I didn't know what my weekends were lacking until I moved to Richmond. Sure I'd heard of it and participated in it before, but brunch is a serious meal here, and many restaurants offer it on Saturday and Sunday. This past weekend I indulged in brunch twice, at two very different places. Neither of the two eateries were my fallback brunch spot, which is the Galaxy Diner in Carytown. The diner is close to my apartment, and consistently serves both breakfast and lunch food: omelets, hashbrowns, biscuits, black hole pancakes (they have oreos in the center), breakfast sandwiches, burgers, chicken fingers, mozzarella sticks, macaroni and cheese, etc. The diner comes through when you want french toast at 9 p.m., but having to choose between two types of cuisine at one time of the day makes brunch that much more special.
I've only been to Joe's Inn twice, but I understood it's allure immediately. It's cozy and slightly old-fashioned, and the portions are huge. I composed my own omelet (ham, spinach and provolone) when I tried Joe's Inn the first time, and it was memorable enough to go back. "The Big Breakfast," which I opted for on Saturday, includes pancakes or french toast, two eggs any way, homefries and ham, bacon, or sausage. It's only $6.50, and is the perfect combination of sweet and savory breakfast foods. I had three huge pancakes, scrambled eggs, and ham (served on two plates), and I didn't need to eat for the rest of the day. The homefries at Joe's Inn, which I dream about from time to time, are made with red potatoes and onions, and are almost as good as the ones my dad makes. Three thin slices of grilled ham complemented my eggs, and the pancakes weren't completely made from scratch (I could taste Bisquick), but they did the trick.
Sunday I walked to another (very different) popular Fan brunch spot. 3 Monkeys, which is also a bar that serves food until 1 a.m., is always crowded on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. I can't say I've had great service at 3 Monkeys, but there are notable breakfast pizzas and outdoor dining on a covered porch. One of the best brunches I've had there was a spinach, feta and roasted red pepper omelet with homefries (theirs are cubed potatoes fried with a reddish orange seasoning) and toast. The breakfast pizzas are big enough for two people and are also satisfying, with eggs and other toppings on a crust that's not too thick or too thin.
Maybe it was because of "The Big Breakfast" the day before, but my most recent experience at 3 Monkeys wasn't what I remembered. My friends both chose lunch food - a chicken pesto sandwich and a beef tenderloin wrap with fries. I selected an omelet I haven't had, with country ham, brie, and asparagus for $8. I love ham for breakfast, but there was an overpowering amount compared to the cheese, eggs and asparagus in my omelet. The brie was also a little too strong with the ham and asparagus, and I think there were only 5 or 6 small pieces of the vegetable. I could tell that the ingredients themselves were fresh, yet they weren't put together in a way that brought out their positive qualities. I'll probably go back to 3 Monkeys at some point, but for $1.50 less, brunch at Joe's Inn is looking better and better.