CLE Adventure #3: United We Brunched

Sunday, February 7, 2016

I hate to go all brunch-hipster on you, but I've been loving brunch since long before brunch was cool. This is due, in part, to the fact that breakfast is my favorite category of foods but that I'm not usually awake in time for breakfast - which makes brunch the perfect time to indulge without having to get up early. I been eatin' cinnamon pancakes at Bob Evans since before the bougie brunch trend hit it big in every city across the U.S. - but my love for this meal has only increased with the proliferation of its availability.

Enter United We Brunch, a Cleveland Scene-sponsored event (as so many of this city's best events are) at the Galleria downtown. For $35 a ticket, attendees got six drink tickets & three hours of unlimited brunch tastings from more than 45 of Cleveland's best restaurants & other vendors. I bought tickets as a Christmas gift to Mike, though I confess that it was just as much a gift to myself as to him (because unlimited brunch). Our friends Lindsey & Doug joined us, & off we went last Saturday to the most anticipated brunch event of the year.

I don't know what capacity was for this event, but I do know that it sold out pretty quickly & that the Galleria was absolutely full of people. We scored a table in the first-floor rotunda area & called it home base for at least an hour, taking turns grabbing tiny plates of food from & bringing them back for the group to feast upon.

At an event this large, there was, of course, some most excellent people-watching, which is one of my favorite pastimes. I admit that I was fully judgmental of the many attendees who opted to wear brunch-themed T-shirts - some of them matching! - to a brunch-themed event. Isn't that the equivalent of wearing the band's shirt to the concert?! But, hey, do you, Cleveland. As long as there's enough French toast to go around, I'm pretty happy.

In general, I was too busy eating/boozing/enjoying the company to take many photos of the food before I stuffed my face with it, but I did catch a few snaps of a few particularly photogenic favorites.

My favorite dish of the day, smoked brisket with mac & cheese (via Flip Side)

Thick-cut bacon topped with crisp apple - simple but tasty! (via Spice)

Chicken & waffles with gravy (via The South Side) & a tiny bacon-topped Bloody Mary (via Market)

This is bacon cheesecake, you guys. (via The Chocolate Bar)

In other words: delicious. I thought they might run out of food, but most places had enough samples to last right down until the final minutes. As you can see from the examples above, the vendors weren't just phoning it in with basics, either - they really went all-out making creative, decadent miniature meals that showcased the best of their brunch menus. One restaurant even individually wrapped a gabillion tiny breakfast burritos! Needless to say, I've added 20 new places to our ongoing list of places to brunch.

The event was sponsored by Tito's Handmade Vodka, Korbel sparkling wine, & Pope's Kitchen Bloody Mary mix, which meant the drinks were top-notch... if you could get 'em. Unfortunately, my least favorite aspect of the event was how damn difficult it was to snag drinks, given how long the lines were - & they did not move quickly. I started with six drink tickets & ended with three of them, much to my disappointment. (I know, I look super disappointed in this photo.)

The booze we did acquire, though, was enough to make for some fun, low-key day-drinking, & when the event ended, we walked to East 4th Street to keep the party going (sans food, because we were stuffed) at Flannery's Irish Pub.

Later, there was pizza from Crust & our first trip to the weird but wonderful local townie bar Hotz Cafe. Though I'm now well into my thirties, it was a day that, overall, felt reminiscent of college (in a good way, not in a falling-down-drunk way). It was joyful, busy, high-energy, indulgent... the kind of day adults don't get too often, you know? Mike & I kept our energy up, our spirits high, & our drinks down from 11am to 9pm... & then finally dragged ourselves home, where we proceeded to sleep for a full 12 hours.

Needless to say, we truly brought justice to the phrase "brunch so hard" - & now any weekend that doesn't include smoked brisket mac & cheese is probably going to feel like a disappointment.

Check out my other Cleveland adventures, which so far include drinking with dinosaurs & exploring an historic cemetery - &, of course, stay tuned for more to come!

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