More than a year ago, a devastating fire forced Hawthornes, one of South Philly’s most beloved Sunday brunch spots, to close. It re-opened about two months ago, and I quickly placed it on my list. Several weeks ago, during a Sunday snowfall, we were told there was a 45-minute wait for a table, as the place does not take reservations.

Flash forward a few weeks, and I came to the conclusion that a half-hour wait would be just fine. Patrons can sip a mug of hot strong dark roast coffee, sit by the enlarged fireplace or do what we did — become acquainted with one of the most distinct beer purveyors in town. The cases are stocked and so are the small shelves and bins that reminded me of perusing a wine store.

Thirty minutes later, we were seated and sipping coffee. The menu has a few new additions, including specials, such as chocolate chip pancakes with mint green cream cheese or a corned beef and Swiss cheese omelette.

What I most enjoy about Hawthornes is someone can order a hefty turkey sandwich, chicken and waffles or select from a number of egg dishes.

I felt like a kid in a candy store and immediately got big eyes. as there were so many options. I decided on a cheddar cheese omelette ($12). This glorious creation arrived golden and glistening; a true French omelette is difficult to find. The cheese melted inside created a marvelous, gooey and creamy experience. The cooks top the omelettes with tiny bits of chopped tomato and chives.

Ovenroasted potatoes are prepared with smoked paprika, which imparted a lovely flavor. They are roasted with small dices of onions and peppers that caramelize in the oven. They just needed a bit of salt. A slice of seven-grain toast was included with my brunch. Butter sits on each table, so it is soft enough to spread without tearing one’s toast. A side of thick slab bacon ($3 for three slices) completed my meal.

There are a few versions of eggs Benedict ($12). I tried the one made with a crab cake and the classic version as well. Edward decided on the Benedict prepared with smoked salmon and asparagus.

The English muffins may have been made in-house because they did not resemble the Thomas’ from my childhood. No nooks and crannies here. A generous thin slice of smoked salmon was placed on the muffin topped with a perfectly poached egg and a dollop of Hollandaise sauce. The asparagus were luscious for this time of year. They were neither too thin nor too thick and perfectly cooked. There are few things worse than limp, overcooked asparagus. They retained a bit of crunch. My only pet peeve is the smoked salmon was too cold. It should have been served at room temperature so the eggs would stay hot. I think the dish needed more Hollandaise. Ovenroasted potatoes came with this selection, too.

Service at Hawthornes was excellent, just as I remembered it to be. Servers regularly fill water glasses and coffee mugs. I do not think we had to wait more than ten minutes or so to receive our memorable Sunday brunch.

Hawthornes is open for lunch and dinner as well. Its salads are large enough for two. The overseers make a mighty fine burger, too.

A steady stream of people came to the restaurant during our meal. I saw a silver-haired gentleman exit a taxi and join others at a large table. I suspect everyone, especially those fortunate enough to live within walking distance, are truly happy to see it up and running once again. I know I am.

""Three-and-a-half tips of the toque to Hawthornes. 

738 South 11th St.

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