It’s a favorite ritual for many, marked by the leisurely pace a weekend oftentimes affords and a desire to venture out and enjoy new and well-known eateries. The practice of enjoying brunch in lieu of a standalone breakfast or lunch stretches back nearly a century in America by many accounts. Restaurants with brunch menus have long provided a range of offerings on Saturdays and Sundays, and the following restaurants are no exception.
This Madison eatery, which opened in 2012, serves up brunch from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday alongside its regular menu. Megan Nolan, general manager of DLUX, says she and other staff aspire to provide a fun, festive environment. “I describe it as a bit of a tailgate or a frat party,” Megan says. “It’s a great pregame experience.”
A sampling of DLUX’s brunch menu includes fresh donut balls and a fruit salad as appetizers, multiple breakfast sandwiches, five iterations of breakfast potatoes, and other offerings Megan says have become crowd-pleasers over time. She singles out the fried chicken and waffle entrée, which melds together the two favorites with maple syrup, rosemary, and honey-compound butter. “It’s been on our menu for a while, and it’s staying there,” Megan says.
On the beverage front, one of DLUX’s most popular brunch offerings is the bottomless mimosa, which rounds out a lengthy list of concoctions. “We’ve been offering the bottomless mimosa for a number of years, and it brings in a good number of people,” Megan says.
Other drinks at DLUX include a blood- orange screwdriver, a handmade vodka Bloody Mary bar, and the espresso milkshake. Also on the drink menu is the Rosé Paloma, which brings together Mi Campo tequila, grapefruit juice, strawberry puree, Domain de Canton, and rosé.
The goal is to appeal to different customers’ palates and specific dietary needs. A range of vegetarian options, for example, are on the menu, including cauliflower grits and the breakfast potato offerings—one intermingling eggs, scallions, and a Mornay sauce. “It’s a nice, bold dish to have, and vegetarians love it,” Megan says.
Manna Café & Bakery
Manna Café is known around Madison for its robust bakery, but it also offers other noteworthy menu items. The list of the nearly 15-year-old establishment’s specialties are baked into a weekend brunch menu, which is served from 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
Mike Pratzel, who owns Manna Café & Bakery with wife Barb, says quiche is one of the restaurant’s signature dishes throughout the week, and the weekend brunch menu is no exception. Quiche options vary by the day, and on average, 18 varieties are served each week. “We’re known for making our quiche through a deep-dish method.” Mike says. “We also put a lot of care into our crust, which is a labor of love.”
Another of the Pratzels’ specialties over the years is the Collins House Oatmeal Pancakes, which marry two breakfast favorites: oatmeal and pancakes. “People come from all around for them,” Mike says. “They’re pretty unique.” Preparing the batter is a 45-minute process, and whole rolled oats are used to soak up the moisture from the eggs, butter, and buttermilk.
Bialy is another favorite. Bialy’s are baked and feature a middle pocket of onions and poppy seeds. Manna Café & Bakery serves bialys with several brunch menu options, including The Breakfast Maven entrée, which includes slices of Nova lox, cucumbers, onions, and capers.
Other brunch menu items include a number of traditional eggs benedict dishes as well as offerings sprinkling in other fare, such as the Navajo Veggie Benny, which incorporates grilled cornbread with refried beans, a bell pepper onion sauté, and chile hollandaise. Also on the menu are a range of other egg dishes—scrambles, omelets, and frittatas—and traditional lunchtime options, such as a classic tuna melt, BLT, and a soup and salad combination.
“I think we have a very interesting menu,” Mike says, pointing to the care he and Barb have put into their well-rounded list of options. “We work very hard to get to know our customers and offer them a great dining experience.”
While the list of Sardine brunch menu offerings is varied, co-owners Phillip Hurley and John Gadau say there’s a common thread between each item at the restaurant. “Sardine has a French-inspired focus. We offer a fun vibe, and we’re always packed on the weekends,” Phillip says. “It has a real sense of celebration.”
Phillip says Sardine, which opened in 2006, specializes in a number of brunch-related food options, served 9:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on weekends. One popular dish is baked cream eggs, which includes prosciutto, spinach, and gruyere cheese. Another is the brioche French toast, which brings together a local fruit compote, crème fraîche, lemon zest, and pure maple syrup into one dish.
Also on the brunch menu are small-plate offerings, such as housemade salmon torchon and charred farmer’s cheese; an array of salads, entrées, and sandwiches; and an ever-rotating list of pastries. Rounding the menu out are drink offerings, including the ocean punch cocktail, which brings together French-inspired ingredients with rhubarb, basil, lemon, and thyme.
While much of Sardine’s menu is inspired by cuisine originating from afar, the sourcing of ingredients is very close to home. “We really try to focus on our products coming from local sources,” Phillip says. “This includes meat, eggs, syrup, and honey.”
The time-honored tradition of enjoying brunch is as alive as ever. And these three restaurants showcase the range of diverse menus and specialties served up each weekend.
Dave Fidlin is a freelance writer who has a special affinity for Madison. Dave’s career spans nearly 20 years, and he’s grateful for the opportunity to learn something new each day through his professional pursuits.
117 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard
Madison, WI 53703
Manna Café & Bakery
611 N. Sherman Avenue
Madison, WI 53704
617 Williamson Street
Madison, WI 53703