My mom and I communicate through Bitmojis and texted screenshots when I'm at school, so when I saw the Facebook event for BrunchCon a couple of months ago, I sent a link to my mom with the appropriate pancake-devouring Bitmoji.  My mom replied with a screenshot of an email confirmation to the event–BrunchCon + Emma and Elaine was official. 

Common Denominator of Brunch = Patience

We arrived by car to Prospect Park, showing up earlier than expected and snagging free parking a few blocks away. Unfortunately, we had to join the growing line snaking down the block from Grand Prospect Hall. Shivering in the late-March cold, we tried to maintain composure in the face of hanger and four of the loudest and most irritating New Jersey moms standing right behind us (and who spent almost the hour of wait time cackling, gossiping, and wondering when to tell their limo to pick them up). When my mom and I finally made it inside to the hall, we were in the place where dreams come true. No really, the place normally functions as a wedding venue and was full of hilariously outdated decor (hello, disco ball and tacky chandelier dangling next to each other on the ceiling of the glass-walled atrium and enough gilded molding and tiers in the ballroom to make Marie Antoinette proud.)

The Best of Brunch:

Now, on to the important stuff: food. My mom and I took three hours making our way through each of the seven sections of vendors and sampling dozens of brunch food. The following are what I would consider to be the best of the b(r)unch.


OMG. Home/Made was my favorite of the vendors and not for no reason. Their golden Belgian waffle triangles drizzled with an amazing pecan caramel sauce (which according to my Instagram stalking was a pecan cardamom honey butter) was to die for.  It won 2nd place at BrunchCon, and first place for me. I really regret not going back for seconds of this...

caramel, sauce, chocolate
Emma Fingleton

Gooey & Co.

I have been craving gooey butter cake since getting hooked on Ample Hill's ooey gooey flavor featuring the addictive St. Louis-style cake pieces.  I recognized this vendor from Smorgasburg last year.  I made my mom go back to this vendor and sneak me another one of these amazing cubes of delicious, gooey, crackly-topped cake.  I sampled both the caramelized banana and carrot cake versions; both were sweet and gooey and I wanted a dozen more.

House of Mac

We waited a while for these because the workers were obviously overwhelmed by the crowds and only had one waffle maker going. (It got crazy, especially toward the middle. As in, the floor was a minefield of spilled hot sauce and forgotten napkins.)  When we finally grabbed our sample cups of a waffled mac and cheese bite with cubes of pork belly, all drizzled with a vibrant cilantro sauce, we forgot our gripes about the mobs.  The pork belly was super flavorful and the mac and cheese was crispy and gooey from its time in the waffle iron.  I inhaled mine too fast to even think of snapping a picture, so here's a prettier and full-size version.

Butter and Scotch

I love biscuits, but had never tried sausage gravy before (sorry, it looks weird and suspiciously lumpy.)  Then I took a sampler shot of sausage gravy, with a golden square of flaky biscuit placed on top, and it changed my mind about sausage gravy.  It was flavorful and savory thanks to the pork sausage (which was lumpy, but not gross like I expected) and the biscuit was a perfect buttery complement to soak up the dregs of gravy.  Again, I ate this too fast for a picture; that's a good sign, I guess?

Black Swan

The fry up is a cornerstone of British (and Irish) cuisine and seems pretty traditional.  Black Swan put a twist on the meat-heavy classic English breakfast by skewering it: quartered sausage, rashers (thick bacon), black pudding, grilled tomatoes and mushrooms, and a fried potato cube were threaded onto the skewers.  The concept made for both a cute presentation as well as easy eating.  The rasher and sausage cubes were good-quality, and the tomato and potato were a nice touch (although it goes without saying, I left the black pudding behind.)  The woman even offered a drizzle of the classic brown sauce on the skewer.  All that was missing was a cube of Irish brown bread and a shot of tea to complete the meal

Emma Fingleton


If you're one of the few people I haven't told I'm studying abroad in Seoul next semester, well, now you know.  When we were lining up for this dumpling stand, I realized the sign said "Korean comfort food," and I got excited.  When I bit into the fresh potato dumpling drizzled with a spicy sauce, I made a mental note to track down the Korean street food equivalent next fall.  The dumpling was burning hot, fluffy on the inside and crisp with golden panko coating on the outside.  The sweet-spicy sauce added a needed kick, and I gladly would have eaten half a dozen of these!


I first tried the insanely popular Smorgasburg stand (and upcoming store on Houston Street, according to the super friendly workers) Wowfulls last spring and fell in love with Hong Kong-style egg waffles.  Warm waffles, ice cream, and cool toppings like Fruity Pebbles and Pocky sticks combine to form a stunning and delicious dessert.  At BrunchCon, they were serving little samplers of two of their popular flavors, featuring either Oreos or mochi, and I made a beeline to the stand to grab an Oreo sundae.  I can't wait to visit their brick-and-mortar location soon

Cafe Habana

This Cuban stand was the first savory vendor we visited; my mom took a mini tortilla bowl filled with rice, beans and pork while I chose the classic Cuban.  This was my first time trying the pressed sandwich, which they were making right in front of us, and I loved it.  The combination of savory, tender roast pork and ham with cheese and pickles on the crisp toasted bread was addicting.  It was hard to walk away without grabbing another wedge of sandwich, although I was strong and resisted.

Cafe Grumpy

This was our last stop of the day.  By this point, we were both confusedly asking each other what time it was; time seemed to stop when we were surrounded by the crowds and the seemingly endless samples.  We needed a caffeine boost, and also wanted to sit down for a little to digest, so we both ordered cappuccinos.  Made to order and featuring the extra touch of foam art, the coffee was strong, smooth and the perfect temperature.  I also sampled their cold brew while waiting, and it was delicious.

hot chocolate, mocha, espresso, cappuccino, coffee, chocolate, milk
Emma Fingleton

Honorable Mentions

In the dark lighting, against the backdrop of thumping 90s music videos, I grabbed what appeared to be a funfetti scone off the tiered stand from the Awkward Scone.  It was the first food vendor we visited and I was hungry, but when I bit into the pastry I realized it wasn't a cutesy sprinkled scone.  It was decidedly savory, and after a glance at the sign, I confirmed the peculiar flavor was indeed broccoli-cheddar.  Hmm.  The second bite was better because I told myself it was a biscuit, not a scone.  It was good but I just couldn't get over it psychologically.  Scones are sweet and need a dollop of jam.  They're not Panera soup flavors.  My mom enjoyed them, though.

The apple turnovers from Francois Payard were near-perfect. Golden, buttery layers of pastry encased the apple filling.  They were flaky and delicate, but I thought the apple needed a little more flavor and there could have been a little more of it.  The sample size was perfect, though, so I cannot complain.

The fresh donuts from Sweet Dreams were insanely delicious: fresh out of the fryer and dusted with melting powdered sugar, they were perfect little clouds of donuts.  However, I've had donuts just like these before from both Doughnuttery in Chelsea Market and Little Lucy's in Austin, TX; there was no innovation here.  They could have brought a few flavored sugars or infused sauces.  Yes, simple is sometimes best, but these were plain compared to everything else.

The panettone french toast and the short rib hash from two vendors whose names we didn't catch were both incredible too; unfortunately I cannot connect them to the restaurants who made them because they weren't in their listed sections

Emma Fingleton

I regret not waiting out for Parlay's s'more waffles, complete with their own chocolate syringes, but the line was crazy and the vendor workers kept telling us they didn't know when the next batch would come out, which was weird.  The waffles looked amazing and incredibly photogenic (they are the cover photo of this article for a reason), but I'll definitely go to Parlay's Rockville Center location this summer on Long Island for the full-size version.

Our Final Impressions 

Time for all my critiques! They definitely oversold the tickets or else overestimated the capacity of the venue without considering the space the vendors would need.  For one, it was very hard to move around while carrying a plate when it was incredibly crowded.  Lines for the most popular vendors grew impossibly long–we never bothered getting mimosas because of the line, and waited for up to fifteen minutes for a couple bites of certain foods.  The lighting in the ballroom was too dark to take any decent pictures, of food or otherwise.  The garbages were constantly overflowing with discarded utensils and plates.  Each of the seven sections was supposed to be cordoned off and guests were supposed to have a valet-type person stamp your card once you entered their section so you could not reenter.  Luckily for us, because my mom dropped her card early on, this policy was lax at best and unenforced for the most part.  However, this contributed to the overcrowding issue. 

However... I loved the idea of BrunchCon–an all-inclusive celebration of my favorite meal with some of my favorite vendors and the chance to try new favorites–and the overall atmosphere was fun and celebratory.  Improved planning, such as splitting the attendees over two days or set time periods, will make this event even better.  It was only the event's first year, so I'm sure if it returns next year it will only have improved.  I'll be sure to report back ;)

Overall, BrunchCon was a successful way to spend our Sunday afternoon!  I appreciated the creativity and passion of the vendors; there was nary an avocado toast or omelette in sight.  My mom and I both loved getting to sample so many different types of food, from exotic dragonfruit bowls  to Lebanese flatbreads and natural birch water (okay, the birch water was really weird but we were thirsty) along with classics like waffles, pastries, and biscuits and gravy.  Now I need to figure out how to be an official judge for next year's BrunchCon...