Throw the Perfect Brunch

The perfect brunch is the right combination of tasty food and a comfortable vibe.

Brunch is all about perfect combinations — breakfast and lunch, sweet and savory, a little relaxed and a little fancy. The leisurely, late-morning affairs are best when they’re laidback and loungy, with tasty food and a comfortable vibe that encourages guests to kick off their shoes and hang out.

Also check out: Start Your Morning Right with Gluten-free Pancakes

The set-up: Seat everyone closely around the table to encourage conversation and serve the food family-style, or let people serve themselves from a buffet and then plop down wherever they please. Go for casual and cozy, not stiff and stuffy. Arrange flowers in small jars or old tea tins. Light unscented candles. And don’t forget the music.

Eggs-cellent: An egg casserole or strata makes a tasty, filling anchor dish. Most can be assembled the night before and then popped into the oven that morning. The Pancetta-Fontina Bread Pudding from The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook by Cheryl and Griffin Day is decadent. A vegetarian option is Smitten Kitchen’s Spinach and Cheese Strata

Gimme some sugar: Add some sweets to balance out the savory. Cinnamon buns, homemade donuts and muffins are always hits. Or make a quick sweet bread, such as in-season zucchini bread or Orangette’s Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips and Candied Ginger, an elegant twist on a homey favorite. 

DIY drinks: What brunch would be complete without cocktails? (Answer: None.) Set up a Mimosa or Bloody Mary bar so guests can design their own drinks. For a Mimosa bar, fill glass carafes with fresh orange juice, peach nectar and fresh strawberry puree. Fresh or frozen berries and candied lemon peel are great garnishes. For a Bloody Mary bar, rim glasses with celery salt or salt and pepper and amp up the add-ins: pickled veggies, peppadews, olives, Tabasco or Sriracha, lemon and lime slices. Make ice cubes from juice, like these from Food & Wine.