Why is brunch still a thing? Maybe it’s because it’s the perfect excuse to indulge in breakfast food and mimosas before noon, or it’s a great way to catch up with friends without committing to a full day but still enjoy a leisurely paced meal.
Some trace the origins of brunch to Roman Catholics treating themselves to a midday feast after they fasted before Sunday Mass. Many others point the finger at the English author Guy Beringer, who wrote in an 1895 essay that a combined Sunday meal would be a relief for people nursing hangovers after partying too hard on Saturday night.
While diners love it, though, chefs seem to have mixed feelings. Sure, they’re happy to make a killer eggs Benedict, but it can put a damper on their weekend mornings when they wake up even earlier to cater to the brunch crowd.
Also, making brunch can be a bit of a nightmare. Can you imagine cooking eggs Benedict for a table of 12? Me neither.
The late chef and TV host Anthony Bourdain, in a 2017 web interview for “The Tonight Show,” called brunch “a horrible, cynical way of unloading leftovers and charging three times as much as you ordinarily charge for breakfast.” He also said it was “the least-popular shift for cooks.”
I talked to chefs at six Utah restaurants about what they like and don’t like about brunch. Think about their words the next time you go out for brunch, and thank your chef for enduring the chaos.
1017 S. Main, Salt Lake City; (801) 355-7952; slceatery.com.
Chefs Paul Chamberlain and Logan Crew are the culinary masterminds behind this creative eatery. They began offering brunch in 2021, understanding that people like to get together over breakfast and enjoy mimosas.
“I used to love going to brunch, but working it is a little more arduous,” Chamberlain said. “For our restaurant, where we are trying to give a level of food quality and plating still, but when you are doing twice the volume than dinner, it is difficult to keep up. Also, people think that brunch should be quick, so it became a dance we had to learn. We are trying to offer a few more flavors than your typical eggs-and-bacon scenario.”
Chamberlain and Crew constantly change the menu to keep things interesting (as they do with the dinner menu), and patrons who go there to eat brunch know they can try something new. Many of the dishes are foods the chefs like to eat when they get together with others, such as the huevos rancheros.
368 E. 100 South, Salt Lake City; (801) 359-0426; oquirrhslc.com.
Co-owner and chef Andrew Fuller opened Oquirrh restaurant with his wife Angie in 2019. The ever-evolving menu, curated by Andrew utilizing seasonal ingredients, incorporated brunch several months after opening.
Patrons of the restaurant seem to adore the brunch offerings, but from a business perspective, Andrew says it can be challenging.
“Essentially, brunch is the same or even more work than dinner service, and is harder to execute in a few different regards,” Fuller said. “People want their food faster, and if we have many tickets open simultaneously, it is more difficult than getting dinner entrées out. It is a different approach; people need ketchup, hot sauce, coffee refilled constantly, etc.”
Fuller incorporates classic sweet and savory dishes into the menu, to bring in guests looking for eggs prepared in various ways or French toast. And for others who are looking to try something new, Andrew is thrilled to finally execute his soft-shell crab Benedict, an idea he had many years ago.
111 E. 300 South, Salt Lake City; (801)355-0543; coppercommon.com.
Chef Sarah Corson wanted to try her hand at creating some of her favorite brunch dishes, so Copper Common launched Sunday Brunch in April.
Corson has created a menu that combines classics and comfort food, with a dash of Southern charm. The menu will often change, as she plans to develop new and unique dishes that others are not doing. Try the shakshuka with poached eggs, tahini yogurt and sourdough toast points — it’s hearty and savory. (Pro-tip: Add the lamb sausage for an added flavor boost.)
“A big part of the reason we [chefs] don’t like serving brunch is waking up early, but I am a morning person, so for me, it has never been an issue,” Corson said. “Also, the transition from brunch to dinner can be a bit of a mess, but I love creating brunch food, so I enjoy it. Most of the menu is stuff that I like eating, things that I have had versions of in the past. I am not from the South, but it is a cuisine that I really love.”
Marmalade Brunch House
535 N. 300 West, Salt Lake City; (801) 513-5777; marmaladebrunchhouse.com.
Kait and Frank Paulraj, the dynamic duo behind London Belle, had wanted to open a new restaurant concept for some time. When the space that used to be Diversion Eatery — a prime location with ample parking — became available, they knew they had to make their brunch dreams a reality.
At Marmalade Brunch House, brunch is served seven days a week, 7 a.m.-3 p.m., and it is quickly becoming the go-to spot for weekend warriors and weekday brunch lovers alike. The restaurant isn’t taking reservations now, as the owners want the diners to sit awhile, relax and enjoy the space and the food. They’re discussing plans for a dinner menu; after all, who doesn’t like brunch for dinner?
Chefs Chris and Nelson Madrill, brothers and formerly of La Caille, are at the helm creating brunch dishes they feel the patrons will love. One of which is the croque madame.
“Croque madame is a super-creative dish that you can’t find in many places,” Chris Madrill said. “The béchamel is one of the mother sauces, so you can twist it and make it your way. Although we do a breakfast béchamel here, I like all the flavors in this dish.”
Mar | Muntanya
170 S. West Temple, Salt Lake City (in the Hyatt Regency, sixth floor); (385) 433-6700; mar-muntanya.com.
Chef Tyson Peterson wanted to include brunch from the beginning, and after being open for several months, he was able to launch the brunch menu, offering brunch five days a week to start.
Right now, Mar | Martanya is offering a dinner and lunch menu, and only serving brunch on Saturdays and Sundays, 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
“Brunch is fun. I do like going out for it more than I like cooking it,” Peterson said. “My intention is to go back to one menu, but I am testing the lunch and brunch menus to see what sells well, and then I will combine them. Having three menus is difficult. But brunch allows me to be a little lighter and cheeky and have more fun with the Utah traditions.”
The restaurant serves from-scratch scones, biscuits and sourdough breads, and oysters are a staple on all the menus. Diners enjoy these tasty morsels on the half shell while taking in the scenic views of downtown Salt Lake City. Try the churro French toast, a fun dish with a nod to Spanish cuisine.
The Foundry Grill
8841 N. Alpine Loop Road, Sundance (at the Sundance Mountain Resort); (801) 225-4107; sundanceresort.com/dining/foundry-grill.
Chef Stephanie Auerbach is a recent transplant to Utah, having moved here from Connecticut, where she and her spouse owned a bakery.
Brunch — all you can eat — is served every Sunday at The Foundry Grill, with weekly specials, two fresh carving stations and made-to-order omelets. Tables of fresh fruit, green and pasta salads are also welcoming additions.
“The staff and I come up with a new brunch menu every week, it is an ever changing thing,” Auerbach said. “We try to keep it interesting, so every brunch is a little different. We pull from different cultures; for example, sometimes we do Asian- or Hispanic-inspired things. I love brunch.”
Every week there is a different type of Benedict, egg scramble and French toast. Enjoy the food, the views and the history that Sundance has to offer.