As a fan of eating from the moment I wake up, I never understood why breakfast has a bad rap, skipped by many or replaced with a cup of coffee and a burnt toaster strudel topped with icing from a plastic tube. Such a shame, considering the wealth of gourmet options we have for beautiful winter mornings in New Orleans. My motto: When its 80 degrees outside, and the only chance of snow can be found on a beignet, why not have a few (dozen)?
Breakfast at Brennan’s will remind you which is the most important meal of the day. Their three-course prix fixe breakfast was just rated Southern Living Magazine’s Best Brunch in the South. They offer adventurous eye openers like the Bloody Bull – a Bloody Mary with beef bouillon and Worcestershire Sauce – for those who desire meat in their cocktails. Though after a dinner at Cochon the previous night, even my dad, the self-proclaimed king of the grill, opted for a freshly squeezed mimosa. Brennan’s has a lush courtyard but the lighting inside seemed a bit intense, the type I don’t care for at nine in the morning, unless I’m getting a facial. After adjusting my Ray-Bans, I devoured the Baked Apple in Double Cream – delicate, with an essence of cinnamon, cloaked in a velvety pool of heavenly cream – making up for all the bad breakfast cereals I was exposed to as a child. This dish was made for sinners like me, who prefer dessert before and after their meals.
For the main course, Eggs Nouvelle – poached eggs and juicy lump crab in a brandy-cream sauce – is lighter than entrées featuring the ubiquitous hollandaise, yet tasty enough to soak up every last drop with fresh French bread. With Brennan’s favorites Eggs Sardou and Eggs Hussarde at our table, the real surprise was Eggs Portuguese. Chef Lazone Randolph sautées chopped tomatoes, shallot and parsley, then lays the filling in pastry shells, covered in poached eggs and hollandaise sauce. The pastry shells arrived at our table, like me, amazingly flaky. Of course, the main reason to go to Brennan’s is for their famous Bananas Foster. Sit back, relax and watch your server create the world’s best dessert tableside with a little rum and a big flame. You may not have eyebrows when you leave, but you’ll definitely have a smile on your face.
If you’re tired of big-name coffee shops and their stale bagels, Il Posto in Uptown is the café for you. They offer H&H New York bagels that actually taste like bagels. Their scones, cupcakes, specialty breads and quiches are all homemade, baked each morning. If you’re a hazelnut fan like me, try the Nuttella Bruschetta – a creamy chocolaty spread, slathered on thick toast – and a Hazelnut Steamer, which, living up to its name, is steamy enough to make you scream “Stella!” Il Posto offers organic granola, yogurt, fruit salad and boiled eggs for those in need of a healthy morning snack as well as homemade Oreo cookies, scallion cream cheese bagels and an array of grilled cheeses (try the pallet-wowing gorgonzola, honey and walnut) for those content that it’s not yet swimsuit season. Madison Curry, the proprietor of this cozy café, is just as sweet as her baked goods, and never fails to offer up some friendly conversation with every cup of Irving Farm coffee she serves, or to leave you be with the paper and free Wi-Fi. Also a great lunch spot featuring panini, tramazini (cold sandwiches) and homemade soup, I suggest you go early, as Il Posto turns into a sardine can at midday.
When you have a craving for Huevos Rancheros, head to El Gato Negro in the French Quarter. Owner and Chef Juan Contreras and his family offer breakfast on Saturday and Sunday between 9 and 11 a.m., featuring breakfast burritos, tacos, omelets and refried beans plus the Macho Man Breakfast: three eggs, 3/4 lb. Black angus rib eye and chorizo. Try the pineapple-cilantro-lime margarita and thank me later. Outside seating overlooks the French Market. I went toward 11 a.m., and found they offered selections from their lunch menu, too. The fish burrito, featuring fresh tilapia, was the best I’ve had in a long time, but the filet mignon burrito is what will bring you back.