What really is brunch? The typical understanding is that of br(eakfast) + l(unch), otherwise known as the best of both worlds. One put it as, “it’s not quite breakfast, it’s not quite lunch… [and] you don’t get completely what you would at breakfast, but you get a good meal.” These thoughts pretty much sum up the best meal of the week that is brunch and the only viable reason to get out of bed on a weekend. Of course, anywhere else in the world, this meal that combines sweet and savoury and totally messes up the eating schedule is always welcomed with arms open wide. Since it’s a weekend affair, it goes a long way in helping you cope with the decisions made during the shenanigans of the night before. Now, being in Spain, we could conclude that the brunch days are over. Interestingly, however, Madrid has taken a liking to this weekend favourite. Every restaurant that IS the restaurant or wants to be THE restaurant has some type of brunch menu on offer. There is even a magazine named after this melange of a meal. Make of that what you many.
We can all be confident that just because they call it brunch does not make it so. The standard acceptances of what should be on a menu have been stated as eggs of sort, preferably Benedict and something alcoholic, usually a Bloody Mary or a Mimosa. When someone starts adding chickpeas, olives and pan con tomate to the mix, can we still retain this creative name? Or, when no alcohol is included, have we missed the mark? Judge for yourselves. Among the plethora of brunch offering restaurants in Madrid, you tend to find the typical textbook brunch. But, if we undertake a more comprehensive search of what is on offer brunch-wise, we could find different takes on the matter, not textbook standard, but equally brunch worthy.
I did a little digging and found two places that have managed to offer their own versions of brunch, according to their view of things as they are. One place went completely carnivorous when tackling the brunch conundrum, whilst the other chose a more, all encompassing route.
The Place decided to offer its brunch in a rigid, non-changing way but mightily tasty all the same. The menu consists of carefully chosen items from around here and there. Eduardo, the owner, started with clay crockery from Salamanca and cutlery from 1920s France (fact). Then, for the food itself, he went on another searching escapade with epic results. His brunch starts with Embocadero Rose from Burgos along with some seasonal fruits. When I went, orange cut into wedges with some muscavado sugar were on offer. This is followed by an all-butter croissant from a local bakery round the corner from The Place. It is served with craft cream cheese from Soria. Honestly, best cream cheese I have tasted, by far. At this point you can decide to have your coffee or wait till afterwards. The final piece of this brunch from The Place is a flavourful and mouth-watering burger sandwich made with slow-roasted, boneless pork with sweet apple sauce. This porchetta, as it’s known, is sourced from near Rome. He gets it delivered as and when, then slices it in house. The burger sandwich comes with couscous and a little serving of soup! To this one, I would go back any day. Price is 16.50€ and it is served on Saturday and Sunday 13hrs to 16hrs
This place is for you if you are, Vegetarian, Vegan or Flexitarian (a flexible vegetarian.) I came across it a while back when I did vegetarian week. In total opposite to The Place, the brunch menu takes into account varied dietary needs. They offer 3 brunch menus per dietary lifestyle. When I went, I opted for the vegan brunch since it is good to try new things every once in a while. To start off, I had the seasonal fruits with pollen, agave honey and chlorella. You can feel the goodness happening inside you already. This was then followed by a vegan croissant with homemade jam and some apple juice. The main item were some raw-vegan spring rolls served with a house dressing with chilli and chocolate. Finally, a dessert of some gluten-free brownies. These were the most shockingly tasty gluten-free brownies I’d ever eaten. According to Marbell, the owner, she makes them solely with avocado and pure cocoa powder. You will have to try them to believe me. This brunch menu costs 15.90€.
Next time I go back to Zoco Comidero Bar, you will find me raving about the Venezuelan option which comes with arepas with chicken and avocado, scrambled eggs and also some yoghurt with muesli, plus more.
Given the above opening discussion, the brunch at Zoco does not fit the description, but certainly offers a welcome change to the typical, American imitation brunches on offer elsewhere. For anyone who had been looking for a viable restaurant that wasn’t all about the meat, then Zoco Comidero would be one to add to your list.
After all is said and done, brunch is somehow easy to define but difficult to have a standard set of what should be included and excluded. One thing, though, is certain, tasty food or don’t bother.
(Many thanks to the contributors with their definitions of brunch)