Serving up happiness one waffle at a time…
Brunch is a magical meal. It occupies a lovely gray area in which it’s equally valid to order waffles or a burger. Eggs are usually involved, hopefully in the form of French toast piled high with monumental towers of whipped cream and strawberries.
The concept of brunch has a mildly-contested history, with some claiming that British author Guy Beringer petitioned for a lighter, post-church Sunday meal in 1895. Or perhaps the vaunted combination that is breakfast + lunch began in New York with bagels and lox and gained traction with Hollywood stars eating late-morning meals. No matter how the tradition started, it’s basically enshrined in each state’s constitution that brunch must be served within a 10-mile radius of every city.
In some restaurants, brunch is reserved for Sundays or special occasions, while others flaunt it daily and year-round. No matter what day of the week you’re looking for a brunch treat, the Petoskey area can suit your needs. Here, there are delicious twists on old standards and dishes that will leave you eager to return for another monumental meal.
The Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau made a few long and luxurious stops to brunch restaurants to determine the gustatory landscape for our dear readers. What follows is a tantalizing glimpse into some legendary regional brunches, redolent with maple syrup and hints of bacon, with dishes sure to please even the pickiest eaters in your crew. So pull up a pancake and read a while!
One step into Bay Harbor’s Maple + Batter and you know you’re in for a treat. For one, the place smells like pancakes, which is always a good sign for a restaurant that boasts perpetual brunch. Two, the atmosphere is amazing: the gray and white marble floors and floor-to-ceiling windows give the place a clean, airy feeling.
Maple + Batter is about 95% breakfast, though they do have a few lunch items—chicken salad, grilled cheese, quesadilla, and a few others—to satisfy that one person in your group who doesn’t like brunch (although, why are you even friends with this person?). And they knock breakfast out of the park. Expect to encounter pancakes, waffles, French toast, a variety of omelets and benedicts, breakfast tacos, burritos, and the ubiquitous and beloved biscuits and sausage gravy. Make sure to ask about seasonal specials.
First, let’s talk pancakes. After all, the place is named for two necessary brunch ingredients. The waitress arrived with a monumental short stack of pumpkin pancakes (a fall seasonal item) for the table. They were enormous, soft, fluffy, and drizzled with a lovely sweet glaze. So yes, Maple + Batter knows how to do maple and batter.
The Florentine omelet was huge overstuffed with fresh veggies and tomatoes, and arrived with the largest pile of crispy hash browns that’s legal in the state of Michigan. Go for one of their themed omelets, or build your own from a generous list of ingredients.
The truffle avocado toast with pickled red onions, feta, poached eggs, and arugula is a great choice if you’d like something greener and lighter. The avocado mash melts into the sourdough. It tasted fresh and light, and makes a nice complement to enormous bites of pumpkin pancake.
Are escargot brunch food? They are at Boyne City’s Café Santé. The casual European-themed restaurant offers daily brunch until 3:00 p.m. in their classy, airy dining room on Lake Charlevoix. In the summer months, brunch-goers can enjoy the lakeside view from a protected patio, and sip a bloody mary or sparkling cosmo while waiting for the food to appear.
There’s an assortment of classic brunch fare at Café Santé: the ever-present eggs benedict; an Americano plate with house-cured bacon, eggs, bacon, and toast; and Irish oats. However, the croque madame is a real standout. Layer after layer of thinly-sliced ham and gruyere are lovingly sandwiched between two slices of brioche and drenched with béchamel sauce, then topped with an egg. It’s a towering brunch sculpture that could easily feed two people. For those inclined to a meaty brunch feast, take a look at the tender German pork chop, or the sausage plate with homemade patties and Plath’s smoked Polish sausage.
The best part of Café Santé brunch is that members of your crew who aren’t that into breakfast foods will have their choice of numerous lunch options after 11:00 a.m., such as wood-fired pizzas, steak and frites, and generously-portioned salads. If you’ve ever had a hankering to order tiramisu for brunch, you don’t have to hold back. Since brunch is served every day, you don’t have to wait until Sunday.
If you want classy lakeside dining with eclectic choices for a variety of tastes, Café Santé will not steer you wrong. And yes, we took a vote: escargot with morel butter and homemade ciabatta bread are undoubtedly brunch food.
Brunch should be robust. We’re talking huge plates of food and sauces that overflow the bounds of the plate (and reason): brunch spots that turn it up to 11.
In Harbor Springs, Small Batch at the Cupola offers exactly that kind of brunch. Imagine a plate of bananas foster French toast filled with cream cheese, smothered in whipped cream, drizzled with bourbon caramel sauce, and topped with fresh strawberries and a decadent scoop of gelato. It’s a plate of brunch big enough to feed three people. Or perhaps you’re into toasting the leftovers the next day?
Or picture benedicts garden: thick slices of ciabatta topped with rosemary ham, eggs, and a generous portion of Florentine sauce with a side of roasted whole purple and orange carrots and sliced zucchini. It’s the kind of dish that could turn you into one of Small Batch’s regulars.
Small Batch’s Sunday brunch is inventive and full of flavor. While the menu changes regularly, this fall PAVB encountered Dutch babies, omelettes, breakfast biscuit sandwiches, and a few lunch items like burgers and BLTs. But you can also try more out-there offerings: crispy chicken eggs benedict, breakfast sopes with beans and pork, or an egg-cheddar-bacon mashup on a grilled cinnamon roll. No matter what you get, it’ll be a reasonable price for a decadent portion.
The quirky, delightfully-decorated dining room is small and seating is first-come first-served, so arrive early for your brunch experience. And, don’t skip out on the boutiquerie next door: a small, homey boutique filled with homemade desserts and gift items. Snag the chocolate babka if you happen to see it.
Walking into the H.O Rose Dining Room for Stafford’s Perry Hotel’s Sunday brunch is like stepping back in time. Which makes sense considering the care that’s been taken to preserve this historic landmark that overlooks the Little Traverse Bay. When you see the sign explaining how Ernest Hemingway once lodged at Stafford’s Perry, you know you’ll be visiting someplace very special in the Petoskey area.
The H.O. Rose Dining Room can be described with one word: elegant. Both the booths that line the back wall and the tables afford a stunning view of the Little Traverse Bay. While the dining room feels fancy, it’s not stuffy or pretentious, so feel free to relax and contemplatively sip your coffee or tea as you gaze over one of the most picturesque scenes in northern Michigan.
The Dining Room offers an assortment of classic brunch foods: omelets, egg plates, quiche, lox and bagel, oatmeal, and tons of à la carte options. Refreshingly, they also serve half orders of some items. Yes, brunch is best served in heaping helpings, but what if you have a small appetite or a kid in tow? In that case, a half order of eggs benedict or an egg and cheese sandwich might fit the bill perfectly.
For something savory, try the vegetable skillet. It’s a perfect pile of crispy potatoes, black beans, quinoa, corn, and veggies served in a piping hot cast iron skillet. If you love runny eggs melting into your food, add a few poached or sunny side up to your potato mountain. The dish has a lovely smoky flavor that will warm up your insides on a cool fall morning.
For those fancying something sweeter, try something that Michigan is known for: cherries. H. O. Rose makes cherry bread French toast, a pile of luscious, cherry-studded, battery carbs topped with powdered sugar (more carbs), and maple syrup if you’d like (even more wonderful carbs), and your choice of bacon or sausage (delicious protein to round out the carbs). If you’re looking to make your brunch even more Michigan-themed, try a stack of the Vernor’s pancakes with chocolate chips or blueberries.
All the toppings, please
Whipped cream, eggs, maple syrup, potatoes, veggies, bacon, and all the fixings: the Petoskey area knows how to do brunch. Whether you’re looking for something sweet or savory, homey or over the top, there’s a brunch place waiting for your crew. Check out the list below—it’s got contact info for the places described above, as well as some other delicious options in the area.
Brunch 7 days a week
4165 Main St.
Brunch 7 days a week
1 Water St., Suite 100
Crêpes (sweet and savory), pastries, quiches, bread and more
Hours are seasonal, so be sure to check the website.
110 S. Lake St.
Breakfast (served all day) and lunch in a family-owned Boyne City establishment
113 Water St.
340 State St.
250 E Main St.
Breakfast is served all day, check the restaurant for hours
3890 Charlevoix Ave
100 Lewis St.
421 Howard St.
Breakfast is served all day.
906 Spring St.
Brunch is available on select days, check the restaurant for details
324 E Mitchell St.
887 Spring St.
About the Author: Jen DeMoss is a newcomer to the Petoskey area and loves northern Michigan. You can catch her paddling a canoe, hiking a trail, or swimming in Lake Michigan as often as the weather cooperates. She’d love to help you make the most of your time in this paradise she now calls home.