Grazing with the brunch bunch

Wherever you roam, one of these 9 hot spots will be cooking up a breakfast worth getting up (late) for

Richard Stilwell of Providence and Lou Procaccini of Cranston have brunch at Julian's Providence on Sunday, November 22, 2009. Stilwell ordered the Desperado, an avocado and salsa eggs benedict and Procaccini had the Jedi Mind Trick, a spinach, mushroom, grilled onion and swiss omelet. Richard Stilwell of Providence and Lou Procaccini of Cranston have brunch at Julian's Providence on Sunday, November 22, 2009. Stilwell ordered the Desperado, an avocado and salsa eggs benedict and Procaccini had the Jedi Mind Trick, a spinach, mushroom, grilled onion and swiss omelet. (Christine Hochkeppel for The Boston Globe )
By Patricia Harris and David Lyon
Globe Correspondents / December 6, 2009

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Who doesn’t like breakfast - especially when you don’t have to get up early to eat it? Brunch is the perfect solution for holiday season entertaining. Even if you and your best friends from out of town closed the bars on Saturday night, you’ll be ready for civilized conversation by the time Sunday brunch rolls around. And if the extended family is in town, both buffet and a la carte brunches offer something for the heartiest and the pickiest eaters alike. Here’s a sampler of brunches around New England, most of them in places where you can make a day of it. Reservations are recommended and often essential.

House of Blues Mealtime doesn’t get more rousing than the Southern-style buffet of the Gospel Brunch at the House of Blues, even if you do have to set down your fork periodically to answer “Amen!’’ to the choir. Indulge the inner good-old-boy with fried chicken, cheddar grits, biscuits with country gravy, and white chocolate banana bread pudding. Besides the Southern grub, you can relish roast beef with horseradish or just fill your plate with peel-and-eat shrimp. 15 Lansdowne St., Boston, 888-693-2583, Brunch Sunday 10 a.m. $45, seniors $38, ages 4-12 $25, under 4 free.

Red Rock Bistro & Bar This North Shore joint also jumps at Sunday brunch, thanks to the rotating roster of jazz and R&B artists who take the stage at noon. The a la carte menu offers breakfast lovers the likes of challah French toast or simple omelets, while hungry folks can tuck into steak and eggs with pancakes and hollandaise sauce or the burger “fixer-upper’’ with a shot of tequila on the side. There is an extensive menu of margaritas and martinis. 141 Humphrey St., Swampscott, 781-595-1414, Brunch Sunday 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m., music noon-3. Entrees $8.50-$27.

Chase’s Daily “Local’’ certainly defines the food at Chase’s; a lot of it is raised on the Chase family farm west of town. The a la carte brunch is essentially a mash-up of the breakfast and lunch menus at this popular counterculture cafe in the former Odd Fellows Hall. You’ll be so enraptured by the vegetables, farm-fresh eggs, homemade granola with homemade yogurt, and blueberries bursting in fluffy pancakes that you’ll have probably cleaned your plate before you notice that there’s no bacon or sausage. Chase’s Daily is vegetarian. 96 Main St., Belfast, Maine, 207-338-0555. Brunch Sunday 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Entrees $4-$9.

Harraseeket Inn More than three dozen Maine growers and harvesters supply the tables at the Harraseeket, but the Sunday brunch buffet often features steamed and chilled lobster (drawn butter optional). The idea is to help local fishermen and diners alike while lobster prices are depressed. Beyond the signature crustacean, the kitchen gets creative with whatever suits the season. Count on roasted joints of meat, a few hearty pasta choices, at least one fancy egg dish, and a crepe station. Fuel up on the bake shop desserts before you hit the outlet stores. 162 Main St., Freeport, Maine, 207-865-9377, Brunch Sunday 11:45 a.m.- 2 p.m. $24.95.

Julian’s Providence The omelets have “Star Wars’’ names and some staff flaunt their video game levels, but Julian’s isn’t just for fans of “The Big Bang Theory’’ TV show. The restaurant offers brunch daily, and long lines are the rule on weekends, and sometimes on weekdays. Vegans get their own section of the menu. (The tofu stands alone.) The big story here, however, is the revival and reinvention of breakfast hash, which comes in combinations like mushrooms and boursin cheese. Order it as a plate to share or as a side in lieu of home fries with the egg dishes. 318 Broadway, Providence, 401-861-1770, Brunch weekends 9 a.m.-2:45 p.m., weekdays 9-5. Entrees $3-$14.

White Horse Tavern The White Horse started serving meals in 1673 and thus possesses precisely the ambience for a formal and elegant Ye Olde Brunch. It’s probably not the best venue for bringing children, as few kids we know would enjoy the individual beef Wellington of tenderloin and pate de foie gras in puff pastry, or the lobster mac and cheese dabbed with truffle lobster oil. Traditionalists might prefer the least expensive ($13) entree of eggs Benedict, made with speck and served with potatoes Anna. 26 Marlborough St., Newport, R.I., 401-849-3600, Brunch Sunday 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Entrees $13-$39.

Hanover Inn If “Sunday Brunch’’ conjures up images of a stately midday meal in an elegant dining room, then the Hanover Inn’s newly renovated Daniel Webster Room is just the ticket. Appetizers, soup, and salads are offered on a buffet, but you order your entree, which could range from simple fare such as strawberry pancakes to a strip steak with mashed potatoes and red wine demi-glace. Then you choose dessert from the table of in-house bakery goodies. This arrangement fosters a more genteel meal than the usual buffet, since diners aren’t constantly popping up to refill their plates. Main Street, Hanover, N.H., 603-643-4300, Brunch Sunday 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. $22.50, children $14.50.

Dutch Pancake Cafe Ski towns like Stowe have no shortage of places serving hearty breakfasts, but the cafe at the Grey Fox Inn has carved out a specialized niche by offering 80 versions of Nederlandse pannekoeken, or Dutch pancakes. These plate-sized crepes are filled with either sweet or savory ingredients, from cinnamon-dusted apples to artichoke hearts and black olives. More traditional options like a version of eggs Benedict and a Monte Cristo sandwich with home fries are also available, but the giant crepes are hard to resist. 990 Mountain Road, Stowe, Vt., 802-253-8921, Breakfast and brunch through mid-December Monday-Friday 8-11 a.m., Saturday-Sunday 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m.; after mid-December daily 7:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Entrees $8.95-$11.50.

Butler’s Restaurant and Tavern Closely affiliated with the New England Culinary Institute, Butler’s Restaurant and Tavern at The Essex, Vermont’s Culinary Resort and Spa, is probably best known for its contemporary American cuisine at dinnertime. But the restaurant also puts on a highly popular Sunday brunch buffet spread of salads and terrines, special stations for waffles and omelets, a couple of carving stations, and an eye-popping array of desserts and pastries. One specialty table is laden with Vermont cheeses. 70 Essex Way, Essex, Vt., 802-878-1100, Brunch Sunday 10 a.m.-2 p.m. $19.95, ages 5-12 $10.95, under 5 free.

Patricia Harris and David Lyon can be reached at