Each week we highlight one brunch spot around town that impressed us. Our past Brunch of the Weeks are below and represent some of the best brunch in NYC.
Best Mediterranean Brunch
What's one of the most underrated brunches in Brooklyn? Olea in Fort Greene. They’re serving up Mediterranean-inspired fare in a bright and airy atmosphere.
Three words. The Turkish Breakfast. Order it. It’s pretty much the only thing I get there... because it’s so good I would feel bad if I got anything else. It includes scrambled eggs with cilantro, tomato, red onion, fattoush, eggplant salad, herbed yogurt, and grilled pita bread. I also always pair it with a bloody Mary—my favorite bloody in Brooklyn. Hands down. It’s not too tomato-ey and has just the right amount of horseradish.
I tend to head to Olea during the summer because it’s near the outdoor BK flea, but the winter is a great time to stop by too. When it’s 13 degrees outside, it’s nice to feel like you’ve been transported to a Greek isle for a couple hours. Add it to your brunch to do list.
Great East Village Brunch
It might seem like a little hole-in-the-wall place, but you can tell from the wrap-around-the-block-line during the warm months that Café Orlin has something special inside. The East Village eatery serves up a Middle Eastern-inspired menu, complete with hummus and tabouli-filled dishes, along with some classic fare.
For something less classic, get the “Diana’s Breakfast,” or two eggs any style served with hummus, tabouli, and pita, as well as the babaganush plate. And (drool) they’ve got pumpkin topped pancakes with cinnamon yogurt-- not just for the Fall season! We’re also big fans of the eggs benedict—a featured brunch item served with fresh OJ, coffee, or tea. Of course, we recommend getting a brunch cocktail or two; they’ve got eight different choices, but we think the Bloody Maria is your best bet.
Café Orlin doesn’t mess around with their hours. They start serving at 8:30am, so you should try to get there early, otherwise you’ll be left waiting on St. Marks for a while—but the wait is worth it—and the people watching too!
Great for the warm weather.
If this post could only be four words, it would read,”Brunch. Backyard. Blood Mary.”Because that really boils down my favorite things about The Good Fork.
But luckily, in the wonderful world of WordPress I can expand on the experience.
Like most New Yorkers, I’m used to waiting for brunch. And I don’t really have a problem with that because I think most places are worth the wait. But because The Good Fork is still slightly under the radar, there was no wait. The Red Hook location, understated decor, and droves headed to Fort Defiance keep the brunch explosion to a minimum. So I was immediately seated in the greenery-covered backyard, where every table holds a bottle of Sriracha or Tabasco.
Like I said before, if you do anything at The Good Fork, order a bloody mary. I know I talk a lot here about my favorite bloody marys, but this one is in my top three favorites– inching close to first place. It’s spicy, filled with horseradish, and practically has a garden growing out of it, with a giant stalk of celery, a green bean, olive, and pickle speared across the top.
Unlike the typical brunch menu, this one offers homemade dumplings, Korean steak and eggs, and classic bibimbop. The Korean steak and eggs is the dish to get, with spicy soy marinated grass-fed hanger steak, Korean potato salad, mixed greens, and two fried eggs.
And without the mad brunch crowd, I could have stayed all day.
Great spot, even for those skeptical of brunch
I’ve talked to a few Brooklynites who have told me they “hate brunch.” You can imagine my shock and awe, since brunching is one of my hobbies, but in some way, I can understand what they mean. Brunch can be a scene; long waits, crowded tables, rushed service… I hear you.
If you’ve lost faith in Brooklyn brunch, I suggest you visit Calyer.
This Greenpoint spot is unpretentious, comfortable, and when I visited, there was no wait. I started at the bar; the friendly bartender offered me the brunch cocktail list, and I started with a frothy Snap Sour, that was a sweet way to start the day– almost like a liquid gingersnap cookie.
As a Bloody Mary enthusiast, I couldn’t leave without trying the house bloody mary with gin, which had a good balance of tomato and spice, and garnished with a celery stick, an olive, and a pickle. I paired it with a kale salad– tossed with almonds, clothbound cheddar cheese, lemon vinaigrette, and topped with two baked eggs.
If kale salads don’t excite you, the bartender recommends his favorite, the corned beef hash (with confit potato, melted onions, and two poached eggs, and the new sausage and egg sandwich. Calyer also just added nitrate-free bacon to the menu if that’s your thing.
If brunch was this fabulous, I’ll have to go in for dinner. Calyer, I’ll be back in for dinner soon.
by Caitlin Heikkila of the BrunchCritic Editorial Team, and Founder of BecomingBrooklyn
This review originally appeared on becomingbklyn.com
Best Way to Start a New Year. Happy 2013!
ABC Kitchen has a cool atmosphere, great food, and pays attention to detail. Our visit on New Year’s Day set the tone for a great 2013 and we couldn’t have asked for a better brunch.
ABC Kitchen is superstar chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s contribution to New York’s roster of local/seasonal, farm-to-table restaurants. But don’t expect to get your hands dirty here. It’s more chic than barnyard. The space is stunning. Whitewashed floors, exposed wooden beams, mismatched – yet beautiful – china, and intimate lighting combine for a luxe, yet welcoming, vibe.
Remember three things - Mushroom, truffle & egg pizza ($18), Eggs Benedict with Flying Pigs Farm Ham ($18) and French Toast. ($17) All but one of the above were the recommendations from our waiter. Justin, you served us well! The Eggs Benedict was some of the best we've had in a long time, and ABC cooks its ham absolutely perfect. The French Toast had ample cinnamon, something too many brunch places don't bother with.
After a late night, starting with the “glazed donuts” sounded like just the way to start our brunch and continue perusing the menu. Wrong. You’re better off grabbing a donut at Starbucks or your local deli, because it sure tastes like that’s where they got ‘em.
Located inside of a place as creative as ABC Home, and with the masterful décor of the restaurant, they should have a brunch drink menu to match. The bloody Mary is adequately spiced, but sans a fun garnish. What would be really nice are some spritzers or sparkling mixed options to match the energy of this brunch spot. And by the way, the drinks they do have are silly expensive.
The Take-Away: All in all, if you stick to the menu recommendations ABC Kitchen is:
Special Occasion Brunch
Overall Rating, A-
That mushroom, truffle and egg pizza is something we will literally be dreaming about this week, or next time we are hungover and still need to show up while impressing parents. Next time, we'll also have the eggs and fried oysters. Both tables to our right and our left loved them.
We heart you waiter Justin. Jean-Georges, give this man a raise!
(Photo: ABC Kitchen)
“Grilled” is the new “Toasted”
The Promenade formerly known as English took a more Gallic name just a few weeks ago to match its now more familiarly Gallic menu. With the redesign of his newest restaurant, chef Alain Allegretti, whose career spanned working with Alain Ducasse and Le Cirque 2000, has officially left the world of triple digit dinners and now focuses on oeufs sincères.
On the last warm Saturday of 2012, we were welcomed into the restaurant without a moment’s wait and seated immediately in a warmly lit, quiet dining room. Bloody Marys ($12) quickly arrived and were respectably spicy. Barbecued (okay, grilled) bread soon followed with a, um, “healthy” amount of whipped ricotta drizzled with honey and thyme ($11) to lather it, putting any standard buttered toast to shame. A zucchini, mushroom, and goat cheese frittata with pine nut gremolata ($14) was creamy where it was supposed to be and appropriately flakey in its other parts. We also learned that when poached eggs come “Riviera Style”, it means they’re accompanied by oven dried prosciutto and peperonata while served on crispy panisse bread ($15). In other words: fancy eggs with fancy bacon on fancy bread, which is as close to an ideal brunch meal if ever there were one.
Unfortunately for a certain Spanish restaurant that couldn’t figure out if it wanted to be open on Saturdays, Bistro La Promenade easily nabs the Brunch of the Week.
A Brunch for All Seasons
Some days you want to gather all of your friends together and have a huge, four-hour blowout brunch. Other days you just want to hedonistically have a prix-fixe menu with diver scallops, caviar, and cocktails by yourself while reading the Sunday Times. Fortunately in Manhattan there’s a place for you, and it’s called Park Avenue Autumn.
Call ahead for your reservation and you’ll be sat without waiting at a spacious table for one. Then you’ll be presented with a three-course menu including a basket of six different breakfast breads ranging from the sweet (Brioche & Pecan Sticky Bun) to the savory (Pistachio Scone) to both (Pumpkin Bread with Spicy Sunflower).
From there the menu offers nine options for appetizers and ten for entrees. The appetizers tend more towards the “-unch” side of brunch (Local Bluefish Tartine with Black Truffle & Watermelon Radish and Prosciutto & Black Mission Figs with White Balsamic Crème were some choices). I opted for the Roasted Pumpkin Soup with Toasted Pumpkin Seeds, which provided a satisfactory crunch to complement the soft texture of the soup.
On the entrée side things go more tradish. Maple French Toast with Butterscotch Apples addresses the early afternoon sugar cravings, while the Open Face Omelet with Maitake Mushrooms, Butternut Squash, and Aged Gouda is one of the several egg dishes available.
However tempting the Breakfast Risotto was, the Upper East Sider shows that Park Avenue really knows New York. A two-part plate that consisted of one half of a toasted bagel with cream cheese, lox, capers, and red onions, and another half order of Eggs Benedict, except with the usual Canadian bacon upgraded to pork belly, and with black truffles. I felt so guilty after eating it, I half expected to see a confession booth by the coat check.
And lastly, while the normal Bloody Mary would have undoubtedly been worthy here, hours before Sandy descended upon New York there was only one cocktail I could order, which I was assured had been part of the menu for a while. Bulleit Bourbon, Averna (Sicilian botanical liquor), Etter Pear (clear fruit brandy), and Ginger Beer combined to make (and what else): a Stormy Weather ($15).
Hipster Bubbe Chic
If you grew up in or around a Jewish home, you probably remember that weekend brunch options were usually limited to what flavor cream cheese you wanted on your bagel. (Just kidding, flavored cream cheese is only for the goyim.) So when Maya and Dean Jankelowitz left Balthazar to start their own Israeli/South African/Modern Jewish restaurant, they started with a clean culinary slate. And what a tasty slate they’ve drawn.
After a reasonable 20-minute wait for two at 1:00 PM on a mild Saturday, we were seated in the middle of the high energy (read: not quiet) community table. From there we chose the grilled haloumi (semi-hard cheese, $8) and house cured duck bacon ($5) to start off. The haloumi was pleasantly light and satisfyingly chewy, while the duck bacon was a decent substitute for the real thing but ultimately more of a novelty. The grilled eggplant on a baguette with roasted tomato, mozzarella, and basil ($10) followed and was good on its own but made heartier with an added chicken kebab skewer ($5), and Jack’s burger with grilled tomato, fried onion, and hand-cut fries ($12) hit all of the meaty notes you’d hope for in a burger, along with fries made by a chef whom we sincerely hope is proud of what he can accomplish with oil, a potato, and heat. Mint lemonade ($5) is as refreshing as it sounds.
Assuage your Jewish guilt by skipping the latest Eggs Rothko joint and pulling up a chair at Jack’s Wife Freda for the brunch your grandma would eat if she walked to the restaurant wearing TOMS shoes and listening to Mumford and Sons.
Park Slope Favorite
Rose Water is a Park Slope brunch favorite for its carefully crafted plates and lovely interior. The restaurant is committed to sourcing local, seasonal, organic, and sustainable ingredients when possible; and its care is apparent in creative dishes like McIntosh apple pancakes with Meyer lemon butter and toasted pecans; a duck confit sandwich with feta, endive, and pimento fries; and a frittata with caramelized onions, Swiss chard stems, cheddar, and a wild rice salad. Brunch specials – recently an open-faced lamb burger and a mushroom bread pudding – are popular as is the refreshing rose water lemonade. The brunch prix fixe is a reasonable $15 for an entree and a beverage.
A Lower East Side Brunch Must
A funky little gem of a restaurant, The Fat Radish is a welcome addition to this up-and-coming corner of LES-meets-Chinatown. Billed as a British gastropub, the food is actually quite a bit lighter, focusing on seasonal vegetables and locally sourced ingredients. With its whitewashed brick walls, open kitchen, and daily specials scrawled on a large mirror, the place has a laid-back, industrial-chic vibe.
The brunch menu changes seasonally, but highlights on our visit included the Potato Cheese Cake with Brussels Sprouts, Bacon and Poached Eggs ($12) and the melt-in-your-mouth Warm Banana Bread ($8) served with creamy butter. Avocado Toast with Spicy Eggs ($12) (given a kick from Sriracha sauce) was also good, but we’ve got our sights set on the Pumpkin Pancakes with Maple Mascarpone that will come later this fall.
To drink, try the sparkling Verdicchio ($12), a citrusy alternative to Prosecco, or try one of their non-alcoholic juice or smoothie options. Definitely worth a visit, both for the people watching and the food. And, this Critic's Pick brunch spot also accepts reservations for parties of all sizes. We love that.
For photos, click below.
A Class Act
Maialino is a brunch spot we believe you've got to try at least once. And, chances are that you'll want to go back for seconds. Maialino fires on all cylinders - food, service, atmosphere - and executes a fantastic brunch experience.
Maialino specializes in Italian fare, and a number of lunchie-brunch items can be found. The Suckling Pig Ragu is a major standout. For a more breakfast and eggy brunch selection, try the Olive Oil Muffins, Porchetta (sandwich with roast pork, fried egg & ciabatta,) or Contadino (Poached Eggs, Brussel Sprouts, Butternut Squash).
One of our favorite things about Maialino is that the restaurant is perfect for parties of varied sizes. Whether you are a party of 2, a family of 4 or a group of 10, Maialino has a table for you. Everyone knows round tables are the best, but they are a rarity in NYC. Don't fret - Maialino has tons of of them. It's also fitting that we highlight Maialino with the Easter holiday approaching this Sunday. Serving their regular brunch menu, Maialino is a fantastic spot to celebrate the holiday with friends and family.
So stroll on down to this rustic, airy and inviting Roman trattoria in Gramercy. From the moment the hostess greets you to the moment your server offers dessert, you'll be treated with welcoming servers who are quick to clear your table or refill your cup of coffee. The focus on hospitality coupled with the food and ambiance make Maialino a class act.
For photos, click below.
When it comes to brunch, New Yorkers seem to have a penchant for the petite: many of the longest waits are found at spots that are a mere sliver of space. Elephant and Castle, August, Prune, Westville, and Nook: all tiny establishments that enjoy some of the highest praise from critics...and come with the longest lines as a result. Is small square footage a key ingredient in making a restaurant a hit? Maybe New Yorkers are just comfortable in the kinds of restaurants that remind them of their own miniature apartments...or maybe there's something about having such a wee space to work (and serve) in that forces restauranteurs to shoot for oversized taste.
After hearing rave after rave about itsy-bitsy brunch spot JoeDoe, I had to check it out for myself. It's a cool little restaurant in the East Village that seats no more than 25 (including the seats at the bar). It's best to stop in with a party of no more than four, although there is one large table available that seats five. Every time I've gone for brunch at JoeDoe, the wait has been minimal, but I've found it's best to go later on in the day rather than hitting up the place right when it opens.
Food highlights include corned duck hash, biscuits, and chilaquiles (pass on the shoulder bacon; the duck puts it to shame). The Bloody Mary is darn good too; JoeDoe's menu even proclaims it the "best" in NYC (we're happy to give it an honorable mention). For those of you who'd like to try their recipe at home, add a little cider vinegar and sambal (a chili-based sauce) to your basic Bloody for extra spice and tanginess.
JoeDoe is a solid brunch spot well worth the subway ride. It's cozy and relaxed, with great music and food. One minor quibble: when you depart a meal at such a tiny spot you tend to leave smelling...well...a little bit like the kitchen. But hey, we're New Yorkers, and there are lots of worse scents out there than biscuits and bacon.
So I'm joining the masses, and giving JoeDoe an enthusiastic two thumbs up for a small space with seriously big food.
Worth a trip to Brooklyn
Envision a French bistro with scruffy, rustic floors, well-worn tables, and a cozy wine lounge complete with a wood-burning fireplace. Now add antique bud vases on the tables, each holding a single daisy. Flood the place with sunlight, throw on some jazz in the background, and fill the tables with skinny-jeans-wearing Williamsburg hipsters...et voila! You’ve got Le Barricou, the bustling French bistro and wine bar run by Jean-Pierre Marquet (of Brooklyn’s Marquet bakery and Joshua Boissy).
Brunch at Le Barricou is a boisterous affair, fueled by $6 Mimosas (with fresh-squeezed juice, bien sur), $6 Bellinis, and $8 Bloody Marys (made with an extra-spicy homemade mix). The entire neighborhood turns out Saturday and Sunday afternoons, there as much for the cocktails and convivial atmosphere as for the free croissants and the slew of hearty egg dishes.
On a recent trip, we loved their omelettes (especially the wild mushroom), all served with a mesclun salad dressed in a lovely mustardy vinaigrette and fantastically greasy home fries. The Eggs Benedict ($10.50), Florentine ($10.50), and Norwegian ($11) are all terrific, but the croissant sandwiches were what really won us over. Warm, flaky croissants from Marquet bakery filled with your choice of sautéed spinach and goat cheese, or ham and gruyere, and served alongside two fried eggs and a side salad—all for $9.50. This place is practically giving the food away, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a more pleasant brunch vibe anywhere.
So tell your Manhattan friends to hop on the L train and give this gem a try. It’s only two stops into Brooklyn (less travel time than your average Manhattan brunch wait) and—best of all—brunch is served ‘til 6 pm...so you have plenty of time to sleep off that hangover.
Local, homey brunch in Ft. Greene
As soon as I walked into Olea I felt instantly at home, and I quickly conjured up more brunches, happy hour at the bar, and romantic dinners at the restaurant. I loved the rosemary plants clustered at the edge of the bar, the rustic furniture, and the sun-drenched space. Luckily the food was tasty too. I ate a flavorful Turkish Breakfast ($11) complete with cilantro-spiked scrambled eggs, eggplant salad, fattoush, tomato, and pita and yogurt. The lamb meatball sandwich ($12) with smoky potatoes and salad was also a hit. I was also eyeing the Green Eggs and Lamb ($13) and Savory Parmesan French Toast ($12). Those will have to wait for next time, which I’m sure will be soon.
Noise Level: Moderate to loud
Ideal for: Small to medium-sized groups. All ages would feel comfortable although it’s mostly youngish neighborhood folks.
Trendy dinner spot Beauty & Essex proved to be a worthwhile (and very tasty) brunch outing. We'd definitely make a repeat visit with a large group to take advantage of those big, round tables - perhaps to celebrate a birthday or to wrap up a bachelorette weekend.
The very act of getting into this establishment is part of the fun: you get to feel all Sherlock Holmes-y, entering through a nondescript pawn shop before making your way into the scene that is Beauty & Essex. Sure, there's a bit of attitude at the front and a stay in the lounge, but you'll get to your table eventually...and it'll be worth the wait.
The food is straight-up excellent. But because Beauty & Essex emphasizes sharing and serves up "small plates," you'll need to be careful to balance out the sweet and savory dishes with your fellow diners. There are a lot of awesome plates to choose from: the Vanilla Beignets are excellent, as are the eggs benedict and the lobster tacos, but be careful to pace yourself: it's easy to go overboard here, as the proportions are surprisingly large for so-called "small plates."
BC Tip: While in theory it's fun to share, it might not be so much fun for your stomach. For example, take the (very awesome) pancakes: one order is plenty, and same goes for the eggs benedict. (Speaking of those eggs, we loved how the dish came with three mini benes - quail eggs, prosciutto, and the perfect amount of Hollandaise.) Sticking to one order of the dish you want the most is ideal both for your wallet and for your tummy.
All in, Beauty & Essex gets 5 stars from us. We'll be back to gather our best friends around one of those awesome round tables - which, in a crowded city where restaurants pack in the people, are almost as hot a commodity as a spectacular brunch plate.
That photo to the left? Churro-coated challah french toast, with fried plantains.
Pepe Patron, on 2nd Avenue, just started doing brunch a couple of weeks ago, and they’re killing it. First of all, it feels like you’re on a Caribbean vacation inside, what with the music and the lights and all, which in my book is always a plus. And the food: there are standard options like breakfast burritos and eggs benedict, but there are also more interesting offerings like that french toast and a fabulous pulled pork sandwich with seasoned fries. And before you even get your coffee, you’re handed a little basket filled with mini muffins. I love mini muffins.
And the sangria isn’t just cheap wine with apples and oranges dumped in; it’s filled with strawberries and cherries, and topped off with a little champagne and brandy. And! The whole thing – little muffin things, entree, and a cocktail – is $12.95. New favorite!
(Post provided by Jordan Reid and Ramshackle Glam)
Mint Juleps anyone? With its vintage vibe (mismatched antiques, retro wallpaper) and sinful Southern favorites (pig in a poke, shrimp & grits, biscuits and gravy), Tipsy Parson sort of feels like a visit to your hip Southern grandma’s parlor. That is, if your grandma lived in Chelsea.
Brunch at this cozy Chelsea hotspot is a boisterous, boozy affair with an abundance of Southern cocktails (try the namesake Tipsy Parson–an Arnold Palmer spiked with your choice of sweet tea vodka or Bourbon–or a frozen Bourbon Berry Bramble) and a hipster flannel-clad crowd to match. The food’s great too. Try the decadently creamy Shrimp & Grits ($15) or the perfect-for-fall Mushroom Toast ($16), sautéed wild mushrooms served over soft scrambled eggs, whipped ricotta, and grilled bread. If you’re in the mood for something sweet, don’t miss the Belgian Waffle ($16) with Bourbon-pecan butter, roasted apples, and whipped cream (do yourself a favor and share this with a friend!). No matter what, get an order of warm, flaky biscuits (either sweet or savory) for the table: preferably with the green tomato marmalade or the lemon curd. If the weather’s nice, head over to the High Line afterwards for a leisurely stroll (or a power-walk, depending on how many biscuits you ate!).
Great for: a date + entertaining visitors.
Cool Spot With Good Food To Match The Good Looks
Clover Club is an undeniably cool spot, with exposed brick walls, an inviting bar, and a young, hip clientele. Happily, though, the restaurant isn't trying to get by on looks alone.
The brunch menu is diverse, with a bit of a tilt toward upscale pub food like a tasty lamb burger with goat cheese ($12), house-cured Scottish salmon ($14), and a French Dip sandwich ($12). Other menu highlights include fluffy pancakes topped with creamy clouds of ricotta ($9), a bacon tasting ($9), and pork ‘n grits ($13). While we didn’t have dessert on our last visit, the Kentucky float – sweet corn ice cream with a float of bourbon and sarsaparilla – caught our eye, and we'll be back to give it a go ASAP.
In sum: friendly service, good looks, and satisfying food – what more could you ask for from brunch?
Crack Corn. Need I Say More?
As the founder of BrunchCritic and a self-proclaimed professional brunch enthusiast, I'm usually the person introducing others to fabulous new brunch spots. Recently however, a Park Slope local did the introducing, taking me out for a meal at Palo Santo. While I've certainly brunched in Park Slope before, this was by far my most memorable trip, and it all started with an absolutely spectacular brunch that shot straight to the top of my list of favorites.
Palo Santo specializes in Latin Cuisine, and has a fantastic prix fixe option and a great location. The back section of the restaurant is open and sun-filled - always a plus at brunch (although it should be noted that the front room is rather dark) - and would be great to rent out for a large birthday brunch (hint, hint to you Fall b-day babies).
The Huevos Banados (poached eggs, chile hollandaise, grilled bread, beans and avocado) were incredibly flavorful and a nice twist on the standard eggs benedict, but the dish I will remember most when I think of Palo Santo is the Crack Corn. Yup, that's what it's called - likely a nod to its unquestionably addictive properties. No illicit substances here, though: the dish is made with roasted corn, cheese, and sofrito (a popular base in many Latin dishes that includes a mixture of garlic, peppers, onions, tomatoes and other spices; see our BrunchCritic Glossary for more brunchie definitions).
Palo Santo's not about loud crowds or a trendy scene; it's packed with people who want to catch up with friends, eat mouthwatering dishes, and perhaps take a stroll through the neighborhood afterwards. What I love about my job is exposing the lesser-known places out there, and Palo Santo shouldn't be missed. And since this is NYC's prime time for beautiful weather, be sure to get your fall foliage fix in Prospect Park once you're done with your meal, or venture a little further to hit up the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens or the Prospect Park Zoo.
Prix Fixe Recap:
$16 includes warm blueberry bread to start, an entree, a cocktail or juice, and coffee or tea. Every additional glass of sangria or mimosa is only $1.
Sit in the back. Try the Huevos Banados and Crack Corn. Bring a group, and plenty of dollar bills for those extra glasses of sangria. Take advantage of the proximity to Prospect Park with a stroll after your meal.
Special shout out to my Park Slope pal Lindsey. Thanks for the introduction to Palo Santo! * Palo Santo is participating in Dine Out Irene. A portion of their brunch sales Sept. 25th will go to NY-area farms devastated by the hurricane.
44 ½ is chic, delicious, and cheerful - the perfect place to bring everyone from your in-laws to your hot date, to your tough-to-please foodie best friend. The menu choices, as with the restaurant's neighbor, 44 & X Hell's Kitchen, are inventive twists on the classics: insanely decadent, pecan-studded brioche French toast, or an upscale version of a classic bacon-and-egg sandwich with melted white cheddar.
The brunch menu also includes a number of interesting lunch offerings, such as thin-crust pizzas with unexpected toppings (try the lobster; it's fantastic). The high ceilings create some troublesome acoustics, but the relentlessly friendly staff (charismatic and film-star-handsome owner Scott Hart can nearly always be found bopping between the tables, greeting regulars and making new friends) makes the restaurant feel cozy and inviting.
The décor deserves special mention, as everything from the curving walls to the impossibly pretty bathrooms, to the spectacular bouquets by the door makes a lasting impression. In the summertime, the backyard garden is strung with hanging lights that make you forget you're in a city...much less mere blocks from the Theater District.
- Try the Bloody Mary made with house-made blue cheese-stuffed olives and jalapeno vodka - it's the perfect remedy for a Hell's Kitchen hangover.
- Buy one of their famous tees (we like "Toasted / Baked")
Good for groups: Yes
Date Spot: Yes
Public contains clever nods to public buildings in New York City embedded in the decor, and equally playful flavor combinations on their menu. Bring your friends and a sense of adventure, and you’ll be rewarded for it. Sit in the skylit main room, or at a balcony fashioned from an old loading dock and enjoy the laid back neighborhood vibe.
Public had everything my food-loving, writerly heart desired. At the front desk stood: a cordial maitre d’; a cup of happy, yellow No. 2 pencils; and old-fashioned PO boxes, which you can reserve to get a different wine each month. A few more steps inside reveals a card catalog with worn books and a typewriter sitting on top. I was already won over, and I hadn’t even sat down. Our menus (on clipboards) were lists of eyebrow-raising flavor combinations. The coconut pancakes with fresh ricotta, mango salad, and lime ginger syrup were intoxicating. Though I’m usually an avid food-sharer, I found myself reluctant to give my friend a taste. The salad of herby lentils, avocado, and toasted pecans, with pomegranate molasses dressing may not be your idea of a traditional brunch dish, but it’s definitely worth a try. All the tastes and textures complimented each other without becoming overwhelming. We also loved the salty dog cocktail with fresh squeezed grapefruit juice and smooth sake, not to mention the fig vanilla bellini, which had strong layers of rich, dusky flavors without being too sweet. Sit at a long table behind sheer curtains, in the skylit main room, or in the open air at a balcony fashioned from a loading dock. No matter where you sit, you’ll feel welcome. Public is a solid neighborhood spot with a diverse clientele that isn’t busy acting too cool for school.
If you want a bustling, buzz filled spot for brunch with fabulous cocktails and even more fabulous people-watching (and stellar food to match), Locanda Verde is your place. Set in a stunning light-drenched, high-ceiling, rustic-industrial space in the Greenwich Hotel, this place never slows down. Start off with a Tre Stelle mimosa ($11) – Prosecco mixed with their house blend of pomegranate juice, blood orange juice, and Valencia orange juice (quite possibly the best mimosa I’ve ever had) and their sheep’s milk ricotta with truffle honey and burnt orange toast ($14). The Zucchini Fritata with Basil, Sundried Tomatoes, and Goat Cheese ($15) is divine, as is the Crispy Polenta Waffle with Walnuts, Marsala Cream, and Apple Syrupb($14). If you’re still hungry, finish up with a homemade Nutella cookie ($2) and a cup of coffee ($4). Cheap, this place is not, but you’d be hard pressed to find a more fun and delicious brunch south of 14th street.
Also, a word to the wise: if you show up without reservations and they say it’s at least an hour, you can go have drinks in the hotel lobby while you wait (as the bar is usually too full to find a seat).
Fig & Olive, a narrow venue, was populated on Sunday afternoon, but well worth the brief wait. The waitstaff was amiable and very attentive, and the atmosphere was cheery if a bit on the noisy side. The menu is varied, with some classic brunch items, and many more in the lunch category. The fig & walnut pancakes ($13), complete with fig-infused maple syrup, were exceptional. The pancakes were incredibly thick, but very airy, fluffy, and delicious. The figs added a lovely flavor and texture. The eggs benedict with rosemary ham ($14) was also beautifully prepared. The rosemary complemented the hollandaise sauce and egg very well, and lent new complexity to this old standby dish. The mimosa and bellini ($12) were enjoyable, with other, more inventive options on the cocktail list. Overall, Fig & Olive is an excellent choice for a weekend brunch that will leave you appetite sated and taste-buds satisfied.
Natural woods and exposed brick abound at this cozy, West Village café—the perfect backdrop for the beautiful (in a scruffy, just-rolled-out-of-bed sort of way) young things packed into its narrow tables. Expect to wait at prime brunch times, though if you can snag a seat at the bar, it’s not half bad. We ordered Irving Mills coffee while we waited, and it came in nifty aluminum mugs that magically stay cool on the outside while keeping the coffee piping hot inside…genius. The Mediterranean-influenced menu features E.V.O.O. in nearly every dish (duh), though we could have sworn their crisp Frites with Gorgonzola Fondue were too sinful to include so healthful an ingredient. (That didn’t discourage us from polishing off an order!) Don’t miss the roasted Provencal Artichoke with poached egg and crunchy pancetta bits or the Virgin Frittata with goat cheese, arugula, roasted tomatoes, and a drizzle of pesto. The star of the brunch, however, came at the end: the Banana French Toast. Perfectly crisp triangles of French toast drenched in browned butter caramel, caramelized bananas, and a dollop of mascarpone had us nearly licking the plate clean. We showed restraint, though next time we may not be so civil.
Your first impression of Prime Meats may be that the place is...well, a bit cold.
The servers, with their Amish-lumberjack-by-way-of Brooklyn look, are decidedly solemn. The farmhouse-style dining room is sunlit, yet stark. Chances are you’ve heard that the food at Prime Meats is good, but you also probably know that the food here is serious (any restaurant that talks about its food “philosophy” on its website is clearly not just shoveling out the chow).
But as soon as the savory, comforting - and impressively affordable - dishes start arriving at your table, any lingering chill dissipates. The egg and Gruyere sandwich on a homemade buttermilk biscuit ($6.50) is to die for, and the French toast ($11) is perfectly fried - almost caramelized. The small menu has a Germanic feel, and includes steak, eggs, and potato rosti ($15), as well as mushrooms with poached eggs & bratwurst ($13). Diners can also order pastries a la carte, plus sides of bacon, sausage, bratwurst, and avocado.
Prime Meats is a restaurant that pays attention to the details of their offerings, from the house-made baked goods to the superior syrup served alongside the excellent French toast. The food certainly left us feeling warm and cozy...so maybe a little philosophy served up alongside your scramble isn't such a bad thing, after all.
One of a few popular brunch spots on Ft. Greene’s bustling Dekalb Avenue, The General Greene packs them in on the weekends. Regulars expect decent service, as well as good food with manageable portion sizes. A wide-ranging menu offers something for nearly everyone, from a spicy, toasty Cuban sandwich ($9) to organic egg dishes and salads. Most dishes are hits, including the ultra-indulgent raspberry French toast ($12) and the satisfying egg and gruyere sandwich ($6). Less enticing is the more oily-than-cheesy macaroni and cheese ($8), but that’s a rare misstep from a busy kitchen dedicated to using top-quality ingredients.
- Notable French Toast
- Good for small parties of 2-4
- Appeals to foodies and middle-of-the-road eaters alike with a sunny space, fantastic menu, and reasonable prices
- Lively, young crowd
- Reservations accepted for 6 or more
- Small gourmet grocery located in the back
Not that we are biased or anything, but this Carroll Gardens hotspot might just be the perfect brunch spot. Everything about Buttermilk Channel--from the light-filled blue, white, and natural wood interior, to the friendly service, to the crisp font on the menu--breathes casual perfection. Unfortunately, they are only open Sundays for brunch. Get there early (they open at 10 a.m.) or plan on waiting at least 45 minutes. (But if you do get there early, be forewarned that their "free mimosa, bellini, or sparkling wine" brunch special does not start until noon.) We recently enjoyed a brunch on the sunny front terrace and started off with a short stack of their incredibly light, fluffy buttermilk pancakes ($5) with warm maple syrup. We admired the decadent Pecan Pie French Toast ($10, with Bourbon, molasses, toasted pecans, and freshly whipped cream) on our neighbor's plate, but decided to try the fresh apple cider donuts ($2 each) instead. Second course consisted of the A-B-C Grilled Cheese ($11) and sweet-savory combo of apples, double-smoked bacon, and New York cheddar served panini style. The ultra-fresh shaved asparagus and radish salad ($7), dressed in a zippy lime vinaigrette with buttery bibb lettuce, was the perfect foil for all the rich food. Warm, relaxed ambiance, friendly servers, excellent food, reasonable prices--you really can't ask for much more in a brunch spot. Too bad we don't live in Brooklyn...