Is It Bad Etiquette To Order From The Lunch Menu At Brunch?

Brunch holds a special place in the meal hierarchy. Often enjoyed with friends and family, it serves as a bridge between breakfast and lunch, and is less of a meal than a special occasion. Restaurants frequently offer special menus featuring classics like eggs Benedict, crunchy French toast, or zesty shakshuka. But what if you don't want to order from the brunch menu? What if you crave a salad after a heavy dinner the night before and don't want a side of eggs with your mimosa? Is it ever okay to veer off the designated dishes?

Depending on the restaurant, you might be able to request an item from the lunch menu. However, if the establishment doesn't offer its lunch menu alongside the brunch menu, they won't be prepared to make dishes from the regular menu. In such cases, your request could come across as inconsiderate and rude to the staff, as it would require extra effort on their part.

Menus, specialties, and when to order

Restaurants generally employ one of two strategies during brunch service: a specialized brunch menu, or brunch specials added to the regular lunch menu. In the latter case, feel free to order from the regular lunch menu if nothing on the brunch menu strikes your fancy.

However, some restaurants treat brunch as a completely distinct mealtime, offering only a unique brunch menu during brunch hours (typically between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on weekends). In such establishments, requesting a dish not on their brunch-only menu can be seen as bad etiquette. Restaurant kitchens are usually organized to handle the ingredients for one specific meal service at a time, a practice known as mise-en-place. Asking for something from the lunch menu during brunch would require the staff to prepare items they don't have readily available, creating extra work for them in an already high-pressure kitchen environment.

Other brunch etiquettes to observe

Aside from ordering from the menu provided during brunch, there are several other etiquette points to keep in mind to fully maximize your enjoyment of this weekend tradition. For instance, many establishments offer unlimited drinks for a fixed price, usually featuring brunch-associated cocktails like Bloody Marys, mimosas, or bellinis. While you might be tempted to make the most of this high-priced option, refrain from ordering another drink before finishing the one already in front of you.

If the restaurant offers a buffet during brunch, it is considered courteous to finish what you've selected, or at least most of it. Leaving behind an excessive amount of food is not only wasteful but also detracts from the choices available for other patrons. If you're uncertain about a particular item, bring a small sample back to your table for tasting before deciding whether to go back for more.