The Fox Cities know how to celebrate the meal weekends made famous
By Amelia Compton Wolff & Hibah Ansari
Who doesn’t love a meal that is also a verb? Brunching is practically a sport in the Fox Valley, where bacon comes candied and no eyebrows are raised at vodka before noon. In honor of prime spring brunch season, we break down some of the area’s most beloved brunches.
The Roxy Supper Club, Oshkosh
It’s plain to see why The Roxy Supper Club was voted Winnebago County’s Best Sunday Brunch. Fresh ingredients are utilized to create plated dishes like the meat lover’s skillet, eggs benedict and Wolfie’s Drunken Biscuits – biscuits topped off with chicken, bacon and green onion doused in gravy and melted cheddar cheese. On the other hand, you could request Bubba’s Breakfast Challenge which features an omelet made your way, pancakes or French toast, a side of mac and cheese, sausage links, sausage patties, bacon, biscuits and gravy or Wolfie’s Drunken Biscuits and your choice of toast. The victor will receive the meal for free along with bragging rights, of course. The lounge bar also opens at 10 a.m. on Sundays for guests who would like a change of atmosphere.
Mohnen’s Family Restaurant, Darboy
Since opening almost 25 years ago, Mohnen’s Family Restaurant is acclaimed as one of the most classic diners in Darboy. Mohnen’s regulars contest that their all-day breakfast makes it an ideal brunch destination. The Mohnen’s team is proud of their made-to-order dishes, such as their famous potato pancakes made with fresh, shredded potatoes. To satisfy a sweet tooth, consider Mohnen’s golden brown French toast stuffed with blueberries, raspberries and apples mixed with sweetened cream cheese and topped with more fruit and icing. The endless menu is sure to satisfy even your pickiest friends and family members. And what brunch isn’t complete without some ice cream? Try a brownie or turtle sundae next Sunday morning or opt for a hand-dipped Cedar Crest ice cream cone to-go.
Queen Bee, Appleton
If you’re looking for a unique brunch experience that won’t hurt your pocket, Queen Bee serves the best breakfast in town for under $10. Beyond your classic brunch dishes like (waiting on menu from Nancy), Queen Bee’s owner, Noor Baha, has incorporated Afghani flavors into some of their most well-loved dishes. The Afghani skillet features a bed of hashbrowns or American fries topped with Afghani-seasoned ground beef, tzatziki sauce and feta cheese. The skillet is served with pita on the side as well as eggs your way. Although Queen Bee is not open for Sunday brunch, you can catch them on Saturdays from 6 a.m. – 1 p.m. or on weekdays from 6 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Beyond the Bloody
3 breakfast cocktails sans tomato juice
Houdini’s Gastropub, Appleton
Rising and shining, even after a late night, is made doable with a cocktail like this. It consists of Tullamore D.E.W. Irish whiskey, maple syrup, sweet vermouth, fresh lemon juice and a whole egg. General Manager Cole Plamann says egg whites mellow the cocktail’s bold flavors and egg yolk provides a creamy and full-bodied mouthfeel – think Irish whiskey eggnog with a touch of maple syrup. In the words of Plamann, “I am not saying this will cure a hangover, but I’m not saying that it won’t.”
Blood Orange Fizz
Fratellos Riverfront Restaurant, Appleton
Fratellos in Appleton started serving brunch on Saturdays and Sundays last fall, which means they also added a menu of morning-minded libations. This Blood Orange Fizz is the drink of choice when you crave something sweet but not syrupy. Green Bay Distillery citrus vodka, blood orange sorbet, peach liqueur and fresh lemon juice are topped with Prosecco for a sophisticated drink perfect for spring.
The Creamery Downtown, Green Bay
The Creamery does brunch right, offering drinks with as much wow-factor as their food. This meal in a glass is made with Chopin potato vodka, housemade caramel, Jameson Irish whiskey, butterscotch schnapps, maple syrup, orange juice and heavy cream. In a bold garnish move, the Flapjack Fizz is topped with two caramelized mini pancakes, whipped cream, seasonal berries and both caramel and maple syrup.
When Beer and Brunch Collide
With 40 craft beers on tap (and even more in bottles), Chester V’s in Oshkosh is a well-established destination for beer aficionados. So when the gastropub launched brunch service earlier this year, it was hard not to assume that beer would be an important part of the equation. Rest-assured, it is. For $12, brunchers can imbibe in bottomless “manmosas” – the mimosa’s more masculine cousin that swaps beer for the bubbles, usually Spotted Cow or Blue Moon. Cozy up to your Nutella banana waffle at one of the restaurant’s four table tenders, pub tables equipped with beer tappers that enable diners to pour their own brew while tracking it on an iPad. Brunch is served Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Worth the Drive Brunch: Village Hearthstone, Hilbert
Served every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., brunch at Village Hearthstone is worth the 30 minute trek to Hilbert. Start off your meal with an order of candied bacon or poutine, because it’s Sunday and you can. For your entree, general Manager Jeff Milhaupt suggests trying the shrimp and grits with shaved chorizo and roasted red pepper sauce, but you can’t go wrong with the corned beef skillet or plate-sized pancakes. The brunch menu changes frequently, seasonally and with ingredient availability, so make sure to check in often for the latest iteration.
Chicken & Waffles Nation
Further your chicken and waffles obsession with these must-try interpretations
Chicken and Waffles Brunch Pizza
Broken Tree Pizza, Neenah
What’s the only way to improve upon our beloved chicken and waffles? Put them on a pizza. Broken Tree Pizza’s new Sunday brunch served 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. offers a lineup of brunch favorites in pizza form, including a chicken and waffles pizza. It all starts with a maple syrup base topped with Broken Tree’s house blend cheese including mozzarella and provolone. That’s topped with diced fried chicken strips and diced homemade belgian waffles. This little slice of heaven is finished with more maple syrup and melted butter (because why not?) for a pizza that’s a little more sweet than savory.
Cozzy Chicken and Waffles
Cozzy Corner, Appleton
For the real deal, soul-food-style chicken and waffles experience, there’s no one who does it better than Cozzy Corner. (Their classic fried chicken served with Belgian waffles might be their most-Instagrammed dish of all time because it is just that awe-inspiring.) Kick it up a notch with the Cozzy Double, fried chicken sandwiched between not one, but two waffles, or the Red Velvet waffle plate which swaps a red velvet waffle for the original. The best part is you don’t have to wait until the weekend for these particular chicken and waffles. They are served all day, every day during regular restaurant hours.
Chicken and Waffle Sliders
Bar 430, Oshkosh
After experiencing the original chicken and waffles at their birthplace, Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles in Long Beach, Dion Block vowed to bring them home to the Valley. He made good on that promise by introducing chicken and waffle sliders at Bar 430 in Oshkosh, served Saturday and Sunday mornings until 1 p.m. “We like to introduce new items and change things around, but this one is always at the top,” says Block, manager at Bar 430. The key to these sliders is the chicken – thigh meat soaked in brine overnight and deep fried to order. The chicken is served with smoked bacon, pepper gravy and maple syrup sandwiched between buttermilk Belgian waffle triangles. “When one of the servers walks out of the kitchen with it, it gets a lot of head turns,” Block says of the popular dish. “People are just excited, like a dog waiting for a treat.”
A line up of our favorite sweet rolls, pastries and baked goods
Blueberry Lavender Scone
Seth’s Coffee, Little Chute & Seth’s Drive Thru, Appleton
Never dry and always delicious, a scone from Seth’s is one of life’s simple pleasures. Sit down at the Little Chute location or pull up to Seth’s Drive Thru in Appleton to score some for a brunch at home. The flavor line up is always changing, so make sure to try the latest seasonal offering like this blueberry lavender scone.
Happy Bellies Bake Shop, Appleton
Gluten-free donuts used to be something of an oxymoron. Gluten-free donuts that tasted good? Even more so. Then Happy Bellies Bake Shop changed everything. In flavors like lemon poppyseed with raspberry frosting, vanilla sprinkle and toasted coconut, their donuts are baked and free of gluten, dairy and eggs.
Pain Au Chocolat
Hand-rolled by head pastry chef Jen Kronberg, these buttery beauties from Timshel Cafe are a true labor of love. The multistep process takes 48 hours to complete, but after one bite you will understand why they are worth the trouble. Flaky and decadent, these croissants are stuffed with chocolate and pair perfectly with a roasty cup of coffee.
Blackberry Almond Coffee Cake
Kaukauna Coffee & Tea
This sour cream coffee cake is made with whole wheat flour, whole berries, a touch of almond extract and is topped with slivered almonds and a butter crumble. Some days you might find it in raspberry, but either way, devouring a piece will quickly become your new brunch tradition.
The cool thing about brunch (as opposed to just plain, old breakfast) is that it can be punctuated with dessert and at SAP in Appleton, dessert is taken very, very seriously. This velvety chocolate custard adorned with fresh berries is the exclamation point to your morning meal.
When you can’t decide between French toast and scrambled eggs, get both.
A veteran of the Fox Valley brunch scene, Darboy Club has been offering a buffet-style brunch for at least the last 15 years. Co-owner Mark Tatro says the restaurant’s famous broasted chicken is a major brunch draw, but the buffet offers up everything from eggs and bacon to kid-approved French toast sticks. For those seeking lunchtime fare, roast beef, haddock and fried shrimp are among the many options. There are also additional dessert, and soup and salad buffets. Brunch is served every Sunday (except some holiday weekends such as Labor Day and Memorial Day) from 10 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Tatro says the restaurant has grown adept at handling large, last-minute groups, although reservations are always appreciated.
Little Chicago, Kaukauna
Brunch at Little Chicago delivers quantity and quality with their extensive buffet spread. Traditional breakfast dishes like made-to-order pancakes, waffles, French toast and eggs any which way are paired with hash rounds, apple-smoked bacon and glazed ham. Indulge in less traditional morning items like fried chicken, tenderloin tips, roast beef, mashed potatoes, a cheesy potato bake, biscuits and gravy and country fried steak. “It’s a fairly large buffet,” says owner, Butch Kolosso. “We offer things most people don’t even think to put out there.” Little Chicago’s assorted buffet also features a soup and salad bar and homemade desserts. Enjoy this brunch buffet from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at this classic Chicago-style restaurant, without having to make the trek all the way to the Windy City.
The Orchard Cafe, Appleton
The Orchard Cafe’s Mediterranean-style patio, inside the Radisson Paper Valley Hotel, is home to one of the Valley’s most extensive brunch buffets. Served on Sundays from 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., the buffet includes everything from fresh fruit and smoked salmon to pastries and a chocolate fountain. Various chef stations offer up made-to-order dishes such as omelets and fresh cut meats. Senior General Manager Jay Schumerth says The Orchard’s brunch is open to the public, so there’s no need to shy away as non-guests of the hotel. On Mother’s Day, brunch is served in the Grand Ballroom and Schumerth says the restaurant will serve roughly 1,600 people, so make reservations pronto.
WeatherVane delivers a big buffet spread in the heart of Menasha’s historic district. “The building itself was built in 1885 and has plenty of character with original brick and a mix of old and new,” says owner Pat DuFrane. The Saturday Breakfast Buffet runs from 8 to 11 a.m. and the Sunday Deluxe Breakfast Buffet runs until 1 p.m. At the Sunday buffet, DuFrane suggests a slice of a speciality French toast bake in caramel pecan or strawberry rhubarb. Another popular item is the WeatherVane Scrambler, eggs served on hash browns topped with mushrooms, green peppers, onions, ham, sausage and smothered in cheddar cheese. If you’re feeling brave, give the Tsunami Challenge a try. This seven and a half pound mammoth includes hash browns, pancakes and toast along with an omelet of ham, sausage, bacon, mushrooms, American cheese, cheddar cheese, tomato, pepper jack cheese, Swiss cheese, onions, green peppers, and spinach, all rolled within a tortilla and eggs. Those who finish in one sitting will get their dish for free, plus $50, a t-shirt and will forever be remembered as a “Tsunami Survivor” on WeatherVane’s Wall of Fame.
Out on the Patio
Dining al fresco kicks brunch up a notch. Tempest Coffee Collective in Appleton has a beautiful patio planned that will include two pergolas, raised flower beds and possibly an herb garden where guests can enjoy coffee and waffle sandwiches outdoors. Puppies are invited to your next Sunday brunch at The Source Public House in Menasha, where two gorgeous patios (one of which is dog-friendly) will open May 16. The restaurant also features live music on “Bluegrass Sundays” from 2–4 p.m. Looking for an urban experience? Enjoy brunch and cocktails in the midst of the hustle and bustle of College Avenue on the “Spatio” at Spats. During the summer months, guests will typically relax out on the Spatio with their coffee while they read the Sunday paper.
Worth the Drive Brunch: LaClare Farms, Malone
Brunch with baby goats? We “kid” you not. (Sorry, we couldn’t resist.) It happens at LaClare Farms in Malone, just north of Pipe on the east shore of Lake Winnebago, which is about a 40 minute drive from Appleton. Plated brunch is served every Sunday, year round, in the cafe from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Many of the entrees feature the farmstead creamery’s own cheeses, like the garden omelet made with garlic and herb chevre, spinach, tomato and sauteed mushrooms. After brunch, guests can peruse the cheese aging coolers to see LeClare’s award-winning Evalon at various stages of aging. At the opposite end of the cafe is the milking parlor and viewing room with baby goats on display. Stick around until 4:30 p.m. to witness the daily milking of the farm’s 700 goats.