By Alissa Lawton Special to Published Jul 14, 2012 at 10:18 AM

I met some friends at Blue's Egg last Sunday for my favorite meal: brunch. They'd been before, but I was a first timer and the place lived up to every bit of hype I'd heard. After two cups of complimentary coffee – a nice touch since the wait was over an hour at that point – we were seated and starving.

The entire place, inside and out, was packed despite the fact that it was hotter than hell outside. When it comes to brunch, we Wisconsinites will brave minus 30-degree wind chills and 110-degree heat indexes. And we'll do it while drinking roasting-hot, free coffee.

There's a nice, quaint feel to the place, a mom and pop vibe from the diner décor and extremely friendly staff. The food, however, is something entirely different – in a good way. If you're looking for the same old thing, this probably isn't your best bet. Everything on the menu, including the drinks, has a creative twist on it.

Usually I'm a predictably Bloody Mary brunch gal, but when I'm somewhere new I feel the need to branch out, plus, both of my friends ordered the bloody (with bacon in them, of course) so, for the sake of being different, a JP's O.J. it is! Consisting of 44 North Huckleberry Vodka, X Rated blood orange liqueur and fresh squeezed orange juice, it's like citrus candy in a glass and I highly recommend it.

I'd been warned not to concentrate too much on my carb intake at this particular establishment. The hash browns are known far and wide as simply to die for. My friends and I shared a heaping plate of them with roasted mushrooms, creamy leeks and herb crème fraiche folded inside. Those hash browns could've been baked grubs for all I cared; they were, for lack of a more eloquent term, awesome. If you're not into mushrooms there are eight other options, including anything from plain browns to chicken chorizo.

Being a vegetarian (hear me out) I'm always curious to see what options restaurants will come up with and this particular menu did not disappoint. Now in my defense, I am not a fad vegetarian. I made the decision to stop eating meat when I was seven and it stuck. I was never a big meat eater as a kid and when I made the connection between Bessy the Cow staring at me with her enormous brown eyes and the juicy burger on my plate, I knew I couldn't do it anymore. I love Bessy more than I ever loved burgers.

In a state that prides itself on burgers and brats, I've dug my own grave and my diet hasn't always been an easy one. Typically being anywhere outside of Milwaukee or Madison means I'll be dining on grilled cheese because that is the only option available, but this was my decision, so I deal. Also in my defense, I am not a vegetarian that is going to refuse to eat food that's touched meat or been cooked on the same grill as meat, nor am I going to berate my fellow diners with questions about their dietary choices. Usually the situation plays out just the opposite, so I know how freaking obnoxious it is.

My meal consisted of creamy polenta, lacinato kale, roasted mushrooms, poached eggs and sauce fonduta. Apparently my eyes were much larger than my stomach on this particular Sunday because I also ordered the veggie sausage as a side. Not to disappoint the meat lovers out there, my friends had the chicken chorizo omelet and the frittata special with chicken chorizo. No complaints out of the two of them either.

With all the hash browns filling me up, I ate about half my meal and took the rest home. This never happens to me at brunch. I'm usually licking my plate and still debating an order of pancakes for dessert. There is just something about brunch.

Needless to say, if you get the chance to visit Blue's Egg, do it. Be prepared to wait; it's worth it. Enjoy the coffee while you do, definitely order some form or fashion of the hash browns, bring some friends and your appetite. You'll need both.

Alissa Lawton Special to

Alissa grew up on the near west side of Madison and had childhood dreams of being a veterinarian. Instead she moved to Milwaukee to attend college and attained a Bachelor's degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from UW-Milwaukee. Previously an advertising copywriter and a marketing specialist, Alissa always preferred the writing aspect of her career.

An animal lover, a shoe lover and a white wine lover, she now resides on the much beloved East Side of Milwaukee in what she describes as an ancient apartment building full of character, but lacking sufficient electrical outlets and the convenience of an elevator.

To some she comes across as a shy wall flower, to those that know her much better she is a social butterfly, usually overdressed and wearing inappropriately uncomfortable shoes for nearly every occasion. Either way you choose to see her, Alissa has a strong desire to bring awareness to the social issues in our city while maintaining a sense of humor about herself and surroundings.