On a Sunday morning at Bruno's, the bar is almost unrecognizable from the night before. Where herds of Mission hipsters once lined the bar waiting to order drinks and bumping on the dance floor, the space is now sparse and a bit hungover, filled with clear voices and a communal end-of-the-weekend vibe. The night life is out, and Brunch Drunk Love is in.
The pop-up brunch service occurs every Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., a project from former Mission Beach Cafe Chef (and Top Chef alum) Ryan Scott. A long bar spans the length of the front room, lined with stools on either side. You may be sitting next to your best friend or a complete stranger, but you're all passing the silverware jar around either way. On the opposite side of the room from the bar are a handful of two- and four-seater tables, where occupants enthusiastically savor the last day of nine-to-five freedom with coffee, pancakes and eggs.
And cocktails. Since Bruno's has a well-stocked bar, you won't find any soju-spiked drinks here; the restaurant offers the real deal. The Mission Mary ($9) will wake up your taste buds immediately, thanks to a generous amount of pepper flavor (spicy food wimps, skip it). Coffee mugs are big enough to hold with two hands, establishing a cozy theme that runs throughout the meal.
Comfort food is the specialty at Brunch Drunk Love, no doubt. Kick off the meal with a selection of starters, or "munchies and bites." The Warm Spiced Brioche Donuts ($6) are just about perfect in texture -- soft, cake-like and sugar-dusted on the outside, but doughy and a little chewy on the inside. They come with two dipping sauces: a cinnamon-chocolate variety, which is extremely thick and dense, with a hint of liqueur flavor; and a buttery, mildly flavored cardamom custard. Truth be told, the donuts taste best with no sauce at all.
Other snacks include the Mac & Cheese Spring Rolls ($6.50), two rice papers filled with macaroni and cheese and presumably deep-fried. It sounds greasy -- and true, a couple of bites is enough to satisfy -- but the rolls are surprisingly flavorful, filled with sharp, not creamy, cheese to cut the starch. The cream comes into play with the Cholula fondue dipping sauce -- again, an arguably unnecessary addition to a dish so flavorful and rich on its own.
And yes, those were just the starters. To satisfy your sweet tooth, try the Sweet Potato Waffle ($12), topped with pomegranate seeds, thinly sliced persimmons, sweet butter and syrup. The waffles taste only subtly of sweet potatoes, but the seasonal fruit is a delicious touch; their tartness shines against the sweet syrup. The result is a perfect sweet-tart balance that makes waffles -- usually overly sweet, overly syrupy and overly-powdered sugar-y -- bright and fresh.
The Pumpkin Pancakes ($13) are also a wonderful choice. Pumpkin brings a soft texture to the cakes, but the black pepper pecans sprinkled on top are the real standout here. While the pepper brings the spice, a bourbon bacon marmalade brings a savory tartness, so you get just a little bit of every taste. We had you at bourbon bacon marmalade, right?
For savory entrees, try the Benedict ($14), two original stacks of English muffins, ample piles of sauteed wild mushrooms and fresh herbs. In this dish, the herbs aren't just for color or garnish; tarragon dominates, creating a nice complement to the earthy mushrooms. Piles of lightly dressed mixed greens counter the dense, rich hollandaise sauce (which is apparently flavored with celery root, though it's undetectable).
The Old School Style Pork Confit Hash ($15.50) is just as decadent -- clearly, pleasure is the theme here. The hash itself is very flavorful and not too fatty, if a little salty, with poached eggs and a black garlic hollandaise to top it off. Braised kale and baby carrots add a little freshness to the mix, as does simple, toasted bread -- a welcome sponge for all the goodness.
The restaurant offers a selection of appealing sandwiches, too, if you can resist the brunch fare. And if you've saved room for dessert, you have a few more options. The Snak Pak ($5) offers a fun throwback, with a spiced whoopie pie (gingerbread, maybe?) and a homemade twinkie. The whoopie pie is everything you want it to be: chewy, soft and spiced, bursting with holiday flavors. The twinkie is basically just a yellow cake with a tiny bit of cream filling, but it's still fun to order a homemade twinkie at a restaurant.
In fact, fun is the bottom line at Brunch Drunk Love. From the booze and donuts to the bourbon bacon marmalade and whoopie pies, it's all about not taking yourself too seriously. Peewee Herman doesn't, as he smiles from the TV screens behind the bar. Neither does the DJ spinning in the corner at 10 a.m., wearing a spandex unitard and dancing carelessly. And neither should you, on a Sunday morning in the Mission with your best friends -- or complete strangers.