Oh my God, you guys. On our recent trip to Boston during July 4th weekend, we decided to go get some brunch at the North Street Grille after some researching. It was easily one of the best brunches that we have ever had. The menu is à la carte, so no unlimited buffets or unlimited drinks here. But it doesn’t even matter. I dare you to try to finish one of North Street Grille’s massive entrées.
From our research, we knew that there would be a long wait for a table, so we tried calling ahead and making a reservation. Unfortunately, we had a party of 5, and reservations are only taken for parties of 6 or more. Remember this. We ended up waiting outside (the place is tiny!) for about an hour and 15 minutes for our table. Every time the hostess came out to announce a new party being seated, our hopes were immediately raised and then unceremoniously dashed.
It might actually go quicker normally, but it was the hostess’ first day on the job. I had read that the wait was astronomically long and that they lie to you about how long it will actually be. They did tell us that the wait would be about 20-30 minutes at first. So, that’s probably true. But, I’m telling you about this wait because it was so. worth. the. wait. I would have waited 2 hours if I had to, in retrospect. We busied ourselves with conversation and reviewing their menu online, so that we would be ready to rock as soon as we sat down.
Pro-Tip #1: If you are not a morning person, go get a coffee before you show up to put your name down and wait in line. It will be a while, and you don’t want to miss your name being called or have an incomplete party when your number is up.
Okay, so we finally got inside after our massive wait and were shown to our booth. The interior of this place is TINY, as I said, so it makes sense that the wait is long because it’s so popular. This might not be a spot to take elderly relatives, because of the wait and the size of the place. I wouldn’t think someone with a wheelchair would comfortably get around inside. But, you can always call ahead and ask.
Their brunch menu is massive and is a gluttonous symphony of comfort food and imaginative takes on traditional dishes. Before I get into what we ordered, I’m just going to throw this out there – we were starving, we love to eat, and our eyes are always bigger than our stomachs.
Of course, we started with a carafe of regular mimosas (although special fruit flavors are on the menu, too) and a round of coffees. The coffee wasn’t great, which was sad because we were all so caffeine-deprived that it was crucial. The rest of the meal made up for it. In spades.
So, we started with two appetizers for 5 people to share. It was probably a little much. But, would YOU be able to resist something called “Boston Cream Pie French Toast Sticks“? I don’t think so. We couldn’t, anyway. The french toast sticks were fried after being injected with custard and then came with a decadent chocolate dipping sauce, then topped with sliced fresh strawberries and a light dusting of powdered sugar. The outsides were crispy and hot and the inside melted in your mouth. It was phenomenal and unique. Plus, one must have Boston cream pie when one visits Boston. This is a really cool way to do that.
Then, we moved on to the Banana Nutella Sliders, which came on warm, mini croissants. They were pretty big and we split them all in half to share. Warm, gooey and delicious, they were just as awesome as they sounded. We were full. Unfortunately (well, not really), we still had our entrees on the way. Le sigh.
We are not quitters, so we did what had to be done: we ate as much as humanly possible of our amazing entrées. Mom-in-law and I both had the “Benedict in Bed“, which is french toast stuffed with ham and cheese, then topped with a poached egg and covered in rich Hollandaise sauce. It’s not exactly what you’d call “heart-healthy”. But, I was doing enough damage to my body this weekend, so I wasn’t about to pump the brakes at brunch, now, was I?
Hubs had the Lobster Benedict – which is exactly what it sounds like – Eggs Benedict but with lobster meat instead of ham. A lot of lobster meat, actually. It was pretty tasty.
Pops-in-law went for the classic eggs and bacon and added a pancake and some loaded hash browns. I should take a minute and have a moment for the hash browns. You can add cheese, peppers and onions (or some combo of the 3). So, you should probably do that. Because this is America. And we don’t go small. We go big or we go home.
However, the star of the show (and arguably the one that would inspire the most terror in the heart of any diabetic) is the Banana Bourbon French Toast. It’s basically a loaf of french toast, covered in syrupy brown sugar-bourbon reduction and tastes like Bananas Foster. If you want to hate yourself, you could try to finish the whole thing. But, I wouldn’t recommend it. This rich, sweet treat should be shown the respect that it deserves and shared with others. Plus, you probably won’t be able to stop the incoming forks trying to steal it off your plate, anyway. At least, our friend Sarah wasn’t.
The service was great and our waitress was quick and helpful once we were sitting. The poor woman was probably a saint for dealing with people who were starving by the time they sat down. She kept our coffees full, our silverware clean and our napkins fresh, so she gets an A+ in my book.
With enormous portions, I would recommend sharing 2 entrees between 3 people and getting the french toast sticks (regular, Banana or Boston Cream) to start. But, if you can’t decide, don’t worry. The prices are reasonable and they accept credit cards so you can go “all out” without worrying too much. We should have been tipped off that the dishes were huge when we saw the chalkboard wall which listed the members of the “Clean Plate Club” – which our server explained was a joke started by a regular customer that just caught on recently.
We asked for the bill and it was actually brought to us on a small electronic tablet for confirmation. No paper bills here. We swiped our cards and settled up, then hobbled out, bellies full and blood sugar high, ready to take in the afternoon Red Sox game at Fenway Park.
How to get to North Street Grille
The North Street Grille is an easy walk from the busy Faneuil Hall/Quincy Market area and is in the North End just a block from the Paul Revere House. There’s not much else on the block (including take-away coffee) within a 2 minute walk, so get a cup on the way.
PRO-TIP #2: THIS IS A GREAT LOCATION IF YOU PLAN TO SPEND THE EARLY AFTERNOON STROLLING THE NORTH END, STARTING WITH THE FREEDOM TRAIL OVER AT The PAUL REVERE HOUSE, JUST A BLOCK AWAY.
North Street Grille
229 North Street
Boston, MA 02113
Hours: Open Wednesday-Sunday 8am – 8pm (during summer – check with the restaurant directly during fall through spring), Closed Monday and Tuesday
Phone: (617) 720-2010
Have you stuffed your face at another amazing brunch spot in Boston? Tell me about it!