Brunch. That perfect lazy combination of breakfast and lunch. Decadent breakfast foods with a lunchtime sensibility served up with steaming coffee, a delicious assortment of carefully crafted cocktails, and a greatly reduced amount of food related guilt. I mean come on, it’s the weekend. And I’m sure that huge buttery meal I just had with 4 cups of coffee and two cocktails is totally a better choice than two separate meals. Just imagine what I could have eaten if I had both breakfast and lunch?
It’s without a doubt my favorite meal. I look forward to it all week – sometimes I can’t wait for the weekend and I sneak one in mid-week just to get a hollandaise fix.
But real brunch here in Portland is reserved for the weekend. For when you have the time to say Fuck it, I don’t have to do anything else today! Because you ate rich decadent food that makes you want to sit around and binge watch cooking shows, you went ahead and had the second Bloody Mary and now it’s nap time, or because you decided today was the day to go to that extra special brunch place and you know after you stand in line for half the day you’ll be out of time to do anything else. Yes, sometimes the brunch lines really are that long. And sometimes it’s worth it. But you need to know what you’re in for.
The 5 Stages of Brunch Line Grief
1 – Denial
You and your partner stroll up to the crowded restaurant hand in hand. You see the crowd waiting out front and the folks seated in the entry but you push through the crowd all smiles. You tell the hostess there’s two of you and when she says “The wait will be about 90 minutes” you say “cool” and she jots down your name with a sloppy number 2 beside it. Sure she said it would be 90 minutes. But there’s just two of you and you said you’d be fine sitting anywhere. That opens up the patio and bar as options. Knowing you’ll probably be seated in 30 minutes you order Bloody Marys and coffee to take out into the warm Portland sun while you wait to hear your name.
2 – Anger
As you stand out in the sun watching people come and go you start to notice things about your fellow would-be-patrons. Why are all of them wearing the color purple? Did you miss a memo? Are we required to wear 5″ heels or work-out clothes to brunch now? And what’s with all the pleather? It’s February for fuck sakes, why is the sun so bright? It’s in my eyes. Why is it in my eyes? And why does that guy keep using his toddler’s jacket hood like a leash? What an asshole! And why are people hogging the benches. There’s room for like 20 people on those benches and it’s being taken up by 8 folks who are just spreading out all over and setting their shit down. Those benches are meant for butts! And then you notice that someone who showed up after you is being seated. OH NO THEY DIDN’T!
3 – Bargaining
It’s been 45 minutes. That’s half the wait time. It would be silly to leave now because they’ll probably seat you at any moment. You want to go in and check with the hostess because you’re pretty sure that someone swiped your table or that she accidentally skipped over your name but you don’t want to be that person. You don’t want to be high-maintenance. If you’re just patient good things will happen. Any minute now. Any minute. “Do you want to leave?” you ask, almost as a requirement. “I mean, we’ve already waited this long…”
4 – Depression
The sun is bright and you wish you could enjoy it but your hands are cold and it feels like that will never change. You hate yourself for wearing the cute jacket with no pockets and you’ve been hauling around these empty pint glasses and coffee mugs for an hour. You just can’t do it any longer but there’s no bus tray and no one has come to take them so you just keep holding them because setting them at your feet is causing you too much anxiety. You don’t want to be that asshole who broke a bunch of glasses. As a family of six that was hogging the bench is called inside you give up standing and scuttle over to the bench before someone else snatches it up. With your sad collection of empty cups you perch on the bench leaning on your partner for support. You no longer have the strength to carry on a conversation. You know you’ve been forgotten. That quaint grumbling in your belly has given way to full on nausea.
5 – Acceptance
It’s been 2 hours. You’re in it for the long haul. You’re hungry. You’re weak. You know now that the Bloody Mary and 3 cups of coffee were a mistake but the crowd is thinning. They’ll call your name soon. And hey, if they don’t you can always stop at a drive through on your way home. Damn a cheeseburger sounds good right now.
Yes. Two hours. We waited for two hours to have brunch on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Hearing the hostess call my name was like the gentle tinkling of a chime. “Cami! Cami?” We pulled ourselves from the bench. I can’t speak for him but my ass was asleep, my stomach ached, and I was in some weird trance-like state. We hauled our empty pint glasses and coffee mugs into the bustling restaurant. Where it was warm. And bathed in a yellow light. And there was a soft seat. And an actual table. And clean coffee mugs into which a waiter poured fresh coffee. He, amazing man that he was, took away our dirty mugs and glasses. Brought us fresh lovely cocktails. As we sat with our cocktails after our orders had been taken (while I was away waiting in line for the bathroom) we chatted about the fact that it just isn’t worth it. This long line standing out in the elements. Waiting. For food. When really you can get amazing food all over the city. And we totally have other brunch places we really like.
And then it happened. The waiter brought my brunch plate. A bowl of grits with shrimp and some amazing bacon sauce thing. With green onions sliced on an angle sprinkled on top. And two poached eggs on the side.
And I took a bite. And my heart melted. And I know we’ll do it all again because, damn I love shrimp and grits.
updated: In case you wondered, Portlandia is a documentary.