The Water’s Edge
1525 Boston Post Road
Westbrook, CT 06498
After a night of dining, dancing and drinking, the revelers who stay on at The Water’s Edge resort and spa can partake in a splendid, elegant New Year’s Day brunch. Available as part of the overnight package or on its own, the menu is matched only by the view of the Long Island Sound. A winter beach is a thing of beauty and, weather permitting, an after-brunch beach walk is a nice way to aid in recovering from the excesses of this partying holiday.
The Restaurant at Water’s Edge, as the main dining room is called, has won numerous awards for its cuisine – and especially for its brunches, wining the “Best Sunday Brunch” award from Connecticut Magazine, among other honors. Brunch menus always include seasonal roasts carved to order, as well as omelet and waffle stations, and the famous Salt Island raw bar.
539 Broad St.
Hartford, CT 06106
The New Year’s Day “Tavern Brunch” at Firebox in Hartford is a good way to “cure your hangover” and “help ensure your new year starts off amazingly well,” or at least that is how the staff promotes its annual New Year’s Day brunch. Using only “local eggs, local fresh meats and tons of love” Firebox presents patrons with the best of Connecticut “farm to table” dining. The “Four Mile River Farm” hamburger, made from local grass-fed beef and served on a poppy brioche roll, is just the kind of high-protein meal someone who imbibed in a few too many martinis or drank more champagne than they are used to the night before needs to help restore balance to the force. “Eggs Benny” with “house-cured pastrami” or the “Cornbread and Collards” (which comes with eggs sunny-side up) are big hits on the brunch parade at Firebox, as are the buttermilk waffles.
537 Farmington Ave.
West Hartford, CT 06105
A truly unique fusion of European and Asian cuisine, Tisane in West Hartford “cross-pollinates” its dishes across cultures, such as blending General Tso with the Colonel to make some incredible BBQ wings. Its “Far East Nachos” are also quite a revelation, as Tisane uses fried wontons instead of tortilla chips and spiced pork, melted pepper jack and mango salsa in its twist on the Tex-Mex favorite.
Brunch at Tisane is similarly surprising, with offerings such as the Texas Red Eye of organic eggs and shaved steak, The Newly Departed, which puts bacon, peanut butter and banana jam between pieces of toast over which is drizzled orange blossom honey. The Cinnamon Daze is French toast meets bread pudding meets cinnamon bun, and is a nice complement to the various frittata dishes – for this is a place where people who brunch are going to share each other’s entrees.
New Year’s Day brunch, of course, follows New Year’s Eve, so a little hair of the dog is probably a good idea, and Tisane serves up a set of brunch specials appropriately dubbed The Hangover Helpers. These include several twists on the traditional Bloody Mary (such as the Proud Mary, Bloody Cajun, Bloody Texan, etc.) and some lovely champagne cocktails, including its signature Tisane Bellini, made with Georgia peach nectar.
La Luna Ristorante
168 N. Main St.
Branford, CT 06405
La Luna Ristorante bills its annual New Year’s Day offering as “the largest brunch on the shoreline,” and just from the sheer number of items on the menu, let alone the dizzying amount of food it puts out, its boast rings as true as the bells that announced the new year the night before. There are hot breakfast and hot luncheon buffets, omelet and carving stations, Belgian waffles made to order, antipasto and salad bars and, of course, mountainous dessert trays. The sweet potato pie – along with many other homemade pies, cakes and especially tiramisu – are reason enough to come to the shore for brunch. Mimosas, screwdrivers and Bloody Marys (or juice) are included in the price. La Luna is so popular on New Year’s Day, that it has five seatings for its brunch, with the first at 11 a.m. and the last at 3:30 p.m.
13 Marshal St.
South Norwalk, CT 06854
There is something especially fitting about starting the new year at a beer bar. Sono Brewhouse in historic South Norwalk serves up fine food (and lots of it) at its holiday and Sunday brunches. The Lobster Pot Pie is a staple of the brunch and regular menu, as is the raw bar. There are the expected breakfast stations and carving boards, but what sets Sono apart (besides, of course, the lobster pot pie, dim sum and Viennese dessert table) is the extensive beer list. With 16 beers from five countries on tap, plus over 50 kinds of bottled beer from around the country and around the world to choose from, Sono Brewhouse is a beer connoisseur’s delight.
Mark G. McLaughlin is a professional and prolific writer with a proven publishing record in a wide variety of fields. An historian, novelist, freelance journalist, ghost-writer, book reviewer, magazine editor, web and magazine columnist, Mark has more than 30 years of experience. His work can be found at Examiner.com.