Culture, Feature Story

The Art of Brunching in Detroit

On a chilly Sunday afternoon, my husband drives me to La Dolce Vita. He’s dropping me off to meet up with Detroit food blogger Jaslyn Ivey. I connected with Jaslyn via Instagram to interview her about the art of brunching.

I’m feeling really excited because it’s my first time brunching in Detroit. It’s crazy to think after living here for 4 years I haven’t done brunch yet. Admittedly, after having a busy week with my five kids and doing blog work, I’m also eager for a day out with a friend!

Known as @brunchblissdet on Instagram, Jaslyn enjoys sharing her love for brunch on social media. As a native Detroiter, she knows all of the hot brunch spots in the D and metro area. Just ask her for a top 5 list of where to brunch in Detroit, and Jaslyn’s got you covered!

Jaslyn says her love for brunch began when she was a young girl. Her parents first introduced her to brunch and since her family LOVES to get together for brunch on the weekends.

Brunch has now cultivated into one of Jasyln’s great passions. When Jasyln was in college, she realized just how much she loved brunch. While spending time on the East Coast, Jaslyn said she would often go to brunch with her classmates. “It really hit me how much I love the brunch culture,” she tells me of her time in Baltiore and Washington, D.C. “I love being able to try new restaurants!”

After moving back to Detroit, her parents encouraged her to start blogging about brunch. Right now, Jasyln shares her brunch adventures on her Instagram page, but she plans to launch a blog website and Facebook page very soon.

Jaslyn and I at brunch at La Dolce Vita in Detroit. (Photo credit: Jennifer Hamra)

Now, I’m not really a brunch person, at least, I wasn’t before I met Jaslyn. I’d say I’m more of a dinner person. That might because I like to start my day after 12 p.m. I’ve been to brunch a few times, but my visit with Jaslyn was my first Detroit brunch experience.

After moving to the Detroit area, I noticed this phenomenal culture of brunch. Detroiters love brunching on the weekends! Many restaurants in Detroit and the metro area feature weekend brunch hours on their outdoor marquee or menus. I have seen many people post photographs of their brunch trips in Detroit.

So when I came across Jasyln’s Instagram page, I decided to ask her if we could meet up to talk about brunch. Jasyln happily agreed to an interview and had the perfect idea for our get together: discussing brunch over…BRUNCH!

My vanilla bean waffle at Cafe Muse in Royal Oak. (Photo credit: Jennifer Hamra)

THE MEANING OF BRUNCH

To understand the meaning of brunch, I think it’s first important to define it. Brunch, of course, is the words breakfast and lunch combined. It’s a meal that is served at the midpoint of the day– typically between the hours of 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Why the midpoint of the day? Jaslyn believes the time frame for brunch stems from church culture with Christianity. She tells me Detroit has a large church culture.

“[Detroit has] a huge church culture here,” she explains. “It’s kind of an underlining joke that in every neighborhood you’ll find a church or two or three in a four-corner radius, and you’ll find maybe one or two liquor stores.”

My French Toast brunch meal at La Dolce Vita. (Photo credit: Jennifer Hamra)

BRUNCH IS AN ART.

Jaslyn and I both agree brunch is an art. Just look at any Detroit restaurant’s Instagram page, and you will find asethically pleasing photographs of their best brunch dishes.

“It’s the way in which people cook the eggs. It’s the way in which they complete the sauce,” Jasyln explains. “It’s the way in which they put the eggs on the potatoes. It’s the way the potatoes look.”

Many chefs and restaurants intentionally create beautiful displays of brunch meals even right down to the plate they use for the food!

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WHAT DAYS TO DO BRUNCH

“I think brunch should be every single day,” Jasyln says. We both laugh at what she says. It is very clear she loves her brunch! “I feel like brunch could be an opportunity for you to go every day because everyone has a different schedule.”

There are some restaurants that offer brunch each day of operation, but the majority of places serve brunch on the weekends. Jasyln says for the older generation, people prefer to have brunch on Sundays. Whereas the younger generation likes to have brunch on Saturdays.

Photo credit: Evelyn

COMMON BRUNCH FOODS

Now let’s talk about brunch food staples. Brunch includes sweet and savory foods such as eggs, burgers, and waffles.

“You have your brunch burgers and skillets where you have your egg and your potato,” Jaslyn explains to me. “It kind of goes around that whole good ole American meal where you have your meat and potatoes.”

  • Eggs
  • Bacon, Ham, Sausage, Steak
  • Quiche
  • Hash Browns
  • Croissants, Muffins, Crêpes
  • Smoked Fish or Salmon
  • French Toast, Pancakes, and Waffles
  • Burgers and Sandwiches
  • Fruit and Salad
  • Coffee, Mimosa, and Bloody Mary

Jaslyn says the most popular brunch drinks are a Bellini, Mimosa, and Bloody Mary. Many restaurants also feature bottomless Mimosas and Bloody Marys.

During our brunch visit at La Dolce Vita, Jaslyn ordered bottomless Mimosas. I wasn’t able to drink, though, because I’m still nursing. For non-drinkers like me, you can still enjoy a mocktail with your brunch. Just ask your server for the mocktail options!

Photo credit: Marvin Binnig

BRUNCH IS A FEELING OF COMMUNITY.

For Jaslyn, brunch is a feeling of community and connecting with family and friends. “Whenever I think about being at brunch, not just this aristocracy, it’s this feeling of community,” she tells me.

“You tend to think about spring. You tend to think about the sun. You tend to think it’s mid-morning on a Saturday or Sunday where you’re not really thinking about all the things you need to do. Sometimes plans are created in brunch.”

“When I was in Baltimore and then D.C., it is that long day. It’s like cheers, kind of. It’s like that’s the place that you go when you connect with everyone in the neighborhood.”

Cafe Muse in Royal Oak, MI (Photo credit: Jennifer Hamra)

BRUNCH IS MORE CHILL.

Just as it’s implied in the name, breakfast is fast. You grab a quick bite to eat and then you’re on your way. Jaslyn describes dinner as being more contrived where people have planned to come together for a meal and then afterward go out to their next planned destination. For both breakfast and dinner, there usually isn’t time to chill and take your time eating and visiting with loved ones.

Brunch, on the other hand, is more relaxed. You have more time to connect and enjoy your food. It can sometimes be a long event, ranging from 2 to even 5 hours long. When Jaslyn was in Baltimore and Washington, D.C., she discovered the locals tend to brunch for longer periods of time sometimes making it an all-day affair.

Jaslyn tells me when she thinks of brunch, the phrase “quality time” comes to mind. “[Brunch is] a time when you can hang out with family and friends and spend quality time together. Quality time and how we develop community. A lot of times with social media everyone is like go go go go go, but how do we really connect?

Travis enjoying his pancakes at Cafe Muse. (Photo credit: Jennifer Hamra)

WHAT TO WEAR TO BRUNCH

This is the fun part, in my opinion, because I love creating fashion styles to wear for special events and occasions! Your brunch style all depends on the type of event and the restaurant you are visiting. Style can also depend on what you are doing after you have brunch.

Jaslyn’s favorite spring and summer brunch outfit is a pair of black jeans with a nice, easy top and a low wedge. My favorite brunch outfit is a vintage dress with block heels or chunky sneakers. For the fall and winter, Jaslyn recommends an oversized sweater and leggings or skinny jeans with rider boots.

Left Photo: Vintage dress (similar here) with shoes from Target | Right Photo: Blue dress from Walmart and shoes from DSW

OTHER BRUNCH TRENDS

One thing you can definitely count on is brunch will never go out of style. It will, however, continue to adopt new trends. “It’s almost it’s own revitalization, as far as culture,” Jaslyn says. She believes brunch is becoming trendier with people between the ages of 21 to 32.

Here are a few Detroit brunch trends:

Live Jazz at Brunch. The Detroit Foundation Hotel is very popular for their Jazz Brunch Series. It’s recommended you make reservations in advance because they get very busy!

Detroit Patio Season. Now that the weather is getting warmer, many restaurants are ready to open their patios. La Dolce Vita is known for their beautiful patio experience in the spring and summer months.

Dine with Your Pup. Another big trend is bringing your dog with you to brunch. Locations like Ferndale and Royal Oak are very dog-friendly and many people bring their fur baby to dine with them on the patio. The Jolly Pumpkin and Brooklyn Street Local are both dog-friendly places.

La Dolce Vita (Photo credit: Jennifer Hamra)

As Jaslyn and I wrap up our conversation, Travis pops in to let me know he’ll be waiting for me outside. I introduce him to Jaslyn and we chat very briefly. As Travis leaves, I notice the restaurant has become a little quiet. I look around and see empty tables and servers prepping for the dinnertime rush. Brunch is winding down and La Dolce Vita will close soon.

Looking at the time, I think about how Jaslyn was right: brunch really is a chill time because I didn’t even realize the time went by so quickly. We had spent good time talking about brunch, swapping stories about our experience in Detroit, and enjoying our delicious food. It was definitely fun and I tell Jaslyn I plan on doing brunch again very soon.

Two weeks later, I find myself going on a brunch date with Travis to Cafe Muse in Royal Oak– a restaurant Jaslyn highly recommends for brunching on the weekend.

Travis orders blueberry pancakes and I order the Vanilla Bean Waffle topped with fruit. I think it’s safe to say I am now hooked on Detroit’s brunch culture!

Our brunch meals at Cafe Muse in Royal Oak, MI. (Photo credit: Jennifer Hamra)

DO YOU ENJOY BRUNCHING? WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE PLACES TO DO BRUNCH IN YOUR AREA?


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Feature photo credit: Brooke Lark

What are your thoughts?