Brunch in Boston is a Lie

Share This

I’ve been lied to about brunch before.

Sure, you may say, “It’s just brunch, what could possibly be so lasting as a fib on the bountiful buffet or bloody mary options? Move past it, move on. It’s going to be ok. There is, at least, one other meal on this day to make up for it.”

Yet, my good friends, here is what I say to you: we’ve all been lied to about brunch. Because in Boston, brunch doesn’t exist.

“I’ve been to brunch at Aquitane, Buttery, Stephi’s, Eastern Standard, Gaslight” you say. No, you haven’t. You had a meal of high-protein with a side of toast and bacon that could be confused for either breakfast or lunch sometime in the late morning or early afternoon on a Sunday. You may have had an adult beverage of the orange juice variety to accompany it. There is a very good chance that it was very tasty.

But it wasn’t brunch.

I will defend Boston in really any category (even the T over the Metro). Yet it really falls short in the brunch department – not because of the food nor the myriad Sunday morning options, but it is because it is another victim of the dreaded Massachusetts Happy Hour provision (aka, ‘No licensee shall buy or sell, or offer or contract to buy or sell, any alcoholic beverages on consignment or under conditional sale or with the privileges of return or on any basis otherwise than a sale or purchase in good faith’).

It is a chicken-or-the-steak-and-eggs scenario, but Boston brunch can be an expensive proposition and a brief part of your Sunday morning. Our other city-dwelling counterparts in New York, San Francisco and DC are blessed with brunches that dutifully include discounted or bottomless cocktails, mimosas and bloodys. In addition to obviously bringing cost down on your bill, those reasons provide incentive to extend brunch far beyond an hour, sit-down meal.

Brunch, the verb, is a three-hour hang out with friends that includes watching golf, baseball or football in a bar while continuing to eat bacon off the buffet and refilling the pitcher. Brunch is not feasible in Massachusetts. It’s hard to justify hanging around after you’ve cleaned up your french toast when sipping $9 mimosas is the only option.

The food is often phenomenal, and brunch menus offer another time of day to go check out any of the outstanding restaurants around Boston. It’s another form of fine dining, just when it’s light out, and it is perfect for a one-on-one catch-up with a friend.

But as a brunch destination, a place where brunching-the-gerund is invoked, I will not delude myself into thinking that Boston can get to the event, the activity, that brunch should be.