Even if you disagree on whether to have it late in the morning or early in the afternoon, brunch is surely one of the best parts of modern-day food culture.
Not quite breakfast, not quite lunch, the late morning to mid-afternoon tradition of Sunday brunch has existed in some form since the end of the 19th century. Kicking off in England in the 1890s, this culinary contender to breakfast has continued to grow in popularity. More than 100 years ago, long before anyone waited in line to feast on eggs Benedict and fluffy French toast, the word brunch appeared in print for the first time in the United States.
"The latest 'fad' is to issue invitations for a meal called 'brunch... a repast at 11 o'clock am," a column in the New Oxford, an old Pennsylvania newspaper, reported in 1896. Originally conceived for the wealthy as a drawn-out, elaborate affair, brunch, like a soft boiled egg, soon oozed out into the mainstream. By the 1960s brunch's popularity gave rise to specific cookbooks, and by the 1990s we were all brunching on Saturdays as well as Sundays.
Now brunch has become international and more popular than ever. The story of brunch is the story of changing patterns of how we eat, live, and interact. Brunch also offers a form of refined celebration that proves particularly acceptable on holidays like Easter, Christmas, and Mother's Day, and gave rise to traditions like American imports the bridal or baby shower brunch. The past decade in particular has seen increased hype for the meal that has been a part of society for over a century, yet always seems to be trendy.
The origins of brunch are a little foggy. Some say it comes from the Catholic tradition of fasting before mass and then sitting down to a large dinner on the Sunday afternoon. Others profess it originated from English 'hunt breakfasts' of olden times where lavish meals were presented after the shooting party had returned from a morning hunt. The alleged founder of brunch, a man called Guy Beringer, claimed that brunch simply “happened” naturally as a result of lie-ins after an alcohol-fuelled evening of partying. The English writer first proposed the idea for the mixed meal in his 1895 essay “Brunch: A Plea”. In it, Beringer defended those nursing their Sunday morning hangovers, pushing breakfast back a few hours gave ample time for everyone to recover from the after-effects of excessive drinking.
Within a brunch itself, choice is king. Traditional brunches might consist of coffee, tea, fruit juices. It may including pancakes, waffles, and french toast; meats such as ham, bacon and sausages; egg dishes such as scrambled eggs, omelettes and fritatas; bread products such as toast, bagels or croissants, pastries or cakes. Mexican mixes of salsa and eggs on fajitas, or Italian meats and breads all are welcome on the metropolitan brunch table these days.
Walk around any large town at the weekend and brunch will be served by lots of establishments, many putting their own twist on this old favourite. Walk around Dominick Street and the Westend of Galway and you will be served an exemplary brunch any day of the week at Dela. In an area of the city that is home to many of our best eateries, Dela is owned and run by local couple Joe and Margaret Bohan and sandwiched between barbecue king Creole on one side and the Michelin-starred Aniar on the other. The dining room is lovely and bright with clean, simple lines and wooden tables dressed with pretty herbs and flowers. Margaret is graciousness personified and is nearly always on hand to greet the guests herself at front of house.
Of course, Dela do dinner as well but it is for brunch that they have become best known. In their early days of opening, their weekend brunch had all old the favourites along with some more unusual items, like sourdough toast with cheddar and marmalade and affogatos, bellinis and bloody Marys. Now that brunch is a week long event they have buttermilk pancakes topped with smoked streaky rashers and organic maple syrup, for something more savoury there is the vegetarian herb green falafel wrap salad, sundried tomato, and tahini yogurt spread, or the eggs Benedict, poached eggs with hollandaise on sourdough or brown bread served with smoked salmon or bacon. For those that love a sambo or wrap there is the famous and indulgent braised beef cheek melt with celeriac and dill remoulade, Bellingham blue cheese and rosemary jus served on sourdough bread that will more than fill the void, or the brunch burrito with scrambled egg, home fries, and coriander and lime salsa, not forgeting the jalapeños. They still like to turn it up a notch at the weekends with inventive specials like boiled eggs with lamb belly soldiers. Even the fry is made extra special with eggs from the farm when Dela's own hens are laying. Dela Restaurant and farm pursues a sustainable ideal that allows this West End restaurant to support the local economy and community and to produce creative food across all of its menus. The addition of a polytunnel, Joe's domain, means that in spring, summer, and onwards, Dela Farm will be supplying the restaurant with most of its vegetables, herbs, and salad needs.
Dela is a solid performer with a loyal band of regulars. The brunch and dinner menus offer real value for money for such good quality food. Over the last few years Dela has grown to be one of Galway's best loved restaurants. The perfect place to enjoy the most popular meal of the day. Dela Restaurant, 51 Lower Dominick Street, Galway. Tel: (091 ) 449252.