Brunch with a Flair

For some restaurants, brunch is a tour de force. Photography by Johnny Quirin

Brunch. The term originated as a way to describe any breakfast-lunch hybrid and has gone on to become a favorite focus of food columns and Instagram pictures nationwide, with no signs of slowing down.

For some restaurants, brunch is their tour de force, and lines outside the door on weekend mornings come as no surprise. With the spring Sunday holidays approaching, we’ve hand-picked a few places that are great choices for a celebratory meal, each with unique menu items.

The Winchester — Grand Rapids

The Winchester
The Winchester

Many in West Michigan make The Winchester their preferred brunch spot for its Bloody Mary bar, but it’s the food that sets it apart.

Located in the hip Wealthy Street Business District at 648 Wealthy St. SE, the gastropub’s creative spin on the mid-morning meal has led to a loyal following. Packs of eager diners often can be seen waiting for its doors to open.

“Brunch at The Winchester has become a much-loved tradition,” said Assistant Manager Maureen Di Virgilio. “But we get a great variety — regulars, people new to the area, post-church and mid-hangover.”

Cue the Build Your Own Bloody Mary bar, filled with topnotch mixes to meet your needs and a variety of carefully curated hot sauces and other accoutrements. In addition to the homemade mix (a guest favorite), the bar focus is on Midwest-made products, including McClure’s and Chicago-based Vintage Vine.

“Brunch at The Winchester has become a much-loved tradition. But we get a great variety — regulars, people new to the area, post-church and mid-hangover.”
— Maureen Di Virgilio

The Winchester’s menu changes every few months, making use of locally grown and other seasonal Michigan treasures. The pub’s New American dishes range from clever takes on traditional meals — its #basicbreakfast boasts fresh farm eggs, bacon, American fries and sourdough toast from nearby Nantucket Bakery — to Asian-fusion dishes like an egg sandwich made with homemade kimchi.

(616) 451-4969,;

The Southerner — Saugatuck

Chef Matthew Millar’s “love letter to Appalachia” is a must-try destination for those looking for good ol’ comfort food — with a dash of sophistication.

“We’re influenced by the roadside stands of the 1940s and 1950s, where you’d find that great, simple, honest cooking,” said Millar, who’s widely known in Midwest chef circles.

The Southerner
The Southerner

Before opening The Southerner at 880 Holland St. in June 2015, Millar honed his skills with stints in Grand Rapids with The Gilmore Collection and Reserve and his own endeavor, Journeyman, in Fennville.

Inspired by his matriarchal lineage that hails from Tennessee, Millar’s menu is built on southern classics with careful attention paid to quality ingredients.

Down south staples are aplenty on the small yet varied menu, including grits and greens, baked beans and the aptly named Nana’s Fried Chicken. Nana’s name is also attached to the melt-in-your-mouth cinnamon rolls that are worth every calorie.

No brunch is complete without a cocktail (or two), and the Saugatuck restaurant boasts an impressive bar program that includes a unique collection of bourbon and a variety of southern favorites including Mint Juleps and Sazeracs.

The ambiance is charming and relaxed. Paper menus and mismatched flatware add to the feeling that you’ve stopped by your own Nana’s dining room after church.

(269) 857-3555;

River Crab at Blue Water Inn — St. Clair

There are few things more relaxing than looking out on a body of water while enjoying a good meal, and that’s exactly what The River Crab at Blue Water Inn offers.

Located on the shores of the St. Clair River at 1337 River Road (M-29), the fine dining restaurant offers a traditional Sunday brunch buffet with unparalleled views.

Having a three- (or even four!) course meal to start your day is never a bad thing, and the restaurant offers a wide range of options for guests. Sometimes you don’t want to choose between a Belgian waffle and a made-to-order omelet, and here, you don’t have to.

You can also delight in the fresh seafood options, which include mussels, salmon lox, peppered mackerel and a chef’s selection that changes weekly.

Special brunch dishes are often added to the menu for special holidays and — perhaps most importantly — there are a variety of desserts. Who said you can’t have dessert for breakfast?

(810) 329-2261;,

Alexandra Fluegel is a freelance writer living in Detroit.

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