Stroll through Plaza Midwood, NoDa, or the Met on any Sunday afternoon, and you’ll see lines at restaurants out the door. Clearly, Charlotte is a city that brunches. But did you know that within this culinary subculture of breakfast meets lunch meets mimosas and Bloody Marys is a secret society all to itself? A wink to your server along with a password can unlock dishes that the laymen at the table next to you don’t know about. They’re not listed on the menus.
We did a little digging and below are some secret brunch items that only those in the know can order. Consider yourself initiated.
3116 N. Davidson St.
Crepes and brunch go hand-in-hand, which is why the Crepe Cellar is one of the most popular spots in town for brunch. Go all in crepe-style with a savory buckwheat crepe like the Spinach and Wild Mushroom Crepe with caramelized shallots, gruyere, and a sherry vinegar aioli for your main and a Banana Fosters Crepe for dessert. The Crepe Cellar also offers non-crepe items like Eggs Benedict and French Toast.
Secret menu item: The Dirty Suzy. Take the Crepe Suzette – which comes with a Grand Marnier butter sauce – and add Nutella for a little more of a taste of heaven.
How did it come to fruition? “The first I heard about someone asking for the Dirty Suzy was from one of our close friends a couple years into business (about 6-7 years ago!). But it likely started even before then,” says Jeff Tonidandel, owner of Crepe Cellar.
How does a customer know to ask about the dish? “More and more people started asking for it in the neighborhood – and our staff named it the Dirty Suzy. It caught on, and now we have a button for it on the computer for wait staff because it’s become so popular. We don’t add it to the menu because it’s kind of a fun thing to offer to our regulars who know about it,” says Tonidandel.
As if you didn’t need more reasons to visit Brixx Wood Fired Pizza, the pizza kitchen now offers a brunch menu filled with breakfast-style pizzas. No, this isn’t the cold pizza leftovers you ate off your frat house coffee table while catching a football game in college. Think gastronomical works of pizza art like an Italian Sausage Omelet pizza complete with sautéed peppers and onions, mozzarella, and cheddar cheese and a Huevos Rancheros Pizza with all the fixings that make everyone’s favorite hangover dish, but on a pizza.
Secret menu item: Salmon BLT with wood roasted salmon on housemade focaccia with bacon, arugula, tomato, and basil pesto mayo, served open faced.
How did it come to fruition? “Guests have been asking, ‘Are you adding to the Brunch Menu?’ Some have asked about salmon sandwiches in the past. So, this became our take on salmon for breakfast. We’re testing it out when guests ask and considering whether to add it to the menu permanently,” says Tim Miner, marketing dude at Brixx.
How does a customer know to ask about the dish? “We have lots of regulars at Brixx. Our servers learn a lot about what they like and what they don’t. So, based on their tastes, our servers make a recommendation. From there, other tables see it and inquire about the dish. We haven’t done it for this item, but we sometimes ‘sneak’ them into one-day events or social media. That’s largely how brunch started in the first place,” says Miner.
10000 Ballantyne Commons Pkwy.
No, brunch isn’t limited to the hippest of Center City neighborhoods. Restaurants in the ‘burbs – like Gallery Restaurant at the Ballantyne Hotel – also serve up killer brunch menus. Think Belgian Honey Waffles with candied lavender, kumquat, and white chocolate, or Baucom’s Grass Fed Burger with an arugula and red onion slaw, applewood bacon, dijonnaise, OMB gruyere, and a sunny side up hen egg atop a pretzel brioche roll. Plus, you have views over the golf course!
Secret menu item: Chef Garrett Merck’s twist on huevos rancheros. The base of the dish is their house-roasted tomato sauce with a splash of coffee reduction and bourbon that is then stacked with a barbecue tortilla and loaded with eggs your way, guacamole, pico de gallo, and spring onions.
How did it come to fruition? “This dish debuted as an entrée when Gallery unveiled brunch in 2013,” says Merck.
How does a customer know to ask about the dish? “It’s one of my favorite dishes, so it’s always available. We encourage guests to ask servers for special requests, and we will do our best to accommodate,” says Merck.
3120 N. Davidson St.
Operating out of a window on the side of Growlers Pourhouse – like a speakeasy of confectionary underground indulgence – is Reigning Doughnuts. While their cake-based doughnuts like vanilla icing and honey glaze are available all day, every day, they seem to taste best at brunch.
Secret menu item: Truffle Honey Doughnut
How did it come to fruition? “The truffle-honey doughnut came about because our customers are always wanting new, fun flavors to try,” says Jamie Brown, marketing director at Reigning Doughnuts. “We’re in a tiny old storage closet with just 80 sq. ft. of room, so we don’t have a lot of space. We order truffles over the holidays as a family to cook with, so we tried making some truffle honey and loved it. This happens to be something we can manageably do with the space limitations, and it lets us offer something higher end and super unique.”
How does a customer know to ask about the dish? “We leak secret menu items like our Truffle Honey Doughnut and our vanilla icing with cinnamon doughnut via social media. You’ll just have to follow us!” says Brown.
100 W. Trade St.
Chef Chris Coleman and his team at Stoke get brunch. That’s why with their latest seasonal menu release, they made brunch items like Tim’s Stuffed French Toast with ricotta and fresh berries and Avocado Toast with stracciatella, sea salt, and Georgia olive oil available all day, every day. Yes, you can now enjoy brunch seven days a week from 6:30 a.m.–4 p.m.
Secret menu item: Two dishes: Chilaquiles and Stoke Eggs Benedict. Chilaquiles are a traditional Mexican breakfast item. A base of mashed pinto beans is topped with salsa fresca, avocado, fried egg, and cojita cheese, served with a side of tortilla chips. Stoke Eggs Benedict is served open-face with two poached cage-free eggs, shaved country ham, and hollandaise sauce.
How did it come to fruition? “The Stoke Eggs Benedict was one of the menu favorites that’s no longer on the menu, but it’s sometimes offered as a special for holidays, etc. and as a special request,” says Chef Coleman.”For the Chilaquiles, Stoke’s new lead cook is Mexican, and it’s one of his favorite things to eat. He made some for the rest of the kitchen staff one day, and we all raved over them.”
How does a customer know to ask about the dish? These are word-of-mouth items. So, now you know.