Brunch Ladies

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queens of the brunch scene Oreo and white chocolate chip pancakes with strawberries at Maureen’s Kitchen. (Photo by Katie Anello)
Oreo and white chocolate chip pancakes with strawberries at Maureen’s Kitchen. (Photo by Katie Anello)

Sugar and spice and nothing flipped twice, that’s what brunch is made of. Not your mother’s brunch, Rachel’s Waterside Grille, Maureen’s Kitchen and Pretty Toni’s Café are the queens of the brunch scene, serving up classic and unique fare for the hungry customer. Wake up with our editors’ picks.

Maureen’s Kitchen

108 Terry Rd., Smithtown; 631-360-9227

Maureen’s Kitchen features brunch at its finest, with creative takes on breakfast staples you won’t find anyplace else. Eggs get new life with the wide variety of omelette options, including the additions of pastrami, fresh scallions and Swiss; eggplant, asparagus, roasted peppers and mozzarella cheese; or kielbasa, tomato and muenster cheese.

If your taste buds direct you to the sweeter side of the menu, the French toast or pancakes won’t disappoint. Fill your soft, fluffy pancakes with chocolate chips, Oreo crumbles, blueberries or apple cinnamon, or opt for the pumpkin walnut pancakes that are perfect for fall.

The French toast is thick and flavorful, without being overpowering. Diners have the option of blueberry, raspberry or apple filling for the stuffed French toast. The croissant French toast can be filled with cream cheese and raspberry preserves or one of the daily specials.
Maureen’s diners know to come early or prepare to wait, as lines form quickly for this brunch hot spot. The rotating daily specials mean you can try something new every time you visit, which justifies regular trips to the quaint eatery.

Must have: While all of the pancake offerings at Maureen’s are delicious, diners rave about the pistachio pancakes. It’s an offering not found on many menus and when topped with real maple syrup, will quickly make you a Maureen’s regular.

queens of the brunch scene Rachel’s Lobster Hash and Eggs
Rachel’s Lobster Hash and Eggs

Rachel’s Waterside Grill

281 Woodcleft Ave., Freeport; 516-546-0050; rachelswatersidegrill.com

Sitting dockside on Freeport’s Nautical Mile, Rachel’s presents a maritime twist on traditional brunch items.

The new American eatery boasts a brunch menu divided into sections—The Eggery, Rachel’s Original Benedicts, Entrées, Sandwiches and Hamburgers and Salads. All brunch orders come with a basket of assorted baked goods, including a supremely flaky and buttery croissant, as well as moist pound cake and crumb cake. To quench your thirst for a heady cocktail, Rachel’s offers one free mimosa or Bloody Mary with $2.50 refills.

queens of the brunch scene Lubricate your brunch with a bloody Mary or three.
Lubricate your brunch with a bloody Mary or three.

When you’re sufficiently lubricated, it’s time to partake in Rachel’s exciting menu. Eye-catching items like Lobster Hash and Eggs and Seafood Crepes Florentine reel you in from The Eggery menu, while the Lobster and Baltimore benedicts both offer enticing additions to the traditional Eggs Benedict. And sweet lovers need look no further than the Cannoli Stuffed French Toast. If in a pasta mood, the Shrimp and Bowtie Alla Vodka is al dente and loaded with Carolina shrimp.

Meanwhile, the Baltimore Eggs Benedict sees perfectly poached eggs draped over Baltimore crab cakes with grilled tomato and a lemon thyme Hollandaise. The Lobster Benedict brings the clawed crustacean into the Benedict mix, with poached eggs and fresh lobster joining sautéed spinach and grilled tomato atop English muffins and Hollandaise.

Must have: Rachel’s Lobster Hash and Eggs features three fried eggs over lobster potato hash, topped with Hollandaise and served with sausage, bacon or ham. It’s as lovely to look at as it is to eat.

queens of the brunch scene Fried Whiting brunch platter at Pretty Toni’s Café
Fried Whiting brunch platter at Pretty Toni’s Café

Pretty Toni’s Café

759 W. Merrick Rd., Valley Stream; 516-285-8664; prettytoniscafe.com

This cafe has the right amount of charm and style and a soul-satisfying menu to back it up. And because its Sunday brunch was so wildly popular, Pretty Toni’s Café has recently expanded brunch service to include Fridays and Saturdays (noon to 3:34 p.m.).

The red velvet waffle and chicken hot plate (Belgian waffle drizzled with cream cheese icing and deep fried chicken) is probably one of the most popular items on Pretty Toni’s Café brunch menu, no doubt. If waffles are the way to your heart, you will want to stop by on Saturdays for the café’s Waffle Saturdays where you can choose from chocolate chip, sweet potato, strawberry, blue velvet, blueberry or banana waffles, topped with a half fried chicken or fried whiting.

Take part in all day happy hour, with your purchase of a brunch entrée. Pay homage to some of the greatest celebrities of the past with fun brunch cocktails named after Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye and Whitney Houston.

You’ll want to try a slice of carrot cake, sweet potato pie, peach cobbler or banana pudding. Call ahead for take-out or catering service.

Must have: While the waffles are a sure-win as the brunch choice, it’s the creamy grits topped with lobster and shrimp in a lobster butter sauce or the fried whiting fish served with eggs and grits that will make you a return diner.

Betsy Abraham, Steve Mosco and Christy Hinko

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