You know when you have worked a long and hard week filled with late hours, crowded commutes and general isolation from your day-in-day-out life? It can be a little much. By the time the weekend hits, you are ready for a little reconnection, a little “we time.” Enter the ubiquitous weekend brunch. It’s one of the best ways to get together with family and friends, kvetch a little about work and hear what else is happening outside of your immediate sphere.

Now, I love some brunch, but I must admit, I don’t have it that often. It could be that I’d rather cook it myself, but mostly I don’t want to be disappointed with the same-old, same-old and a meal for which you sometimes have to pay upwards of $30. That is not hot in the streets for me!

Yes, brunch should have the expected dishes, both savory and sweet, that patrons can safely call for while hiding their bloodshot eyes behind sunglasses, clutching two aspirin and reaching for the glass of tap water on the table all at the same time (you know who you are). However, brunch should also have a signature twist, something that makes you stop and take note before devouring it.

So when my most recent brunch moments proved to be an awesome surprise, I knew I must share them with you. I have covered both of these Harlem restaurants previously for other meals some time ago, but thankfully it is their brunch that pulled me back in and for which I will return again.

My recent return to Flat Top (@FlatTopNYC, 1241 Amsterdam Ave., 646-820-7735, after a Saturday night “Dr. Who” sleepover with my handsome, matured-palated nephews brought some brunch nirvana to all, including my vegan brother. This chore is no easy task, traditionally assigned to the food professional in the family.

Thankfully, Flat Top rose to meet our needs, starting with the complimentary house-made cinnamon rolls. Just go for those! I saved my brother’s for my post-meal enjoyment. The boys had blueberry buttermilk ricotta pancakes, eggs and chicken apple sausage and my bro got a vegan burger with a kale “bun.” For me, it had to be shrimp and grits! Organic South Carolina heirloom stone-ground grits with jumbo shrimp, cheddar, double smoked bacon topped with two sunny side eggs (#runnyyolk!) and chipotle honey—boom! It was everything and a bag of grits! I might have them put the chipotle honey on the side next time as it was a little sweet for me, but baaaa-byyy, I am coming back!

The other return was to the French restaurant Barawine (@BarawineHarlem, 200 Lenox Ave., 646-756-4154, My good friend Katrina raves about their Sunday brunch, specifically the best homefries she has had, so we ventured there for an early afternoon post-production meal.

Katrina was right—the homefries at Barawine were delicious, and her and my colleagues’ Benedict eggs with light hollandaise hit the spot. However, my nicoise salad was the star with lightly seared ahi tuna over the traditional ingredients and butter lettuce with the most divine mustard vinaigrette. I savored every bite. C’est magnifique! Next time though—and there will be a next time—more Prosecco than orange juice in the mimosa carafe, s’il vous plait! Merci beaucoup!

So next time the workweek gets tough, hold out for the weekend and brunch it out!

Happy eating and thanks for reading!

Kysha Harris is a food writer, culinary producer, consultant and owner of SCHOP!, a personalized food service offering weekly and in-home entertaining packages. Questions? Comments? Requests? Feedback? Invitations? Email her at, follow her on Twitter and Instagram @SCHOPgirl and on Facebook For even more recipes, tips and food musings, subscribe to her blog at