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October/November 2009

Celebrating Sunday Morning
Atlanta's Top Brunch Spots
by Katie Kelly Bell

Park 75’s delectable and decadent pancake stack.PHOTO: Broderick Smylie

Whether you start your Sunday off with an eight-mile run or a cup of coffee and the newspaper, sitting down to a lavish breakfast can be a rich reward for enduring a long week. Atlanta has several spots sure to satisfy your Sunday brunch needs.

Murphy’s (404-872-0904, 997 Virginia Ave. NE, www., a Virginia- Highland institution, has been serving the brunch crowd for years. Locals return weekly for the attentive, warm service and a fabulous array of baked goodies to bring home. The vibe is a preppy casual with an inviting patio for perfect people-watching. You can feel virtuous if you start with a bowl of Murphy’s whole grain granola or steel-cut oatmeal with sundried fruits, brown sugar and nuts. Eggs Slum Mulligan (poached eggs, potato hash, bacon, cheddar cheese) might sound better, however, to those of us who ran five miles before brunch. Omelets, sandwiches, frittatas and, of course, freshbaked desserts round out the menu.

Rich, flavorful and rustic European fare is the hallmark of Babette’s Café (404-523-9121, 573 North Highland Ave., www.babettescafe. com). Tucked into a charming old house in the Virginia-Highland area, this Atlanta treasure has been quietly thrilling diners for years with classic, well-executed French fare. Chef/owner Marla Adams offers a tantalizing brunch—the French toast with Texas-sliced brioche, bananas and caramel sauce is beyond decadent. Others might prefer the fried oyster sandwich with cucumber sauce, served on a fresh baguette with shoestring potatoes. Chef Adams’s European talents truly shine in dishes such as the smoked salmon with herbs or goat cheese and arugula omelet.

  Pacci’s Bloody Mary cart provides the perfect kick to your meal.PHOTO: Broderick Smylie
If a heavenly, almost ethereal biscuit is what you hanker for, the Flying Biscuit Café (404-874-8887, 1001 Piedmont Ave. NE and 404-687-8888, 1655 McLendon Ave., www. serves the best in town. A legendary institution from Inman Park that has since grown into 10 locations in Atlanta, Flying Biscuit is a place for serious eating in a laid-back setting. Breakfast nirvana can be yours with the basic Flying Biscuit breakfast: two large farmfresh eggs, a slice of free-range chicken and sage breakfast sausage and, naturally, a biscuit. Branch out a bit and try the Meggxican Wrap, a spicy scramble of eggs, cheddar cheese, onions and serrano peppers wrapped in a flour tortilla, topped with oven-roasted tomato salsa. Of course, a plate of the organic oatmeal pancakes topped with warm peach compote and served with pure maple syrup may be hard to pass up. Good luck deciding.
Take the whole experience up a notch at Park 75 (404-253-3840, 75 14th St., www., a restaurant at the Four Seasons Hotel. Clubby and intimate, the dining room oozes a Zen-like sophistication (not to mention the occasional movie star). A recent reinvention of the bunch experience now focuses on local, southern specialties. Eggs Benedict is prepared three ways, based on locations in Georgia: the Madison with pulled pork piled onto a buttermilk biscuit topped with chow chow hollandaise; the Athens, with heirloom tomato, sprouts and avocado; and the Classic with maple Canadian bacon. Of course, Chef Gerstenecker still dishes up traditional treats such as a dazzling plate of pancakes that arrive piled high and finished with whipped cream and chocolate shavings. Note that brunch here is offered on Saturday and Sunday.

Livingston (404-897-5000, 659 Peachtree Street NE, is the glamorous restaurant located in The Georgian Terrace Hotel, one of Atlanta’s treasured historic landmarks. Chef Gary Mennie, formerly of Taurus and Canoe, brings a deft touch and years of experience to the kitchen. Livingston’s Bloody Mary, featuring Hangar One vodka, pickled vegetables and sea salt, should start your day off with a proper bang.

Two menu must-haves are buttermilk pecan pancakes with organic blueberry, lemon verbena and acacia honey and the biscuits and gravy with a decadent bourbon lamb sausage and minted Vidalia onion jam. Given the premium line-up of provender (Mennie has some great sources for ingredients), it might be most wise to assemble your own brunch experience. Try a few slices of Benton’s country ham (unforgettable) and some smoked sturgeon bacon with a side of Anson Mill’s organic grits. Add in a few ooey gooey good things such as a pain au chocolate, a scone or a granola parfait and you’ve got your meal. If you decide to dig deeper into the menu, be prepared to deliberate over choices such as Ashley farms chicken with local chanterelle mushrooms, shelled peas and parmesan, or a buttery Georgia mountain trout with braised artichokes, spring peas and roasted tomato.

For a more virtuous treat, try Livingston’s granola parfait.Photo: Heidi Geldhauser, Our Labor of Love
Put an Italian spin on brunch at Pacci (678-412-2400, 866 West Peachtree Street NW, www., located in Midtown’s sexy new Palomar Hotel. The atmosphere is swanky with plush touches (think deep curved velvet booths, dark woods, grand space), but the vibe is distinctly relaxed and casual. Decadent Italian specialties pop up all over the menu. You can assemble your own omelet from their A-list of ingredients (I’d suggest prosciutto, gorgonzola, roasted red peppers and a touch of sausage).

The selection of paninis, pastas and salads include gnocchi with brown butter, sage and toasted walnuts. Don’t miss the Eggs Abercrombie, a divine presentation of poached eggs, house-made crab cakes and hollandaise. The ricotta pancakes with caramelized banana syrup possess an additive quality, while the seasonal mushroom frittata blends the mushroom of the moment with goat cheese for a savory treat. Be sure to flag down Pacci’s Bloody Mary cart for a proper brunch libation.


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