Sitting alone at a window-side bar table at 10 a.m. on a Sunday morning, I feared I would have to wait until kingdom come for my Sunday brunch.
Friends had warned me that Raleigh's Tupelo Honey Cafe—tucked into the ground floor of a literally brick, metaphorically beige apartment building near Cameron Village for the last year—was always slammed on weekends. To avoid waiting an hour to be seated, let alone eat, I should arrive early, they said.
In my particular social circles, food before noon on a Sunday is sacrilege—not because of Jesus, mind you, but because our antiquated blue laws won't let you have a mimosa or Bloody Mary. And isn't brunch just an excuse for the dawn of day drinking?
On this particular Sabbath, though, I bypassed the booze and focused on the Southern breakfast, touted as a specialty of this Asheville-based chain of a dozen restaurants. Stomach growling, head still foggy, I passed the time by marveling at a homey patio—vintage string lights, comfy pillowy chairs, wooden tables, lush greenery—that ran the length of the restaurant along Oberlin Road. "Have cocktails on this patio at the first sign of spring," I told myself, "even if you don't like the food."
But did I like the food?
Brunch, yes. Dinner the night before with several companions? Well, it's complicated.