Tag Archives: brunch

New Kid on the Block: Better Being 940

9 Dec

We live in a weird neighborhood. It’s stereotypically “up and coming” with a fine mixture of luxury apartment buildings, Starbucks, new restaurants, and homeless people. We even have a needle drop right next to a luxury hotel being built!  Gotta love NYC.

We always get excited about new restaurants opening up in the area (except when there are 4 Irish pubs opening within 3 blocks of each other in the same month… strange).  On his walk home, Mike mentioned there was a new brunch place on 9th Avenue and 40th Street, so last weekend, we went to check it out.

Better Being 940 had just opened its doors this week, but not really. The official opening is tomorrow, December 10th at 8am (with an “awesome assortment of baked goods, a yummy egg sandwich and complimentary Stumptown coffee”).  Besides having a name that I cannot possibly seem to remember, had all the makings for a place I wanted to love.

A fun  menu of things I wanted to try…

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With some of it written on a giant chalk board behind the register.

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And a quirky interior…

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Everyone behind the counter looked at us with the same glance as if to say “I put my heart into this joint so I hope you’re enjoy it!” Everyone that is, except our waiter. Who was confused by things like “water” and “allergy.” I’m not sure if he was nervous, new to the English language, or just confused in general, but we just scratched our heads and kept on trucking.

Mike ordered the meatloaf sandwich (which was supposed to come with fries or a salad… neither of which it did). The sandwich was just “ehh.”  Average with the arugula making it a bit too peppery.

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I ordered the very interesting sounding Souflancake. (“It’s not a souffle. It’s not a pancake. It’s both!”)

It came topped with “seasonal fruit” (berries in November)?

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I really, really, really wanted to like this.  But I couldn’t. It didn’t have the fluffiness of a souffle nor the breadiness of a pancake. It really just tasted like an egg omelet with fruit on top. And I just cannot wrap my head around eggs with fruit.

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We asked our very confused waiter about the bacon we ordered, and he said it was on its way.

Within moments, we smelled that great smell of bacon just starting to cook.

It was actually quite tasty, but VERY greasy. It could have used a pat down before being plated.

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Just as I was resigning myself to not like this place, despite its potential, a woman who must be an owner came out and offered us peanut butter rice krispie treats on the house. I used to make something similar with my mom as a kid, so the nostalgia was really enjoyable.

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As we were heading out, the same woman came up to us to ask how we liked it. I was very honest with her about the soufflancake, but her earnestness just made me feel so bad that I didn’t like it. I WANTED to like it.  This place has everything I love.  And I have hopes that once they get out these early kinks and test some recipes, they will have something great.

I hope I hope I hope!

For now, I will review it only on what we had, with a strong desire that next time we go back, it will be awesome.

Total Nom Points: 5.5 out of 10

Total Nom Points: 5.5 out of 10

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Garage

2 Aug

 

I went to meet up with Chef Bill and some of his friends to catch up at Garage Restaurant and Cafe in Greenwich Village. I know they have a Jazz Brunch, but for the life of me I don’t recall if I heard any music while we were there. I have to admit, however, we were quite rowdy, so I blame us entirely if we missed it.

 

Their weekend brunch menu is from 11am-4pm and includes an entree and Bloody Mary, Screwdriver, Mimosa, or OJ for $17.75.  Or you can make the alcohol unlimited for just an additional $6. Not a bad deal.  I’m pretty sure we all went for the bottomless option.

One person in our group tried the tuna burger. They had no complaints.

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The rest of us all got eggs of some kind.  

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Most of us got the Farmer’s Market Omelet with zucchini, tomatoes, asparagus, eggplant, and yellow squash with farm fresh eggs. They came with potatoes, but I went with salad (trying to be good).  This was surprisingly good. All those vegetables really made for a delicious omelet! 

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I didn’t have high expectations of this place. I don’t know what it was, but the moment we walked in there I figured it was probably a run-of-the-mill, busy brunch place. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked my veggie-filled omelet.  The deal is quite good, however, most of the benedict options require a good amount of extra money ($5-$10).  I’m not sure if I’d run to go back, but seems like a solid choice if you’re looking for a bite in the neighborhood.  And who doesn’t love a bottomless brunch drink?

Total Nom Points: 6.5 out of 10

 

Gabrielle Hamilton’s Prune

11 May

I really love books written by chefs about their adventures in food. Anthony Bourdain was my first and made me fall in love with reading about the inner workings of restaurants and chefery.  I read somewhere that HIS favorite food book was Blood, Bones & Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton and I quickly made the purchase on my Nook (ps- I love that thing… never thought I’d want anything besides a real book, but I have read more in the 6 months I’ve had it than the entire last 3 years combined).

I absolutely loved the book, and was especially excited to read the section about her starting a restaurant in NYC.  A restaurant I had been meaning to go to for quite some time: Prune.

We were going to go for Valentine’s Day, but then I was called out to LA for a work meeting, so we had to cancel that reservation. A few weeks later, on an idle weekend with nothing to do, we made our way down to the East Village and put our names on the list for brunch.  They don’t take reservations for brunch, and I was expecting a long wait. We decided we would stroll the neighborhood for a bit, but when they told us it would be just 45 minutes, we made it a quick stroll.  We came back 20 minutes later and were seated less than 10 minutes after that.  Lovely!

What I first noticed was that Prune is SMALL.  Even smaller than what I imagined from what she described in the book.

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We started our brunch with cocktails.  While Prune is known for their Bloody Mary’s, I don’t drink vodka (long story) and I’m allergic to peppers… So that pretty much eliminates me from the Bloody pool.  I went with some refreshing, citrusy cocktail that I can’t remember a thing about, other than that I really enjoyed it.

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Mike, on the other hand, was all over trying one of these famous Bloodys.  The menu of Bloody Mary’s is quite big and quite original (scroll down to the bottom here to see).  Mike chose the Chicago Matchbox, with homemade lemon vodka, pickled brussels sprouts, baby white turnips, caperberries, green beans, and radishes.

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 It was beautiful, and he was a big fan. He never really drinks Bloody Mary’s, but after this one, he has been trying more and more.

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For noms, Mike got the steak and eggs, which was a 7 oz. prime newport steak, grilled with parsley shallot butter and 2 eggs (he went sunny-side up) witha toasted english muffin and potatoes rosti.  This was SO good. The steak alone could rival any of the best steak restaurants in the city. Everything was cooked perfectly.

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I chose the dutch style pancake.  It was one individual pancake cooked in the oven, with pears, served with canadian bacon and potatoes rosti.  This thing was DELICIOUS.  The pancake was super fluffy with a bit of crisp on the outside.  It was sweet, but not too sweet, and had great flavor with the batter and the pear.  I thoroughly enjoyed this… probably more than any other pancake I’ve ever had.

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We walked away from Prune incredibly impressed.  The atmosphere was great, the drinks were great, and the food was great.  I love brunch, but find a lot of times it’s all the same. Here, it was brunch anew.  I cannot wait to go back and try more!  

Total Nom Points: 8 out of 10

The Sunburnt Calf

8 Aug

One of the first brunch places that made me fall in love with brunch was The Sunburnt Cow in the LES.  It was always a trek, however, to get to Avenue C.  So I was thrilled when they opened up a new place, called The Sunburnt Calf, on the UWS (79th between Broadway and Amsterdam).  Like The Cow, The Calf offers Endless Brunch, which is a selection of most brunch meals on the menu plus endless Moomosa’s, Moo Mary’s, Foster’s, Screwdrivers, and Greyhounds for $18. My mom, also being  a fan of The Cow, joined me for my first sampling of the Calf.

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The day we arrived it was HOT!  And the AC was not working.  We kept our menus to use as fans.

Mom got Eggs Benedict.

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I decided to try the omelette of the day, which was a Greek Omelette.

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It had feta and tomatoes and was supposed to have shrimp.  Sadly, they went a little skimpy on the fillings (and since it was $5 more, it seems pretty sad).

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Overall, it’s hard to beat endless brunch drinks at all.  This was a bit disappointing, however. Nothing was outstanding and the lack of filling in my omelette was a pretty poor performance.  The heat didn’t help at all.  I’ll give them another try, but this time was just… barely above average.

Total Nom Points: 5.5 out of 10

Total Nom Points: 5.5 out of 10

Albert Hall Tavern- Back for Brunch

9 Mar

Yes… I am writing another post about Albert Hall Tavern.  I can’t let new meals come up and not try them!

We managed to get there to try their brunch.  I was hoping a bit for some bumped up, fancy brunch choices.  But it’s mostly just the classics here.  Here’s the menu:

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Then they have a number of items from their dinner menu.

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Mike chose to get the smoked salmon bagel, which came with capers and smoked cream cheese.  The salmon was REALLY fresh and full of flavor.

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They had no fried potatoes of any kind (bummer), so we split my second favorite hangover brunch food… a side of the bacon (extra crispy).

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I got the eggs benedict with Canadian Bacon and “tomato hollandaise.” I’m not sure what made the hollandaise tomato, but it was good.  And the ham and eggs were cooked perfectly.  I wish it were served on a potato pancake, but that’s probably just my incredible fascination with fried potatoes during brunch.

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Albert Hall Tavern is one of the very few places in the neighborhood that do all-day brunch.  It has a lot of classic items, and while I like a little more panache in my brunch, this was still a very good classic brunch menu with well cooked comfort food.  (I just wish they had damn good potatoes! Or something like The Heap from Thumbs Up Diner.  I feel like Chef Bill could do a damn good heap)

Brunch at Bar Boulud

2 Dec

Mike and I have walked by Bar Boulud many times on the Upper West Side (Broadway between 63rd and 64th to be exact).  Mike and I were running some errands in the area and decided to grab brunch in the outdoor “patio” on a beautiful fall day.  I have realized that I LOVE to eat outside if not only for the fact that my photos turn out so much better in natural light.

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Right after our order was taken, we were presented with bread and pastry options.  Mike picked an impressive looking croissant.

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And I chose a cinnamon raison pastry (note: whenever faced with a choice of pastry, I will always choose something that looks like a cinnamon bun… always).  And it was gooooooood.

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Mike started with the Pâté Grand-mère, which I believe contained liver, pork, and something else… it was tasty, but I’m starting to discover that I may just not be a pâté person (not to mention the complexity in trying to type it in a blog with all those symbols!)

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I played a bit out of my usual sandbox and got the quiche of the day to start.

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It was very fresh with great flavors. Not too dense but not too light.  Great balance of flavors.

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Mike made a good choice with the Croque Madame. It was delish!

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I ordered the housemade tagliatelle pastacolorado lamb bolognese, because it just sounded too good to pass up.  It lived up to expectation!

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Even after all that food, we split the “floating island” which said it had praline rouge, crème anglaise.  I still don’t know what that is, and I still can’t tell you what we ate, other than it faintly resembled a meringue… but it was delicious.

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And quite beautiful to look at.

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AND we split my selection of the hazelnut chocolate torte (which I believe was their dessert of the day).  It came with cherries, pistacchio, almonds, and all sorts of other goodness that I can’t remember besides the fact that it was RICH and DELICIOUS.  Nom Nom Nom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Overall, I was very impressed by Bar Boulud.  This meal was $26 per person and included all 4 courses (bread & coffee were in there).  For a meal that counts as 2, I think that’s a steal for food this artfully prepared and with such fresh flavors.  Even if you don’t eat outside, the inside looked quite lovely.

Total Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10

Total Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10

Crustlesss Ham and Egg Tarts

26 Feb

I had seen this recipe a while back and was going to make it for the last family brunch, however, my sister doesn’t like ham, so I filed it away.  When I decided to have a brunch for six but knew I’d have very limited prep and cooking time, I pulled this one back out.  It has to be one of the easiest and most impressive looking brunch recipes I’ve ever seen!

You get sliced ham from the deli (go for the better stuff since it’s a big part of the dish) and lay it into greased muffin cups.  My ham was a bit thin, so I doubled up slices to prevent breakage.

Then you crack an egg in each and place a tomato in each cup.

Sprinkle with cheese.

And bake!  Voila!

It not only looked great, but it tasted great!  It looks so fancy, so it’s perfect for brunch, but it’s so quick and easy that it could definitely be an anytime breakfast!

You can find the full recipe at this link.  I went without the chives, and they tasted just fine. 🙂

 

Steak Frites

15 Jun

On various days, Mike and I will walk through the city in a single direction while looking at menus until something sparks our interest.  We’ve been pretty lucky in our “stumble upons” and Steak Frites on Varick at Clarkson (West Village) was no exception.

Since the inside was mostly red, I already liked it.

We were there right around late brunch time (it could have been linner by then) but we both still went for variations on egg dishes.  My dish was unbelievably good, with the exception of the egss being overpoached (why is this so common when mine turn out perfectly almost every time? Ok… I’m not a chef in a restaurant… maybe I shouldn’t say anything).  I think it was a special, since I can’t find it on their menu, but it was a parmesan (perfectly crispy) thick piece of toast with spinach, tomatos, poached eggs, bacon, hollandaise and shaved parmesan.  The blend of flavors was impressive.

Mike went with the steak and eggs, which seemed to be quite enjoyable (though also with overpoached eggs).

Total Nom Points: 7 out of 10