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What About Brunch?

Let’s talk about brunch, baby! The British invented it, but Americans perfected it. The French scoff at it. Paris needs a brunch scene and it doesn’t have one. How is it possible that the epicenter of eating has neglected an entire meal? Maybe it’s because in France, Sunday Lunch with the family is kind of sacred. A lot of restaurants aren’t even open on Sundays. Perhaps it’s also because it’s so acceptable here to have wine with lunch, no one needed to invent an excuse to day drink. Maybe it’s because when you’re not big on breakfast, brunch seems superfluous. Why expand on a meal that most people ignore? These are all possible answers, but the bottom line is I’ve been waiting patiently for Paris to get on the brunch bandwagon, and it’s not happening fast enough.

What we have now is what I like to call ‘bistro brunch’. This is what happens when your neighborhood brasserie that’s open on Sundays tries to have a brunch menu. They quite cynically pile all the elements of a typical French breakfast (fruit, croissant, pastries, an egg a la coque, coffee and juice) into a formule with a smoked salmon dish AND dessert and call it le brunch. Le Brunch can be good, but it’s often too many plates of food to have at once, and it doesn’t capture the essence of Brunch. Brunch, to me, is better as an a la carte situation. I want to be able to choose a decadent sweet breakfast dish paired with a savory side item. Or an indulgent savory dish with something sweet off to the side. Stuffed french toast with hash browns. Pancakes that qualify as dessert. Thick-cut bacon. Chicken and waffles. Some hipster variation of Eggs Benedict with a cinnamon roll. At least one buzzy Mimosa-adjacent cocktail. Finally, I want to be able to linger a bit in my postprandial bliss, before being turned out onto these Paris streets. The ideal brunch spot should be comfortable, convivial, and creative.

In my quest for brunch, Post-Covid Paris actually surprised me. I found enough options to sort into categories. First, there are Sunday Only Brunch spots. These are mostly buffets, and frequently in hotels. Then, there are weekend brunch spots, and finally, we have a couple of ‘all brunch all day’ restaurants.

Sunday Brunch Buffets

Nomad’s, the first brunch buffet I’d discovered, is a family favorite. It’s a spacious restaurant with outdoor seating, and an impressive spread. Crepes, waffles, scrambled eggs that don’t taste like they’re on a buffet, yummy sausages, bacon, quiche, salads, potatoes, and my daughter loves their croissants (why she fixated on the croissants with all the other choices is a mystery). Coffee, chocolat chaud and juice are free-flowing (a rarity in restaurants). Nomad’s gets crowded, but I’ve never felt like they were rushing us to turn over the table. Because of its location in the first arrondissement, Nomad’s is a great choice if you’re going to do something touristy afterward, like strolling in Les Tuileries, or Place Vendome. You might need to walk off all those croissants. 4.5 stars, 5 if you ask my daughter. (12-14 Rue du Marché Saint-Honoré, 75001)

Inka, at Hotel 1K.

Come for the decor, stay for the churros.

Inka is a Peruvian themed restaurant with a Latin American brunch buffet. I visited Inka twice and had two different experiences. When we first tried Inka’s brunch it was three-fold: you begin with the buffet, then you can order a plat from their taqueria AND THEN you get dessert. It was an astounding amount of tasty food, for about 35 euros per person. They have a ceviche bar, arepas, very good scrambled eggs, rice, potatoes, fresh fruit, good juices and the best churros I’ve had in Paris. We were hooked (and stuffed). I think they realized it was too much, because we recently went back and they did not offer the menu+dessert. Or maybe it was because it was Easter and they changed up the program. Either way, with just the buffet, it’s still a lot of amazing food for the price. The Paques buffet featured duck confit paella, chicken salad bao tacos, and plentiful savory dishes that I can’t remember the names of. You won’t get pancakes or any typical breakfast sweets, but you won’t mind. It was so much good food, and because of that, they don’t rush you. The restaurant and the lobby of the hotel are beautifully decorated, you want to just sit there and look fashionable. Inka is good for the family brunch, or the boozy brunch with friends (shout out to their Mezcal Mule cocktail). Just bring your appetite. 5 stars. (13 Boulevard du Temple, 75003)

Weekend Brunch

Cafe Cassette: Cute. Too cute. Late one Saturday morning (Cassette is the rare spot that offers brunch on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays), my family visited this very bright, very flowery, kitschy,very busy corner brasserie. The music was nice, the chairs were comfy, and the staff was eager. This place was very pleasant to be in. They had a lot of intriguing drinks

Cafe Cassette

on the menu. I didn’t even order a mimosa because I was drawn to the ‘King Mix’, a fancy Arnold Palmer (iced tea and lemonade). Getting a good iced tea in France is another issue, but I digress. Cassette has a ‘le brunch’ formule and an a la carte brunch menu. I chose the banana pancakes, which were good but tiny and not really decadent at all. Restaurant pancakes, in my opinion, should dominate the plate they’re on. Cassette’s pancakes were on a smaller than average plate and there was still plenty of vacant space, crying out for bacon, or a garnish, or something. Also, the a la carte menu had no sides, so I had to request (canadian) bacon after my husband pointed out they had it on the formule. Husband and daughter both chose salé egg dishes: the Norwegian benedict and the egg cheesy muffin. They were satisfied, but none of us were blown away by what we ate. When the check arrived, I felt like we’d not eaten our money’s worth. You are clearly paying for the cute atmosphere at Cafe Cassette. I’d love to come back here for an overpriced drink with someone from out of town, and sit in the swing chairs, but it’s not going to be my brunch spot. 3 stars. (73 rue de Rennes, 75006)

Break! Honorable Mention for this spot. Break was brought to my attention during the fabulous Message Volunteer Brunch. It’s kind of hidden in a tennis club in the 17th arrondissement. It’s bright, overlooks the tennis courts, and is going for a California vibe. They’ve got brunch on the weekends (I think). There’s Benedicts, two different varieties of avocado toast you can customize, Sunny Side Up Pancakes (which I was dubious about, but it was good), and french toast. Lots to explore on the menu, even cinnamon rolls! If you’re in the 17th this could be your place. (119 Blvd Pereire, 75017)

Sunny Side Up Pancakes

Patrol Paris was a surprise entry to the brunch lineup. I went there on a lark, on a late Sunday afternoon. A shaded terrace facing Jardin du Luxembourg, not crowded, perfect

for day drinking and people watching. Patrol has a pretty deep brunch menu, where you can choose ‘le brunch’ formule or a la carte. I was drawn to order something called the Avocado Donut (of course), and I was pleased. It consisted of a savory donut, not a bagel, but a brioche-y circle, with guacamole and avocado chunks, spinach leaves, spicy goji berries, and smoked salmon. Very yummy take on avocado toast. On the sweet side, they’ve got house made donuts, pancakes, and two kinds of brioche french toast. I chose the strawberry and white chocolate version and loved every decadent bite. The brioche had a swirl of cinnamon in it, the white chocolate sauce wasn’t lame, and the strawberries were the perfect french berries I live for. They had a good cocktail list, for your day drinking desires, and some good looking pancakes I didn't get to try, so Patrol is definitely worth checking out. (2 Place Edmund Rostand, 75006)

All Brunch All The Time

Kozy is on the brunch bandwagon for sure. They have 3 locations, and they all serve brunch all day, bless their hearts! The first time we visited Kozy, it was the Av. Bosquet location in August. We waited in line for about 20 minutes, so I’m thinking this place must be awesome. It was okay. No one hated what they got, but no one raved either. The fresh pressed juice drinks they had were very good. My caramel banana pancakes with peanut butter and chocolate chips were a good size, took up the whole plate, and definitely could pass for dessert. I love peanut butter, however, on these pancakes it weighed the dish down, making them taste dry. The juice smoothie I had was very good, and my husband liked his Benedict dish, but I left Kozy’s feeling underwhelmed. The second visit however, changed my perspective. This time, I went to the Notre Dame location, on a weekday, so no waiting. The ND location has a slightly different menu, with the notable addition of chicken and waffles. I was very doubtful of French chicken & waffles, but it was actually pretty good. The chicken was a well-seasoned, crisp, fried, boneless

Kozy's Chicken & Waffle

breast with a spicy honey on the side. The waffle was pretty perfect (not too hard), sprinkled with powdered sugar. It was a surprisingly good take on a dish that is easy to screw up. My daughter had a cinnamon roll, which she wasn’t too impressed with, and the avocado toast was decent. Overall, I like Kozy’s, and their concept, but I don’t think it’s worth standing in line for, especially on the weekends. 4 stars on a weekday. (Kozy Bosquet 79 Av. Bosquet, 75007; Kozy Notre Dame 6 rue du Petit Pont, 75005; Kozy Kanope 46 rue Lafayette, 75009)

46 & 3rd. A definite star on the brunch scene, 46 & 3rd does all brunch all day, and I like the way they do it. Their menu has a good assortment of savory and sweet brunch classics like avocado toast, some benedicts and four(!) different pancake dishes. Their pancakes are a bit different: thick and fluffy as if they use baking powder in the batter. I can’t think of a better size reference than a bun or hockey puck. Light, fluffy, golden hockey pucks. My friends had the pancakes nature and found them a bit dry. However, I had the apple jack pancakes and they were divine. Studded with orange segments, drizzled with salted caramel, topped with thin ribbons of granny smith apple and toasted coconut. It sounds like a lot of different elements, but it all blended perfectly. Ordering those pancakes with a side of bacon to dip in the caramel sauce was the best decision ever. My companions had scrambled eggs with mushrooms and bacon on toast, chili cheese croquettes, and a fruit/granola/yogurt bowl. The egg dish was good, according to my spouse, but it needed thicker bread to stand up to the eggs. Also, they had legit hot sauce! Hibiscus iced tea was a highlight. The staff were smiley and attentive, the restaurant was spacious enough, and we liked being there. Would definitely go back, any day of the week. 5 stars! (46 rue de Turbigo, 75003)

I’m newly optimistic about the brunch situation in Paris. We may not have a brunch “scene” yet, but there are more places to discover than I realized. We’re not confined to just Sundays, or just the restaurants that cater to tourists, or just one type of cuisine (Asian brunch just popped up on my radar). That’s progress. Let’s raise a (mimosa) glass to progress!

If you’ve got a favorite brunch place you don’t mind sharing, tell us all about it in the comments.

About the Author:

Rachelle Chapman is the mom of Camille (12), and Message Paris Blog Contributor. Originally a Chicago native, she has been living in Paris since 2014.


All photos in this article taken by Rachelle Chapman.

The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of Message.


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