“I’ve never been to brunch before,” confessed my colleague Brittney during a conversation about weekend plans.
I stared at her in disbelief for a few moments. Eventually, I was able to process the words that had just escaped her mouth. She had never spent a whole day indulging in breakfast dishes, swapping gossip over mimosas, or taking that blissful, hazy nap after all those aforementioned mimosas.
Needless to say I took it as my personal mission to remedy this situation. We whipped out our iPhones, planned a date, and selected the restaurant.
While I usually prefer bottomless brunches, it seemed best to start Brittney’s first brunch experience off slow. After a search of brunches in Annapolis (a close locale for her, and a new brunching spot for me), I stumbled upon Miss Shirley’s. The eatery receives regular praise from publications such as Zagat and Baltimore Magazine (there’s a location there, too), and its extensive menu seemed to have something for everyone.
Come the weekend, our group arrived to the eatery to honor Brittney’s first brunch. We were greeted with a wait time of more than an hour and a restaurant filled to the brim. Since Miss Shirley’s doesn’t accept reservations, we had no choice to but to wait if we wanted to dine there. This was a special occasion, so we suffered along with all the other brunch-goers out on the sidewalk.
Before we passed out from hunger in broad daylight, our buzzer finally vibrated—alerting us to the sweet, sweet brunch that was in our near future. We handed our buzzer over and followed the hostess to a dark booth accompanied by a single chair to seat our five-person party.
The restaurant’s atmosphere wasn’t quite what I had expected. It was neither that of a high-end restaurant nor that of a late-night diner. In fact, its appearance was similar to what you would find in a hotel restaurant. The shades were also drawn to block out the noon-day sun and prevent any diners from going blind while indulging in their meals; but it made the restaurant rather dark.
Our server was clearly a well-seasoned veteran in the restaurant industry. She handled her tables with ease, greeting ours in passing with a smile and took drink orders swiftly. Unfortunately, because several of us possessed vertical Virginia driver’s licenses we were denied alcohol, and poor Brittney was the lone mimosa drinker at our table. I revealed to our server early on that I have a gluten intolerance, and she went out of her way to help me find dishes that I could enjoy and those I should avoid.
We immediately ordered the fried green tomatoes and the cornbread squares, which were served with house-made peach-jalapeño jam, peppered-jalapeño butter, and dusted with Cajun spice. Once our entrees arrived, everyone dug in immediately, except for me, because the waitress had removed my plate so I wouldn’t be tempted to partake in the gluten-laden goodness. My brunching companions all moaned in delight at the first bite of the fried green tomatoes, and I was informed that the dish was phenomenal.
The cornbread squares didn’t prompt quite the same reaction, but instead drew confused looks around the table. No one could put their finger on what it was about the cornbread, but something about it made it different from other cornbreads. The fried green tomatoes were a tough act to follow, and the cornbread was just OK.
With our hunger as great as the wait was long, we placed our orders the same time as our starters. Our server relayed the day’s specials, which had all of us oohing and aahing over the delectable and decadent choices. All of us were so mesmerized by the options we all opted for something on the sweet side.
Since discovering my gluten intolerance I’ve been dearly missing old favorites, like pancakes. Luckily, Miss Shirley’s offers gluten-free pancakes, which can be made almost any way you like, and that’s exactly what I did. The cakes were actually a great substitute if you miss carb-loaded classics as much as I do. They were extremely dense, as are most gluten free options, but with a little extra syrup you could barely tell the difference.
Silvia, our fellow co-worker, decided her cheat day would be made with blueberry pancakes. When the dish arrived all of our jaws dropped at the size of her pancakes, even the server had to stop and ask how many they had given her—the stack was so high.
Fresh, succulent blueberries graced the top of the stack and were entwined throughout the hotcakes. A miniature carafe filled with maple syrup was placed delicately on the side of the plate. We barely heard from Silvia throughout the meal due to the tastiness of her dish, but due to the enormity she barely made it through half the stack.
Brittney was kind enough to order the red velvet pancakes with cream cheese frosting on my behalf so that I could live vicariously. Her dish was also large that it was almost overwhelming. She reported that the ‘cakes were good.
Karissa and Leon both opted for different versions of the thick-cut French toast. Karissa ordered the white chocolate cream cheese French toast and a side of the chicken corn chowder with applewood smoked bacon. The soup was confirmed to be tasty, but nothing to write home about.
Karissa’s dish was enormous, and the toast was incredibly thick. We all commented on how visually pleasing the dish was, but Karissa had a hard time eating it due to its excessive sweetness.
Leon ordered another French toast, the coconut crème stuffed French toast, and a side of hash browns with onions. The hash browns were too soggy for his tastes, and his reaction to the French toast was very similar to Karissa’s. He divided his dish into two parts: one with us and one later in the day, but said it was overwhelmingly sweet nonetheless.
After brunch we waddled out of the restaurant and made our way to the waterfront, where we took in the sunshine and discussed Brittney’s first brunch experience. We all agreed that the service was spectacular, and that our server’s commitment to our experience was greatly appreciated.
Unfortunately, the food, while beautiful to look at and read on the menu, wasn’t quite anything special. In fact, it was actually overwhelming to have so many decadent dishes grace the table.
If you’re in Annapolis and are looking for a decent brunch, Miss Shirley’s will do, although I would highly recommend getting there as early as possible to avoid a long wait.
The Bitches say: C+. A mediocre atmosphere, average food, but awesome service. It just wasn’t everything I wanted it to be.
1 Park Place
Miss Shirley’s serves breakfast every day from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.week days, and brunch from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.