sage pork sausage for the café, and it’s the star of a new breakfast sandwich that also includes a fried egg, Swiss cheese, arugula, and a smear of Dijon mustard—all stacked on a pretzel roll. The sausage also takes the lead role in a breakfast casserole with polenta that’s topped with a sunny-side-up egg and an herb hollandaise. “It’s my favorite item on the new spring menu,” says owner Greg Vogeley. “It’s super hearty. It’s got great flavor and a little bit or richness from the egg and hollandaise.” And although it’s high in calories, it’s gluten-free.
Breakfast Meats Abound
When it comes to meat, pork has a lot of company. Says Merrill: “I’ve noticed that people enjoy a dish with a lot of breakfast meats, such as our breakfast burger—made with beef from Herman’s Quality Meat Shoppe in downtown Newark—black forest ham, sausage, bacon, a fried egg, avocado, and ghost pepper cheese.”
Two Stones Pub in Wilmington crowns a burger with shaved pit ham, an egg and hollandaise. It’s served on an English muffin. Hollywood Grill in North Wilmington serves a certified Angus ground beef steak with two eggs any style, home fries and toast. Add a side of scrapple and you’re set.
With their entrees, diners at Buckley’s receive a complimentary plate of bacon, sausage, and scrapple that comes from Kirby & Holloway in Harrington. “When we first opened, we sent it all out,” Lewis says. “Now we ask them if they want to try scrapple.” While some decline the mush of pork scraps and trimmings, few refuse the sausage and bacon. Unless, that is, they’re vegetarian. “It’s not something typically you have every morning,” Lewis notes. “If you’re going to eat French toast made out of sticky buns, what’s a piece of sausage?”
Lewis and his wife, Michele Mitchell, the pastry chef at the Hotel du Pont, first created the sticky bun French toast at home. “It was so good,” he says, “that we had to put it on the brunch menu.” Purchased from the hotel, the pecan sticky buns are sliced and soaked in a custardy batter. They’re sautéed in the griddle so that the pecans become toasted and caramelized. “It’s not just custardy goodness; it’s also sweet and crunchy,” he says.
French Toast Variations
French toast comes in many diet-busting variations. Many include brioche, a bread made with eggs and butter. At the Rail, located at the White Clay Creek Country Club, offers brioche with a cheesecake-like filling. Chef Andrew Ramage also makes French toast bread pudding, which is rolled up, steamed, allowed to set overnight, and then sliced and pan-seared.
At Corner Bistro, Le Bus brioche is dipped in a batter with Grand Marnier, eggs, and cream, and then added to the skillet. Once it’s crisp, it’s bathed with caramel sauce and decorated with Rice Crispies that have been tossed in cocoa, nutmeg, cinnamon, and sugar. At Caffe Gelato in Newark, crème brulee serves as the batter. The brioche toast is stuffed with whipped ricotta cheese and topped with candied walnuts and roasted bananas. Krazy Kat’s in Montchanin has served brioche French toast with a mango compote, coconut milk syrup, spiced rum, and a pineapple compound butter.
Brioche also makes an appearance at Piccolina Toscana’s brunch buffet. This time, however, grilled brioche is the stage for creamy chipped prosciutto di Parma, made with shallots and a peppery cream sauce.
Like creamed chipped beef, eggs Benedict is a traditional yet rich dish that chefs love to tweak. “Benedict with any kind of seafood seems to work well,” Lewis says. Instead of the usual Canadian bacon, Buckley’s has used its house-made smoked salmon. Kid Shelleen’s has incorporated soft-shell crab, and Drip Café has used scrapple. “In the three years that we’ve been open, that’s probably been the item with the most calories,” Maiale’s Vogeley says. He took it off the spring menu because it’s so heavy.
For those who really want to ignore calories, there’s always the buffet. The Hotel du Pont has long held bragging rights as one of the best. You can pamper your palate with smoked fish, pastries, cheese, and rich entrees in the hotel’s opulent environment. At the Rail is also a buffet. Brandywine Prime Seafood & Chops in Chadds Ford mixes it up. For $19.95 per person, diners can belly up to a buffet of soups, salads, cheeses, smoked salmon and sweets. They also choose a hot entrée. The price is $30 per person for two.
Worried about over-indulging? No problem. Come Monday, you can always get back to the gym and the usual lo-cal cereal bar and cup of black coffee.