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Brunch is the perfect meal

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I feel about brunch the way Homer Simpson feels about donuts. Brunch is the perfect meal: not too early, not too fussy, come as you are, eat breakfast or lunch, savory or sweet—so I'm way bummed that I missed Chef Shirlé Hale Koslowski's vegan brunch last Sunday at The Pinhook (117 W. Main St., Durham, 667-1100, www.thepinhook.com). It takes place the first Sunday of every month, and November sneaked up on me. But Hale Koslowski (rockinthestove.com), the chef-owner of Four Corners Cuisine (www.fourcornerscuisine.com) says it will be a regular happening. The menu will change every month, but location, time (noon to 2 p.m.) and cost ($7—cash only, please—for a main dish with two sides and coffee) will stay the same. Mimosas and Bloody Marys will be offered, too.

While I wait for next month, I can check out other brunches. In Durham, Rue Cler (401 E. Chapel Hill St., 682-8844, www.ruecler-durham.com) serves a lovely brunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. The menu includes "Oeufs Rue Cler" (poached eggs, asparagus and ham on focaccia toast with sauce béarnaise) for $11, crepes for $8, fresh beignets by the half dozen ($4) or dozen ($7), pommes frites ($4) and even coq au vin ($13).

This time of year, breakfast stalwart Elmo's Diner (www.elmosdiner.com), which has locations in Durham (776 Ninth St., 416-3823, and Carrboro, 200 N. Greensboro St., in Carr Mill Mall, 929-2909) serves some yummy seasonal specials: Think pumpkin pancakes or perhaps cinnamon-apple French toast. Check the Web site to confirm which site is serving what, when.

Also in Carrboro, Acme (110 E. Main St., 929-ACME, acmecarrboro.com) serves brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sundays. Acme's menu includes a Deluxe Benedict (two poached eggs, ham and fried green tomatoes with hollandaise sauce) for $11.95 and the Orange County Special (a buttermilk biscuit smothered with Soehner's farm sausage gravy and cheddar cheese, served with two eggs cooked your way) for $9.75, and malted ricotta doughnuts with various glazes, $3.75 for three.

Just down the road in Chapel Hill, Crook's Corner (610 W. Franklin St., 929-7643, crookscorner.com) serves Sunday brunch from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., and this season's menu includes fried oysters and eggs (two eggs cooked your way, served with cheese grits and a biscuit) for $10.95; a tall ($6.50) or short ($4.95) stack of buttermilk pancakes (with sausage, bacon or a scrambled egg and served with warm maple syrup); and a Cajun omelet (tasso ham, onions and green peppers served with cheese grits) for $7.95.

Are you full yet? Making moaning noises, à la Homer? We haven't even gotten to the huevos rancheros! They're $9 on the menu at Humble Pie (317 S. Harrington St., Raleigh, 829-9222, www.humblepierestaurant.com), which serves Sunday brunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Humble Pie also serves a Cobelt Sandwich (cheese, onion, bacon, eggs, lettuce and tomato on Texas toast) for $8, and shrimp and grits (with "broth of the gods"—that's a direct quote) for $9.

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