It may come as a surprise that as a Cuisine & Culture reporter, I have never experienced the glory that is a mid-morning brunch. While you may scoff in shame – as the majority of my colleagues and editor did – I can promise you nothing amounts to the regret I myself feel now having finally had the first taste of the renowned breakfast/lunch combination.
This week, I sat in a shaded veranda across from my best friend and another girlfriend enjoying a mid-week brunch. I took my first bite of a French toast stack stuffed with raspberries, blueberries and sweet ricotta, topped with fresh fruit and a raspberry drizzle. To say it was heavenly would be an understatement.
A group of friends and I traveled to St. Augustine for spring break this year. We rented a huge beach house and spent the majority of the week on the beach in our new bikinis splashing in the still-cold water and soaking up the sun and mixed drinks. Once that finally got the better of us about halfway through the week, a couple of friends and I wanted to drive down to the waterfront downtown district of the city to get away. I decided to cave and discover what the fuss was all about with brunch after all and after a little research, I found perfect spot.
Right on the edge of the district sits the Casablanca Inn, a historic building hosting lodging upstairs and two restaurants downstairs – Tini-Martini Bar and Brunch. We stopped by the breakfast spot and requested a table for three outside in the perfect not-yet-too-hot Florida weather.
Our server immediately brought us menus and our drink orders. One glance and I was at a complete loss of what to order. Crepes, omelettes, eggs benedicts, wraps – they even had beignets! It was a game of Russian roulette with no losses. All I had to do was pick one.
I ended up choosing the above mentioned French toast. My roommate, Ciarra, also got a French toast stack with maple syrup and whipped butter and, for extra protein, added a side order scrambled eggs.
My friend Rebecca ordered the pear & brie omelet which included caramelized pears, brie, diced red onions, toasted pecans and arugula and came with a side order of home fries.
Personally, despite the heaven that was my French toast, I took a bite of Rebecca’s omelette and instantly regretted my choice. While I love a good sweet treat as much as the next girl, as my first meal of the day it wasn’t something I would advise, even with the balance of the coffee. It felt like more of a dessert. But hey – I was on vacation and this was brunch. There were no rules!
The ingredients in the pear and brie omelette provided perfect balance for each other however. The sweet pears mixed with the salty pecans, added with the flavor of the arugula, and just the right amount of brie to not overwhelm the total taste. If only I was as good of a cooker as I was an eater….
The entire meal was so laid back and easy. We were dressed up, as one does for brunch, but we got to just relax. We sat back and let the Florida sun sneak through the shade to our table. We talked about how beautiful the town was, tried to figure out what else we wanted to do on vacation, laughed at the memories we’d already made so far. Took many selfies, of course.
Afterwards, we paid the check and walked around downtown, shopping and looking at the beautiful view. If I ever make it back to St. Augustine – which I plan on – my first stop will be back here (hopefully old enough to sample their brunch drink menu). I’ll have to find another place to enjoy brunch in the meantime. Until then …
I’d say my first brunch was a success.