Students seem to forget that Usdan is not the only on-campus option for brunch. True, it is delicious, and there are few things more exciting in life than a made-to-order omelette or ice cream at 11 AM. Like everyone else, we’re big fans of Usdan brunch. That being said, don’t forget about all the other delicious breakfast and brunch options, both on and off campus.

 On Campus

WesWings: What?! WesWings serves brunch??? Yes. You read this correctly. In fact, after tasting the delicious cuisine at WesWings brunch, many students never go back to Usdan. Like their lunch and dinner style, you order at the counter, pay with points, and they call your name through a microphone when your food is ready. It’s available on Saturday and Sunday mornings throughout the semester. Menu items change regularly, however; you can expect egg dishes like huevos rancheros, omelettes (that you don’t have to wait 40 minutes for!), at least one sweet selection (like french toast or pancakes), a bagel entree, a hot cereal-like choice like oatmeal served with fruit, and a typical American breakfast plate, with bacon and sausage, hashbrowns, etc. We strongly recommend ordering the “breakfast pail” if it’s on the menu. This delightful meal includes eggs, shredded potatoes, cheese, and bacon or sausage, layered on top of each other in a Chinese take out box.

Red and Black: This place is such a Wesleyan staple. Their sandwiches are delish, their hot selections and soups are always fresh and appetizing, their smoothies are made with real fruit and yogurt (making it the only genuine fruit smoothie on campus), and their cookies and desserts are some of the best on campus. But did you know that Red and Black also serves breakfast sandwiches all day every day as well as some really solid weekend brunch options? The menu is very similar (almost exactly the same) to WesWings. Expect dishes like eggs, make your own omelette, oatmeal, and pancakes.

Usdan Cafe: I stumbled upon the breakfast options at the Usdan Cafe by accident. It was a Saturday morning around 10:00, and I had just gotten out of crew practice. Ravenous, I went into Usdan, hoping that if I arrived an hour early, I’d be the first on the omelette line. As I sat and waited, I noticed that the Usdan Cafe was offering some interesting breakfast items. I pushed aside dreams of eggs, and opted instead for a banana parfait. This sweet treat included fresh bananas, peanut butter, an angel food cake-textured item, and banana pudding. Okay, maybe it’s not the healthiest breakfast, but if you just can’t wait till 11:00, or you’ve been cursed with the deadly hangover sweet tooth, it’s definitely a good alternative to Usdan brunch! They also have Chobani yogurts, satisfying yogurt parfaits, and light sandwiches.

Off Campus

 O’Rourke’s: O’Rourke’s is probably the most famous restaurant in Middletown. People come from far and wide to go to this very established diner, so be prepared for a line, especially on the weekends. O’Rourke’s success can be attributed to its irresistible charm. The restaurant is tiny, probably not seating more than 30 people. After the long wait, the servers welcome you to your table by giving you a flower, and a little amuse bouche: a few pieces of their freshly made bread or muffins to hold you over until your main dish arrives. The menu is heavily influenced by the owner’s Irish heritage, so expect dishes like Irish soda bread french toast, bangers wrapped in pancakes, and several different varieties of hash (which were even featured on the Food Network program “Diners Drive-Ins, and Dives”). Don’t stress too much about what you end up choosing, we guarantee that everything is delicious, but we’re somewhat partial to the egg dishes, especially the many variations of eggs benedict. At some point during your four years at Wesleyan, it’s absolutely essential that you check this place out for a truly unique dining experience.

Athenian Diner: Athenian diner is one of the best reasons to get/find a friend with a car. It’s only about a 2 minute drive away, but because it’s on a fairly busy road, we wouldn’t recommend walking, especially if it’s 1:00 AM on a Saturday and you’re in desperate need of a tuna melt and milkshake (which we often are). Athenian is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They serve typical American breakfast fare at very reasonable prices. Nothing about the food or ambiance is particularly fascinating, but if you’re looking for a quality breakfast, and you don’t want to brave the line at O’Rourke’s, this is definitely a great option.

Ford News Diner: Ford News Diner is a bit of a hidden gem. Not incredibly popular among the Wesleyan community, this quintessential Middletown establishment serves up solid breakfast foods in an endearing neighborhood environment. You can expect all the breakfast classics, like eggs, pancakes, oatmeal, and breakfast sandwiches, as well as friendly staff, and tons of juicy gossip on what’s going on in Middletown.

Brewbakers/Javapalooza/New England Emporium: Why did I group these places together? I would recommend different menu items at all of them, but that you go to them for the same reason. If you’re not in a “breakfast” or “brunch” mood, and are simply looking for a place where you can sit down with your textbooks and spend a couple of hours, try one of these. They all do a great job with breakfast. Here’s the rundown…

Brewbakers- I think Brewbakers has the best bagels in Middletown. They also have very popular breakfast sandwiches. My go-to is a cheddar cheese bagel with chive cream cheese, capers, and smoked salmon.

Javapalooza- Java is under new ownership, (we hope to get an exclusive interview soon). We have yet to try it since the change, however we’ve heard that most of the old menu items are still available. Go for a more indulgent, less gourmet crepe, be it sweet or savory. Nothing at Javapalooza is a total masterpiece. In fact, the food often seems like an afterthought when compared to the cool ambiance, with a very young staff and old records and concert posters hanging on the walls. The new owner seems incredibly enthusiastic, so it’ll be interesting to see how the restaurant has changed since she took over.

New England Emporium- The Emporium has the biggest range of breakfast items. You can get anything from a more traditional breakfast sandwich to an omelette to a bowl of oatmeal to a crepe. Overwhelmed? You can’t really go wrong with their breakfast crepes (especially the Parisian). They’re served with a fantastic dish of crispy shredded potatoes, and make a very filling and fun breakfast that will keep you full well into the afternoon. I’d recommend staying all day, and sipping on one of their smoothies when you finally get hungry again.

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Did I miss anything? What are your favorite breakfast/brunch spots in Middletown? Comment!

 

-Ari Rudess