I recently found myself having to defend my anti-brunch position to an Englishman who disagreed with me vehemently in spite of the fact that we were sitting yards from a mound of material evidence that amply supported my case: A dilapidated buffet.
(Said Englishman also likes to rouse this American by taking credit on behalf of his country for having “invented” the United States of America. I know.)
A mere week later I was forced to reconsider my hardline, unilateral stance while sitting under a shelf stacked with jars of Marmite, enjoying perfect scones and waiting for my eggs, bacon, and roast tomatoes (to-mah-toes?) at Le Bal Café.
It turns out that the Brits did invent brunch, or at least the word, and now two former Rose Bakery cooks are working on perfecting it at Le Bal. Scones, yes, plus kippers, kedgeree, pancakes, porridge and Welsh rarebit, not to mention tête de cochon on toast and a boudin noir terrine.
“Real bacon,” sighed my friend Phyllis happily, cutting into a curly slice. I pierced the shimmering yolks of my eggs and mopped up the mess with toast. If only all brunches were this good.
I’d go back, too, not just for the food, but for one of the best cappucinos I’ve had outside of Italy, crafted by an American barista. Coffee lovers take note.
Alas, when what seemed to be a busload of people arrived and were practically breathing on the perfect cheesecake Phyllis and I were savoring, I was reminded of one of the main reasons I avoid brunch: The crowds. If you agree with me then get to Le Bal early or risk having your foot rolled over by a stroller.
(That’s pram to you, Englishman.)
Le Bal Café 6 impasse de la Défense, Paris 75018, +33 (0)1 44 70 75 51. Weds-Sat 10 am – 11 pm, Sun 10 am – 7 pm.