Sunday brunch is one of life's grace notes. It's a mildly decadent social ritual that hearkens back to simpler, slower times ... and it's the one time during the week when you're unblinkingly presented with booze options in the morning. Often, though, the fare is all too predictable. There's nothing wrong with a Belgian waffle and a mimosa, but what about shaking it up?
Brunches at Piper's Pub, a Carson Street institution for 11 years, are a wonderful Gaelic affair. The restaurant/bar is known for showing football matches from across the pond, and has built a community of ex-pats from England, Ireland and Scotland. On Sundays, Piper's owner Drew Topping offers brunch options that he became enamored of during his travels in Scotland.
Among the offerings is boxty, a traditional Irish dish consisting of a potato pancake wrapped around various goodies. It's available only at Sunday brunch -- which Topping says is a good reason to get out of bed despite it being a day of rest. (His line cook enjoys no Sabbath respite, spending hours each Sunday preparing the tasty spuds instead.)
The biggest seller is the Irish boxty, with the pancake folded over bangers, ham, scrambled eggs and provolone cheese. There's also a creamed corned beef variant, as well as salmon and veggie options. Traditional hearty Irish and English breakfasts are also available. The former consists of bangers, ham steak, eggs, mashed potatoes, rolls and tomatoes; the latter includes baked beans, bangers, eggs, tomatoes and mushrooms over toast.
"I had two off-the-boat Scottish grandfathers," Topping explains: "one that wound up here and one in New York City. I went back to the roots of my family." That's included turning his establishment into a hub for European football fans: The restaurant even has its own team.
But Piper's has kept roots here in Pittsburgh. Topping says he enjoys featuring of all the excellent local brewing going on -- plenty is on tap at the bar. Most of the cask ale at Piper's is locally produced.
The single-malt Scotch list is, unsurprisingly, comprehensive, and heavy on baffling Gaelic vowel combinations. And if you want to drink whiskey on a Sunday morning, well, slainte. Bring your own kilt.
Piper's Pub. 1828 East Carson St.,
412-381-3977 or www.piperspub.com
Sunday brunch: 9 a.m.-3 p.m.