October is the fourth-annual Dining Month on OnMilwaukee.com. All month, we're stuffed with restaurant reviews, delicious features, chef profiles, unique articles on everything food, as well as the winners of our "Best of Dining 2010."
Brunch. Brrrrunch. Doesn't the sound of it make you all warm and fuzzy inside? Do images of spicy Bloody Marys and football games dance through your head? Or perhaps your mind wanders to mimosas sipped patio-side while you recount the past night's events? Whichever way you order up your Sunday brunch, it is most definitely with a side of awesome.
There's some postulation of when and where "brunch" was invented. It could've been in the late 1800s in England or in the early 1900s in New York. It may take a Bloody Mary war to get to the bottom of this, and appropriately so. Brunch is quite possibly one of the greatest inventions the world has ever seen. There should be a Nobel Prize in Brunchery.
Until the world sorts out just who invented the concept of brunching and where, we are lucky enough to have our very own brunch aficionado in our city. Milwaukee, please meet Christopher Graham, the founder of a blog ripped right out of my sweetest dreams, milwaukeebrunchreviews.com. I had the pleasure of meeting Christopher last week and was thrilled to find a person who loves the post-breakfast, pre-lunch meal even more than I do. I am smitten with his blog as his reviews are well written and intrepidly honest.
Here is my interview with Christopher Graham, the man, the mimosa, the Milwaukee brunching legend:
OnMilwaukee.com: When did your love affair with brunch begin?
Christopher Graham: My love affair with brunch started when I moved to Milwaukee in 2005. I had just graduated college in De Pere, and I was getting to know some new people around the city. Brunch was a big thing to do for them, and I followed right in tow. Pretty much it was love at first bite.
Why did I start my blog? Since I started brunching around the city, I knew my favorites or good places to go, but I was always so nervous about going out and trying something different that my usual coffee, mimosa, water and eggs Benedict. So, in looking online at a listing of brunches in the city, I picked one place at random and the brunch wasn't that great. At that meal, I decided that I wanted to help others try and learn more about other brunches in the city ... something more than "offers brunch" when listed on a Web site.
OMC: Have you brunched in lands outside our fair city? What's different?
CG: I have brunched outside of Milwaukee, and I am constantly asked by my family and friends to do brunch reviews in their cities: Minneapolis, Chicago, Green Bay and even Cleveland. What is different about Milwaukee's brunches is that everyone claims to have the best brunch in the city. Every restaurant takes this meal and puts their own spin on it. Rather than just a Benedict and Bloody Mary, Milwaukee restaurants usually take it up a notch. How, you may ask? The mix-ins of the Bloody Mary might be different. The Benedict may be completely made from scratch. The ambiance of the restaurant may be different. The variety of morning drinks offered. There is always something unique about brunching in Milwaukee.
OMC: Brunch buffets ... yay or nay?
CG: If you do a brunch buffet, the restaurant has to do it right. They have to offer foods that will keep well while in their warming tray. Most of the time, in my experience, it's been a miss, but there are some diamonds in the rough that have figured out how to do a buffet right.
OMC: What is one restaurant in Milwaukee you wish offered an all-you-can-eat brunch?
CG: I would want Comet Cafe to offer that type of brunch. Since it was named the best brunch in the city, I would want to go there and get as much of that great food as possible.
OMC: Do your friends rock, paper, scissor to determine who gets to brunch with you each weekend?
CG: Sometimes, yes! Most of the time, I need to figure out what I am doing for brunch first! There is always a list of people that want to go out to brunch with me for the experience. There are sometimes I wonder why people are so excited to go to brunch with me.
OMC: We know how you feel about brunch, but what are your thoughts on "linner?"
CG: Linner? I am usually napping at that point of the day. And then I wake up and have to write the review.
OMC: Your favorite celebrity is about to be executed, but because they're a celebrity they are granted one last brunch and they want to have it with you. Where in Milwaukee do you take them?
CG: God forbid anything like this would ever happen, but I would probably take them to either Envoy at the Ambassador Hotel or Cafe Centraal. Envoy for their all-you-can-eat small plate brunch. It is amazing. As many Benedicts as you want. As many steak and eggs as you want. It is like I died and went to brunch heaven every time I go there for brunch. My record is six plates. Love it.
Cafe Centraal for its steak and egg Benedict. My avatar on Twitter and Facebook is of this dish. I love steak and eggs, as much as I love eggs Benedict. When I found out that Cafe Centraal took these and made them into one entree, my mouth started to water. It is so good. Plus, I love their breakfast potatoes. Always a hit in my book.
OMC: Who can boast they mix the best Bloody Mary and mimosa?
CG: Well, I am not a huge fan of Bloody Marys, I must admit. I usually rely on my brunch buddy of the day to tell me what they think of their drink. But I can comment on who has the best mimosa: Water Street Brewery. The portion was large; the drink was sweet; and there was very little pulp.
OMC: Beermosa ... a do or a don't?
CG: When in Rome, do as the Romans. Beermosas are good, but they are never as good as the real thing. Every so often, if they are on the menu, I will check them out, but most of the time, I would rather just get the standard mimosa.
OMC: What is the best suburban brunch spot?
CG: This is a tough one for me. In my travels around the city, there are so many good places in the downtown area. I am trying to cover as many of those first. I have had several people on Twitter ask me to come out to various locations in the metro area. At this time though, I don't think I have a good enough grasp on what some suburbs have to offer.
OMC: What is the most unusual dish you've been served at brunch?
CG: I would have to say it would be the Steak Awesomeness from Ginger. This tenderloin filet sat in the middle of the plate with the "awesomeness" all around it. Laying on a bed of hash browns, the steak was topped with an egg that was poached in red wine. Red wine! The flavor alone in that made this entree to-die-for. Atop that, though is spooned some hollandaise sauce. Finally finished off with a haystack of onion strings. Served with two slices of homemade white bread, this entree still makes my mouth water. The combination of flavors was very unique and quite unexpected.
OMC: Do you cook often at home?
CG: No, I do not. I am baker. My boyfriend does most of the cooking around the house. I like to say: he likes to cook -- I like to eat.
OMC: What's up next for Milwaukee Brunch?
CG: I know that there are some signature brunches in the city that I need to review, and then it might be trips out to the suburbs to see what other area restaurants have to offer for brunch. I will leave it up to my Twitter followers and Facebook friends to tell me where to go around our great city to check out for brunch!
To say Sara is a woman of many hats would be like saying sour gummy worms are delicious: an epic understatement. Besides blogging, vlogging, tweeting and designing, she is a gal about town. Hopping, skipping and jumping all over this fair city to seek out the latest and greatest.
Since moving to Milwaukee right after high school, Sara's ADD has led her to reside in nearly every ZIP code Milwaukee has to offer. She recently moved from the Third Ward to Shorewood, and though the quieter scene isn't sucking, she vows to prove the burbs' swagger is right up there with the city's.
The Milwaukee area is one of many hats. And Sara's determined to try on each and every one of 'em.