A few years ago, Life ran a brunch column reviewing restaurants around campus, so I’ve refrained from venturing into the beloved topic. But I think it’s been long enough, and I have so many thoughts to share! So here’s my take on the best brunch and breakfast eateries around campus, of which there are many. My friends, sisters and I all love brunch, so I’ve been fortunate enough to try a lot of places, but am looking to try more before I graduate!
Best Budget: Gramma’s Comfort Foods (Mansfield)
I know I previously awarded this honor to another restaurant, but Gramma’s is another hidden gem in the area: the girls who know, know, and the girls who don’t, don’t. I feel like people hear about Gramma’s through word of mouth, and that makes it all the more charming. All who go leave with their tummies, taste buds and wallets satisfied.
The outside looks unassuming, but the interior is cozy and no-frills, with the sun streaming in. Their menu has the classic breakfast and lunch categories with a good variety of options for affordable prices. Brunch places are known to inflate their prices since they have become so popular, but Gramma’s gives you the best bang for your buck with large portions. Quite honestly, they have the largest pancakes I’ve seen, for only $3.75 for one and $6.50 for two. Two eggs, homefries, two slices of toast and a choice of meat clock in at $8.50; add two pancakes for the $11.25 Hungry Boy special; and omelets — served with homefries and toast, of course — range from $6.25 to $11.25. Gramma’s also has fun and creative specials, from cinnamon roll pancakes to a mac and cheese omelet.
Best for Special Occasions: Monet’s Table (Tolland)
About 15 minutes from campus, the Monet’s Table restaurant is located in a cozy bed-and-breakfast-like house reminiscent of the Dragonfly Inn in “Gilmore Girls.” Outside of the building is a picturesque gazebo area, as well as a chicken coop to the side, signaling the fresh and locally-sourced ingredients. Equally a catering business as a restaurant, Monet’s only serves lunch 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. from Wednesday to Friday and only serves brunch 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, making brunch a more unique occasion.
I’m surprised and fairly disappointed that I didn’t know about Monet’s Table earlier. The area and interior are so charming, as are the staff and the menu. For example, the cute tea pot and tea cups they give you when you order one of their unique tea blends. Further, the menu selection is approachable, but creative and fairly affordable. The portions aren’t huge, but manageable and perfect for one meal. They switch out their specials according to the seasons, so it’s always fun to see what they whip up. With options like eggs benedict with filet mignon and béarnaise sauce ($16); eggs benedict with tomatoes, buttered lobster, asparagus and béchamel sauce ($15); eggs benedict with crab cakes, asparagus and crispy cheddar ($13); mixed berry corn bread french toast with maple berry sauce ($10); and a selection of boozy brunch beverages, you can get a classy meal for a reasonable price at a reasonable distance from Storrs.
Best Variety and Specials: That Breakfast Place (Willimantic)
Eating at That Breakfast Place is a bit pricey, but it’s a great all-around breakfast place with a classic diner interior, great menu selection, yummy food, fairly large portions and fun specials. Their fun special coffee flavors include coconut chocolate, brown sugar mocha and blueberry muffin. Their fun special bread flavors include orange cranberry, mango blueberry, red velvet, apple cinnamon and classic corn. Their past creative specials have included a breakfast chimichanga, chunky monkey waffle and a garlic lobster benedict. Their entrees, like omelets, pancakes and quesadillas are upwards of $14.
Check out Hollieats next week for more best of brunch categories, including Hidden Gem, Best Bagels, To Bring Your Parents To and Classic-Close-to-Campus!