Battle of the Lake Area Brunches

We’re approaching that glorious time of year when the breakfast-lunch mash-up is the center of attention.
Coalition’s enchilada and eggs, with a corpse reviver cocktail.

For special occasions like Easter or Mother’s Day, sleep-in days or any old day that calls for a whoppin’ stack of late-morning pancakes, this bunch of brunches will do the trick.

Al & Alma’s Supper Club
Yes, it’s primarily a supper club and boat charter company. But this lakeside spot does it up right, officially kicking off the Sunday brunch season aboard its yachts on Mother’s Day. Choose from two levels—the upstairs loft and the main dining room—for a perch overlooking Lake Minnetonka, and top off the Mother’s Day dry-land mimosa-fest with an optional boat ride. Or choose to do the whole shebang on the lake, dining as you watch the scenery go by.

The buffet menu includes traditional entrees, like the crowd favorite eggs Benedict, house-made salads, made-to-order Belgian waffles, homemade caramel rolls, fresh fruit and more. “We’re really good at doing the same stuff. We’re about maintaining a high-quality experience,” says general manager Jay Soule. “We’re a destination. We’re on the way to—well, us! And we continue to build on a 60-year legacy, offering an amazing brunch on the nicest boats on the lake.”

Things to note: Al & Alma’s can accommodate groups up to 24; book early if you’re bringing a crowd. An Easter egg hunt takes place at the park across from the restaurant, so stick around.

The new player in town, Coalition brings an industrial chic vibe to Excelsior, within a charming, 120-year-old building. There’s a limited but well-executed menu—with a focus on lunch and dinner—and weekend brunches bring a touch of wow to traditional fare.

The vibe at brunch, according to owner and executive chef Eli Wollenzien, tends to be “much more fast-paced and upbeat.” Coalition doesn’t have televisions, and “people enjoy that,” he says. “We get people who are trying to avoid places with televisions blaring. They come here to enjoy people—and great food.”

On the morning menu, you’ll find locally sourced ham, bacon and turkey sausage. Neighboring Patisserie Margo supplies the breads, and fresh-made cheddar biscuits star in breakfast sandwiches and the biscuit Benedict—
a decadent take with ham, poached egg, hollandaise and country hashbrowns. The enchilada and eggs includes braised pork and poached eggs topped with queso fresco, charred corn, crème fraiche and cilantro. A corpse reviver, bloody Mary and peach bellini top the list of beverages.

“Lots of people get started with the sugar cardamom donut,” says Wollenzien, stopping to note the signature pastry that’s become a crowd favorite, even among other delicious sweet treats. “That’s a must.”

Things to note: Coalition can accommodate groups up to 15 at its community table. It’s not a huge place, so Wollenzien recommends lots of lead time for brunch reservations, which peak for holidays.

Hazellewood Grill
Hazellewood has become a staple of the local brunch scene, with the Gouda hashbrowns a main attraction. On Easter and Mother’s Day, an all-out buffet takes the place of the regular brunch menu, with a lot of the year-round favorites making cameo appearances in smaller portion sizes and self-serve formats. There’s a made-to-order omelet station and a carving station where guests can choose prime rib, ham or turkey. Try a few trademark dishes—like the pecan-crusted walleye—or save room for shrimp and oysters.

General manager DeDe Conkey knows the Hazellewood menu better than anyone. When she has a chance to sit down for leisurely brunch—which happens rarely—she’s guaranteed to start with a mimosa and coffee. She goes for a fresh salad and some shrimp—and then she’s all in on the Gouda. “I’m really not a breakfast person. But I’d definitely save room for a mini banana cream pie, a cheesecake or a tiramisu,” says Conkey. “We have a beautiful array of tiny desserts.”

Things to note: Hazellewood can seat up to 15 together, and groups are accommodated on a first-come, first-served basis. Conkey recommends calling two months out for group reservations. Kids 6 and under eat free, and seniors are half-price.

Bacio strikes a perfect balance of class and comfort. Familiar foods are given an interesting twist. The décor is upscale yet approachable. And the mix has rightfully drawn a huge following in Minnetonka.

Here, brunch is a focus all year round, with fresh-squeezed juices and blood orange mimosas playing a nice complement to savory and sweet entrees. One of the stars? The breakfast risotto. It has local ham, sausage and bacon with a gooey, cheddar cheese center, house-made harissa and poached eggs. “It’s ridiculous,” says general manager Sue Birchhill. The beignets are also a fan-favorite, fried and tossed in vanilla-scented cinnamon sugar. “They’re great with coffee,” says Birchhill. The coffee, by the way, is a special Morningstar roast designed especially to work with the local water. Birchhill says she no longer drinks any other.

Bacio closes on Easter, but the already-huge Mother’s Day buffet has been expanded this year. You’ll see a carving station with prime rib, a seafood station with Ahi tuna crisps, shrimp cocktail and more. Or ask for a made-to-order eggs Benedict—done three ways—or the famous risotto. And if it’s your thing, the extra-spicy bloody Mary is exceptional.

Things to note: Book three to four weeks out for peak times or large groups. Bacio can accommodate up to 14 at the largest table.