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Aquitaine: South End Brunch with Style

One of my favorite ways to spend a Sunday is by having a leisurely brunch. The idea of getting up at the very decent hour of 11a.m. and lingering over coffee, waffles, eggs and bacon is a great deal more appealing to me than trudging across campus on my way to study group at 7a.m. with a cold bagel. The only problem with Sunday brunch is that most places do not take reservations, and I inevitably like to turn up during the peak hours of 11a.m. – 2p.m. (I figure it maximizes the amount of time I can sleep in and still arrive early enough to justify eating brunch as opposed to lunch.)

As we neared our brunch destination for this particular weekend, we spotted a large crowd milling about the sidewalk in front of a trendy French bistro.

“This must be the place,” grumbled my dining buddy who is an early bird and is always trying to convince me that 9a.m. is the perfect time to eat brunch and avoid the crowds (an argument he has yet to win with me). Luckily, the charming host assured us that the wait wouldn’t be longer than 20 minutes and we settled into our routine of perusing the menu while telepathically sending signals to seated patrons to eat faster.

Half an hour later, we were rewarded with a seat in the front of the restaurant and happily settled into our warm banquette which was flooded with sunlight. Aquitaine is a Parisian-inspired bistro located in Boston’s South End. The restaurant is decorated with vintage posters, dark rich woods and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking historic Tremont Street. I was content to relax into the comfortable din of conversation that filled the restaurant and sip my Mimosa martini ($7.50; Grey Goose L’Orange, Grand Marnier, champagne and orange juice), but my hungry dining buddy was focused on food. I ordered two fried eggs “creole” ($10.95), which came with a side of spicy andouille sausage, seven-grain toast and home fries. The eggs were fried to perfection with the yolks being a little bit runny. The home fries, flecked with melting bits of sweet caramelized onion, were a welcome twist on the common breakfast hash browns.

My dining buddy pronounced his omelet basquaise ($7.95) filled with ham, Gruyere cheese and parsley, to be very fluffy and flavorful. The only disappointing dish was a side of fresh fruit and berries ($3.95) which ended up being honeydew melon, strawberries and halved grapes sprinkled with icing sugar. I had been hoping for a more interesting mixture than what I ate everyday at the Spangler salad bar. However, I would certainly take a cup of Aquitaine’s well-brewed strong hot coffee over most of the coffee served on the HBS campus any day.

On our way out of the restaurant, we noticed an incoming group proudly bypass the hungry crowd and declare to the host that they had reservations. To my delight, Aquitaine does indeed accept reservations for weekend brunch for any party size. The Saturday brunch is an especially good value for a prix fixe of $9.95, offering warm cinnamon buns, your choice of main course, juice and unlimited coffee.

Other brunch   la carte options include delicious sounding brioche French toast with caramelized pear compote and applewood smoked bacon, buttermilk Belgian waffles with Chantilly cream, and various savory dishes such as a pressed ham and gruyere croque monsieur.

A stylishly comfortable restaurant on a picturesque street with interesting food and reservations for brunch-Aquitaine is certainly worth your weekend time.

Aquitaine:
Brunch for two: ~ $30
569 Tremont Street
(at Clarendon Street;
take the T Orange Line to Back Bay)
617-424-8577

October 17, 2005
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