It’s time we said what we believe. And you might not like it. If this offends you, we’re sorry. But we need to get it off our chest.
Brunch is dumb.
It’s dumb to pay $17 for two eggs. It’s dumb to wait an hour to eat said $17 eggs when you could cook them at home in one-twelfth of that time. It’s dumb to take pictures of said $17 eggs and put them on social media as if you should be congratulated for waiting for, paying for, and eating those eggs.
So when you find a place that makes brunch feel significantly less dumb, it means something. Esme is one of those places.
This is a neighborhood spot through-and-through. At peak brunch times, you might encounter a short wait, but never long enough to give you the usual soul-sucking feeling that there are about 137 better things you could be doing with your Saturday. The space is light and bright - “cute” enough that you feel like a productive member of society even if you’re so hungover you can’t form sentences, but laid-back enough that you can wallow in your hangover without judgment. When it’s warm, there’s even a covered back patio that beats any wobbly-table sidewalk situation any day.
As for the food: it’s good. The pancakes are killer, the eggs are always cooked how you ask, and there’s homemade granola and a solid avocado toast and a fried chicken sandwich. And cocktails. Also important: prices are what you actually feel good about paying (nothing is over $14). The food, plus the aforementioned easy elements of Esme might not seem special at first glance - but all of these things combine to make one of the least stupid brunches around.
So is Esme revolutionary? Depends on how much you think a not-dumb brunch is a revolution in itself.
Not special: avocado toast. Very special: not one, but two big slices of toast, tons of avocado, pickled onions and a poached egg you don't even have to pay extra for. $12 gets you a dish that actually makes you full. Imagine.
Another toast, but the kind you'll want to order if you're either still drunk from last night or the kind of person who goes for ten-mile runs on Saturday mornings. Thick slices of french toast covered in tomato-braised kale, eggs, and parmesan. Whatever your mental/emotional state, you probably won't be able to finish this.
A truly exemplary stack of pancakes. These are thin (but not too thin), golden brown, and a non-optional order for the table. Add blueberries.
If you're someone who orders this kind of thing at brunch, we might not share the same human makeup but you still deserve to know that Esme's housemade granola is excellent.
One of our only real complaints about Esme is their burger. If you need to put a meat sandwich in your mouth, this will do you fine, but it's not a standout by any means. Adding pork belly definitely doesn't hurt.
If you're wondering whether Esme serves meals other than brunch, the answer is yes. The simple American food (the steak is a highlight) and pretty space makes for a good low-key dinner or lunch, but we'll always think of Esme as a brunch restaurant above all.