Having stayed in New York for only a week, I’m still missing and daydreaming about it like a silly girl in a long term relationship. So I decided to make this week’s posts all about New York. Usually when my friends are going there for a visit, one of the first things that they ask me is where to go for brunch. The answer gets more complicated than they’d like as there are too many variables such as location and food preferences. To make my life easier, I decided to write the answer ready to go right here. Categorized by neighborhoods here are my favorites:
Locanda Verde: My friend Marianna had made me walk all the way from Financial District as I, jet-lagged, kept whining “Are we there yet? We could have been gone some place closer.” As I was devouring the Hazelnut French Toast, I was thrilled that she had dragged me to go to this vivacious Italian. Other than the French Toast, the other must is the ricotta cheese with honey. Warning: It’s addicting.
Balthazar: I prefer going to wonderfully classic french bistro early week-days. I grab one of their copies of New York Times as I walk by the oak-lined bar, seafood displays on ice and marvelous cheese trays. I sit on one of the red booths and pick one of the fantastic egg dishes with difficulty, and read the paper along with the hums of classical music. If you go with a friend, don’t skip on the overwhelmingly large and delicious bread basket straight from their own bakery.
The Dutch: Located at a perfect corner on Sullivan, a cooler and younger alternative with a totally different ambiance, Locanda Verde’s chef Andrew Carmellini‘s always-crowded hip new restaurant will get you pumped up for a day of shopping in Soho. From the nouveau American menu, I particularly love their fluff, hearty omelette that combines some of my favorites ingredients: oyster mushroom, asparagus and goat cheese.
Market Table: Half store-half restaurant, I’ve always loved this friendly place with its sophisticated rustic cooking. Even on a rainy day of gloom, their open kitchen, large windows and high ceilings create a bright and fresh ambiance, their generous staff cheering you on. From the seasonal American menu, my favorite is the Eggs Benedict.
Prune: One of the few restaurants I don’t mind getting up early for. A line of hipsters and locals with coffee in their hands starts forming around 9:30. As this small and cute restaurant serves the best Bloody Mary I’ve ever had, it makes up for the wait. From the eclectic and phenomenal menu, I highly recommend the unpredictable stewed chickpeas and to share the Dutch-oven pancakes for dessert.
LOWER EAST SIDE:
Clinton Street Baking Company: Speaking of pancakes, here is another small restaurant that keep patrons wait for long hours on weekends, but for a good reason. The pancakes are to die for. My preference is the banana-walnut over blueberry, and if you’re getting something savory, make sure it comes with a freshly-baked biscuit. If you have a choice, try to go during week-days to this modest, diner-like restaurant.
Freemans: At the end of a hidden alleyway, you’ll find a place that feels more like a British hunting lodge, with geese and deers on the walls, vintage paintings and intimate dining rooms. I love coming to this warm gastro-pub Sunday afternoons, when the brunch rush has calmed down a bit. I love their savory dishes over sweet. Their burger is fantastic for hang-overs.
ABC Kitchen: Eco-friendly restaurant that serves only from local suppliers is best known for its organic produce. Located at the mega interior design store, the decor is shabby chic country meets Scandinavian coolness. Small brunch menu is to the point and delicately balanced. Each item on it is absolutely superb. A fun fact: you can also purchase the lovely dinnerware and furniture.
Taralucci e Vino: No tables available at ABC Kitchen? Worry no more. Just hop over a couple of blocks to this cozy Italian wine bar and grab yourself one of the best Italian coffee in town and get rid of your dissappointment with their divine pastries. Especially if you are in a hurry, this is the perfect quick stop for breakfast / brunch. Very Rome.
Café Lalo: I visited my sister when she was going to Columbia University. I was sixteen and because she was studying for the New York bar exam at the time, I had all this free time to wonder around the Upper Westside. My favorite place was the colorful, nostalgic, pseudo European Café Lalo. I used to manage picking a dessert from over a hundred on the window display, and write letters to Queen Z, telling her, “Decided! When I grow up, I will live in New York.” So despite the slow service, this cafe has a special place in my heart.
Café D’Alsace: Introduced to me by the local DJ. G, I immediately fell in love with their exquisitely colorful tiles, vintage seltzer bottles lined at the bar, and the old-fashioned posters on the walls. French menu with German influences, the front runner is their first-rate sausages. But feel free to order anything at this charming brassarie, you won’t be dissappointed.
I hope this inspires a visit. And please note that all these restaurants are also perfect for cocktails and dinner. Bon Appetite!