Brunch. In France it is le grand petit déjeuner, or "the big little lunch," in Germany, it is, Gabelfrühstück, or "fork breakfast," but in Charleston, it is just one more reason to partake in the bounty of amazing cuisine that our city provides.
From upscale dining at Palmetto Cafe to casual eats at Lost Dog Cafe or Three Little Birds Cafe, there is something for every taste and budget when it comes to brunch. Tucked between breakfast and lunch, this meal gives one the perfect opportunity to have lazy Saturdays and Sundays in bed before rousing and heading out for a delectable treat.
For impressive dining worthy of an in-laws visit, one should go no further than Palmetto Cafe in the luxurious Charleston Place Hotel. Casual but elegant, brunch is served in a room overlooking a lush courtyard with gorgeous plantings and a magnificent bronze fountain. The taste lives up to the surroundings. Brunch is all you can eat buffet style and the omelet station should not be missed. If you want to have an equally impressive brunch outside of the downtown area, head to Kiawah and try The Jasmine Porch at The Sanctuary. Overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, this dining room is incredibly beautiful and the brunch is fabulous.
Be prepared to open your wallets at either of these high-end options, but also be prepared to leave satisfied.
If you are looking for food on John's Island, you must try Fred Neuville's Fat Hen. Though much more casual than our first two brunch contenders, the food at Fat Hen lives up to almost anything in Charleston. With a menu that can only be described as decadent, brunch here offers Creme Brulee French Toast served with Grand Marnier and strawberries, Short Rib Gratin, the Fat Hen Burrito, and a Fried Egg Sandwich served on house made potato caraway bread.
Committed to serving local ingredients whenever possible, brunch at Fat Hen is fresh and delicious. Chef/owner Neuville has been doing brunch at Fat Hen for almost two years and it continues to be one of the restaurant's most popular meals.
"Brunch is a very quick and fast paced service period," he says. "We do 350-550 people for Sunday brunch out here so we have to keep things moving in the kitchen. We want people to leave full and happy." They recently began a Saturday brunch as well. Nueville's new venture, Wild Olive, is also serving brunch and offers Italian specialties like crab and egg strata, crustless quiche, and porco grasso, an egg dish with sausage, peppers, mozzarella and basil served al forno with fresh fruit.
Crossing over the Arthur Ravenel Bridge into Mount Pleasant, one stop that must not be missed on the brunch tour is Charleston's Cafe. Described by Bon Appétit as "The South's Great Neighborhood Restaurant," Charleston's Cafe is best known for their Island Potato Casseroles. Large bowls of breakfast treats are each named for a Lowcountry Island. These casseroles are beds of chippers potatoes, onions, peppers & mushrooms, topped with eggs, served with a biscuit. The Edisto, served with shrimp and kielbasa and topped with a spicy tomato cream sauce, is a favorite of the locals. There are also many healthy options in the menu's "Bridge Run" section for those customers who may not want the belly busting casserole.
Mount Pleasant is also home to the Maverick Southern Kitchen restaurant Old Village Post House. Laura Bright, director of marketing for Maverick, says that brunch is an important service for their restaurants.
"It gives us an opportunity to showcase an interesting combination of things we do and it gives customers a chance to see us in a different light. They can come to us for a wonderful dinner meal or a little more casual and relaxed setting for a brunch. We have been very successful with brunch service at all of our restaurants," she said.
High Cotton also belongs to the Maverick Southern Kitchens family and is well known for their brunch service. High Cotton prides itself on serving high-end Southern Cuisine. On the brunch menu are Buttermilk Fried Oysters with Arugula and Green Goddess dressing, BBQ Duck Hash, and Carolina Shrimp & Grits with tasso ham, grits and garlic tomato scallion butter.
The hands-down locals' favorite in West Ashley is the ever-popular Glass Onion. The menu changes as the local food changes, but they do have consistent favorites. Sarah O'Kelley, co-owner, says that their take on "Bacon and Eggs" is always popular.
"We feature our crispy braised pork belly with grits and two eggs. The grits are from Anson Mills, and the eggs are from Celeste. This is an idea we had months before we even opened so it was very exciting to see it take life, and it should always be a staple. Also, I think this dish shows how the brunch menu is our chance to play around even a little bit more - doing our take on classics," she said.
Another great option in West Ashley is Triangle Char & Bar. Triangle has amazing food, but the main draw here is the bottomless mimosas for $10. You will not be lacking in food, however, as the menu features great items such as a Chipotle Pork Sandwich, Crab Cake eggs benedict, and Chicken livers with sweet corn and Tasso ham gravy over local grits. The prices are reasonable and the service is fantastic.
For those days that you just can't manage to get out of your shorts and flip-flops on a Sunday morning, there are plenty of casual dining options. A new Brunch menu has recently been added at Blind Tiger on Broad Street in downtown Charleston. Chef Atom Miller began this service three months ago and has been tremendously successful.
Miller says, "For the first time in seven years there is brunch on Broad. The local favorites are the Steak Ranchero, Crab Flautas or the Baguette-style French toast with currant butter and vanilla molasses syrup. Brunch is back for good in broad daylight." The courtyard at Blind Tiger is a perfect setting for a low-key weekend meal.
Another casual option in town is Three Little Birds Cafe and Catering in West Ashley. Known for fresh ingredients, healthy dishes, and plenty of vegetarian options, Three Little Birds serves a delicious Veggie Omelet, a White Bean Rosemary Soup, and Mixed Berry Pancakes when the ingredients are in season.
Hominy Grill is always a consistent location for a casual but tasty brunch. In downtown Charleston, the charming dining room is welcoming and the food is scrumptious. Chef Robert Stehling serves approximately 500 people in the six- hour service and aims to leave every customer satisfied. He says that brunch is a crazy service for the kitchen, but almost as fun for the staff as it is for the client.
Here are a few restaurants in the Charleston area that offer brunch. Given that our culinary scene is so rich, it's nearly impossible to list them all. Go to postandcourier.com/preview and tell us about any other notable destinations for brunch in the Lowcountry.
82 Queen St., Charleston
AC's Bar & Grill
467 King St., Charleston
5 Faber St., Charleston
38 Broad St., Charleston
1039 Johnnie Dodds Blvd., Mount Pleasant
3140 Maybank Highway, Johns Island
Fleet Landing Restaurant
186 Concord St., Charleston
1219 Savannah Highway, St. Andrews
Golden Cup Cafe
John's Island Shopping Center
3575 Maybank Highway, Charleston
199 E Bay St., Charleston
Holiday Inn Charleston-Mills House Hotel
115 Meeting St., Charleston
207 Rutledge Ave., Charleston
129 Meeting St., Charleston
Lost Dog Cafe
106 W. Huron Ave.
205 Meeting St., Charleston
Ocean Room at The Sanctuary
1 Sanctuary Beach Drive, Kiawah Island
Old Village Post House
101 Pitt St., Mount Pleasant
72 Queen St
Charleston, SC 29401
Three Little Birds Cafe
65 Windermere Blvd., Charleston
Triangle Char and Bar
828 Savannah Highway, Charleston
Virginia's on King
412 King St., Charleston
2867 Maybank Highway, Johns Island