Category Archives: Brunch

Jane on Fillmore: a neighborhood café to die for

JAne

As bustling of a food-city that San Francisco is, I’ve always been disappointed by the lack of bakeries or coffee shops with awesome home-baked goods. New York City is chock-full of them – from Amy’s Bread to Billy’s Bakery, there’s a bakery available to the cookie obsessed and the cake fanatics in every neighborhood. Sure, San Fran has a few cupcake shops (I love Kara’s cupcakes off Chestnut), and incredible artisanal bakeries that aren’t as accessible to the Pacific Heights resident (Tartine is amazing), but homey cafés with an abundance of cakes, muffins, cookies, scones, and other butter, flour & sugar concoctions are SERIOUSLY lacking. Maybe my 4 years working at UC Davis’s Coffee House, which pumped out cakes (and cookie samples) by the hour, caused my withdrawal. Whatever it is, it’s a well justified concern.

jane from second floor

jane from second floor

Thankfully, Jane on Fillmore street has recently come to the rescue. Over the last few weeks of fun-employment, despite having the chance to explore all my neighborhood has to offer, I just can’t get enough of this café’s almond milk cappuccinos and scrumptious baked goods. The plentiful case displays more than enough options, but I can proudly say that I’ve pretty much tried every single one of them. They’ve got a buttery citrus brioche. A savory scone with ham, chives and cheese. Banana bread – both vegan and regular. A vegan pumpkin chocolate chip muffin for those sweet-craving mornings. The blueberry-banana muffin for the days I’m pretending to eat a healthy breakfast. There’s also a “Cooking for Breakfast” cookie that’s subtly sweet and stuffed with dried fruit and oats, for those who those who like that sort of thing. The cookies – which include flavors like sprinkles, salted white chocolate chip oatmeal, chocolate chocolate chip, chocolate toffee chip, and peanut butter-quinoa-millet are to die for, especially the ones that sandwich a scoop of cream cheese frosting. As I write this blog, I’m noshing on a “Crazy Cookie” filled with chips, chocolate chips, toffee, and marshmallow. True, it doesn’t get much crazier than this.

cappuccino

cappuccino

my fantasy display case

my fantasy display case

cake of the day

cake of the day

savory quiche

savory quiche

But that’s not all – Jane has amazing food to order as well, all homemade and most of the time organic. The granola – both vegan and regular – is like crack. I’ve bought them both, and I eat the oats by the handful. The breakfast sandwiches, like the one with egg, cheese, avocado, and roasted tomatoes stacked between two thick-cut pieces of griddled sourdough bread, are the perfect hangover helper. And the salads (there are about 10 of them) are fresh, healthy, and delicious, especially the ones with their house-made green goddess dressing. And how could I forget the energizing green smoothie with apple, lemon, kale, and ginger?

chopped veggie salad with green goddess dressing

chopped veggie salad with green goddess dressing

salad nicoise

salad nicoise

smoked salmon platter

smoked salmon platter

egg white breakfast sandwich

egg white breakfast sandwich

The space itself is beautiful as well – the natural light and the black and white motif are the perfect setting for zoning out on a laptop. And, though it’s always bustling in here, the energy is contagious, not overwhelming.

To put it lightly, I am freakishly obsessed with this place, and I fear that my pre-business school food budget is going to rapidly dwindle if my daily habit continues. But when I’m saddened by the thought of a day without a creamy almond milk cappuccino, I realize that it’s totally worth chipping into my school books’ budget. I’m just waiting for the day that the barista remembers my name.

Grade: A+
Location: 2123 Fillmore between Sacramento and California Streets
Website

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Filed under Brunch, Cheap Eat, Erin's Favorites, San Francisco

The Palm Court at the Plaza: tea time, anyone?

Justyn @ Plaza

Justyn @ Plaza

Scones, clotted cream, tea
Fancy forks and velvet chairs
Hellof expensive

I never thought I’d add high tea at the Plaza to my New York bucket list, but when my sister invited me to join her with her friend Nicole, it suddenly became a pre-move-to-SF priority. Plus, I grew up fantasizing about the Plaza as an avid Elouise fan. Before I could read, my sister would pretend that this said book was oddly written all about me, so imagining myself jumping around the hotel was often how I’d fall asleep. To be here today as an adult, sipping tea as a civilized New Yorker, happy and independent…well it just brought a warm and fuzzy feeling of nostalgia.

Until I was told we would be charged $20 per person to share any of the four assorted finger food selections. At $60 for an individual order, I should’ve assumed as much. Fortunately, my annoyance only slightly disrupted the beauty of the grand and uniquely ornate surroundings.  

We selected the afternoon tea and shared the New Yorker, which came with a selection of mini sandwiches, lemon scones with clotted cream, lemon and jam, and sweet treats, all a notch less fancy than the “Fitzgerald Tea for the Ages.” And while “they” call it “tea”, it soon became much more of a food test than a sipping tea fest. I sampled every sandwich (microscopic bites since we were sharing between 3), and the smoked salmon with endive was by far the best. The other two were delicious – roquefort with grapes, and a crispy prosciutto with mozzarella and pesto. The cucumber was not cold and crispy enough, and far too heavy on the whipped cream cheese.

Me & platter

Me & tower

Nicole & Justyn & platter

Nicole & Justyn & tower

The scone, a very important part of tea, was crumbly, buttery, lemony, and perfect with the clotted cream and sweet additions. It was enough dessert on its own, but that didn’t stop me from sampling each of the bite-sized desserts on plate 3 – the cream-filled profiterole was the best.

The best deal here, however, is the $30 Elouise tray for children. Nicole’s daughter lucked out with her own, 3-tiered tower filled with a PB&J, cucumber sandwich, strawberry sandwich, and a few others, a scone, and a ton of desserts that looked better than our adult ones (like a white chocolate dipped strawberry and a pink oreo…so unfair). I took a few bites here and there, and while the PB&J was a little on the stale side, I’ll say this much – if you can pass for an 11 year old, I would come here to order this and call it a day.

heaven for a child.

heaven for a child.

Will I be back? Not on my paycheck. Did I feel super sophisticated and rich eating there? Yes. Quintessentially New York? Absolutely. Was it worth it? Totally.

So America, here you have it. Tea at the Plaza Hotel.

a horrible photo of all of us.

a horrible photo of all of us.

Grade: B+ (food only)
Location: The Plaza. Do I even need to explain?
Website

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Filed under Brunch, Business Meal, Midtown East, Midtown West, Upper West Side

Lafayette: neck and neck with Balthazar as my favorite brasserie

dj-laf-blog480

Balthazar is one of the few restaurants that has remained one of my favorites since since moving to New York 5 years ago (I still can’t get over how long it’s been). I love it for the atmosphere – the hastiness of the waitstaff zooming by, the energy of the people in the room, the wide brasserie style seating, and I go back each time of course for the food and drink – the amazing bread and butter, the simple salads, the hot fudge covered profiteroles, and the shockingly strong French 75’s get me every time. Everything about this place screams New York brasserie, which Keith McNally seems to do so well.

Never did I ever imagine that a newcomer could one up such a longstanding New York staple, but after my epic experience at beautiful Lafayette last Tuesday, I think Balthazar may need to up its game to remain the king of the brasserie crop. Lafayette, which took over the massive Chinatown Brasserie space, is a beautifully spacious, well-lit and enchanting French brasserie that transports you from New York city to a fantasy land (think Great Gatsby) where there’s not a care in the world. I walked in and gasped – a delectable boulangerie with mounds of pastries welcomes you at the entrance, and with staircases and side-by-side booths to optimize the space, there really doesn’t seem to be a bad table in the house. And just like Balthazar, there’s this inescapable and addictive vibrancy – everyone is more alive than ever: happy, hungry and actively people watching.

lafayette bakery

grandiose bakery upfront

Service was humble and spot on. After a few slices of the rustic sourdough bread with salted butter and a delicious glass of champagne (cremant de Bourgogne), we were served Eggs Lafayette, essentially two stuffed hard boiled eggs with sable fish and trout caviar. Absolutely heaven on earth, and pretty much the best, most unique rendition of deviled eggs I’ve ever had. Next was the Pate Maison, which came with brown ceramic jars of unlimited cornichons (great touch) and brown mustard and grilled rustic bread. This paired well with the massive, lightly dressed butter lettuce salad with roquefort and country ham. RARELY am I impressed by a salad, but this was so fresh, light and stunning with the creamy blue cheese. I was dying for a pasta, but in an effort to eat lightly I went for the steamed trout, served with an utterly flavorful bean and tomato “mush” that I couldn’t get enough of.

Dessert was insane too. Hot fried beignets with chocolate mousse fulfilled my craving for something classic, and the Sweet Cheese Cremant with blueberry sorbet proved that there’s more than just traditional dishes at this place. By the end of the meal, I was reluctant to leave our cozy booth for two, but I have every intention of coming back next week for a bowl of the gorgeous black fettuccine that was served to my neighbor.

pate maison (photo from seriouseats)

pate maison (photo from SeriousEats)

blueberry cremant (photo from SeriousEats)

blueberry cremant (photo from SeriousEats)

Compared to Balthazar, I think the standout difference of Lafayette is its slightly more elegant setting and menu (and a few more pastas) – Balthazar is just a touch more core to its rustic French brasserie roots. Either way, it’s going to be a real toss up the next time I’m in the mood for French food.

Grade: A+
Location: 380 Lafayette Street at the corner of Great Jones and Lafayette
Website:

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Filed under Brunch, Business Meal, Erin's Favorites, French, Fun Group Dinner, New American, Noho

Barrio Chino

On rare occasions I wake up craving a hearty breakfast, and when I do, that hearty breakfast has got to be laden with beans, cheese, and salsa. Yesterday morning, after a routine late night at the Rusty Knot, I couldn’t focus on anything else but getting some rendition of huevos rancheros in my belly. After passing Dos Toros, which had no egg option, the perfect spot suddenly occurred to me – Barrio Chino in the Lower East Side. This place is constantly packed. I’ve never walked by without seeing a group of people waiting for a table. But after I called to confirm that there was (shock!) no wait at 12pm on a Saturday, I trotted a little more quickly with THE number one breakfast of champions guaranteed in my future.

I LOVE Barrio Chino’s brunch menu (I had to check it on the iPhone before getting there), which includes 5+ egg options, homemade corn tortillas,  their regular tacos and entrees, and any side you could dream of. I got the Huevos a la Mexicana, which came scrambled with chiles, onions, and tomatoes, a side salad, earthy black beans with queso fresco and a hot corn tortillas. I added (of course) guacamole, more queso, and chorizo. I needed grease people. When the plate arrived, I died, significantly more excited than what the community has been labeling as their reaction to a hot plate of food, and I did not hesitate to launch into my mini-burrito-makin’ party. Corn tortilla, dollap of beans, egg, cheese, guac, salsa, and chorizo, wrap that puppy up and shove it in my mouth.

My mission to feed the beast was a success, in fact, I felt full until around 9pm that night. Next time I have another NEED MEXICAN NOW episode during the day, Barrio Chino will for sure be my place of choice.

Grade: A
Location: 253 Broome Street between Orchard and Ludlow
Website

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Filed under Affordable Date, Beans and Rice, Brunch, Erin's Favorites, Lower East Side, Mexican

ABC Kitchen

I’ve been to the holy ABC Kitchen a few times but every New Yorker knows that it’s next to impossible to get a reservation at a decent hour, or essentially anything after 5:30pm. I don’t generally mind an early bird special but given my work schedule, like most people I simply can’t make this happen. Well, last Monday, I was ecstatic when I found out that my date scored an 8pm reservation. After a year since my last visit with my friend Sonia, I couldn’t wait to try all of the new fresh things on this brilliant, gorgeously designed menu.

Half of ABC Kitchen’s appeal is the feeling I get when I enter, which is the aggregate effect of the restaurant’s every intricate detail. The delicate white china, the white lacquered tables, the graceful font on the menus, the dim lighting and votive candles, the background music, the wide open dining room, and the efficient but unobtrusive service collectively create an atmosphere that you don’t want to leave. It’s the perfect mix of casual California and sceney New York. But the scene is replicated no where else…just a little more refined than Barbuto, a little more casual than Mas Farmhouse…and it hits just the right note for me when I want to have a memorable meal out any day of the week.

The other half of the draw is of course, the insane offering of local, organic food (and drink -. No need for lengthy descriptions – you’re served exactly what the few words on the menu say you’ll be served. Who knew that something so straight forward as heirloom tomato toast could be as sensuous and flavorful as it is here? Thinly sliced bright red tomato, salt, pepper, and olive oil on a perfectly toasted rustic bread happened to be my heaven that night. Just as delicious but a step up on uniqueness was the delicata squash with maple syrup and grated goat cheese, which was shaped and lusciously fried like a crispy creme donut. Like the fried bananas my mom loves at Filipino restaurants, it was crispy on the outside and soft and sweet on the inside, and made complete by the dusted salty parmesan. The ricotta cavatelli came with an overload of pan seared shrimp that was absolutely perfect, soft, delicate, and easy to chew (sorry but just admit that shrimp is painful to chew sometimes), and the pork sausage on the fennel sausage pizza made every bite taste sinfully fatty and earthy. Every single dish did the job it set out to do – highlight each of its awesome, local components. The only disappointment was the boring shredded kale salad that I simply couldn’t bother eating because of all of the better options distracting me. 

heirloom tomato toast (photo from NY Post)

crispy squash

kale salad

scallop ceviche

I love dessert here. It took me everything to bypass the caramel ice cream sundae with popcorn and go for the cookie plate with chocolate-covered marshmallow cookies, but a side of caramel ice cream did the trick. Hard to be impressed with a plate of tiny cookies. The concord grape tart is something I never would have ordered myself but was actually interesting and delicious.

After four years of blogging, I’m starting to crack the recipe for my all time favorite restaurants. It must be casual but tasteful in setting. It must create the feeling of coziness even if it’s not cozy in space terms. It has to feel intimate. The menu is heavy on vegetables, seafood and sharable plates. It generally has a flatbread or a pizza. The cocktails are awesome. ABC Kitchen fulfills all of these requirements – I just wish I could go without fear of an hour long wait!

Grade: A
Location: 35 east 18th street (between broadway & park avenue)
Website 

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Filed under American, Brunch, Californian Cuisine, Erin's Favorites, Fun Group Dinner, Parents in Town, Romantic Date, Union Square

Bakehouse Bistro & Bar

bakehouse inside

I thank goodness everyday that Bakehouse, the consummate neighborhood restaurant and bakery, operates directly across the street from me. Since it opened a year or two ago, it’s difficult to find an excuse to eat elsewhere when I revert to Lazy Erin and I can’t find any better nearby spot for breads and croissants. Bakehouse is perfect for any occasion, and I don’t just say that because I live conveniently a few yards away. On weekends it’s a cozy brunch spot with a mushroom, truffle, and asiago omelette and crispy ricotta pancakes; everyday of the week it’s a cozy setting for cappuccino + chocolate brioche laptop sessions, a vibrant spot for bar-seating and cocktails, and a bakery calling my name for that regrettable post-dinner cookie or chocolate-almond croissant. Bakehouse has also created the perfect cabin-like set up for a low key dinner with good music and comforting food. So after a day in the cold rain and the face breakout of the century, I couldn’t imagine a better, darker place to meet my co-workers.

their amazing omelette

I wouldn’t expect such a homey place like Bakehouse to have the inventive cocktail menu that it does, but it’s the number one reason I go here. The restaurant is full of high tops and bar seating, perfect for the many solo neighborhood diners or the ladies desperately looking to strike up a conversation with the cute (and wonderfully kind) Australian bartender. Last night, though, my friends and I sat at a four-top, stuck to wine and focused on the food. We started with a truffled mac and cheese that was to die for. Just as I am with Stouffer’s, after years of eating Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, it’s tough to be impressed by the real deal (same thing with brownies – Duncan Hines is just so much better than homemade), but Bakehouse scored big time with this one. The flat dish maximized the surface area for crispy, cheesy crust and each penne piece was coated with thick, truffley white cheese. We paired that with another healthy appetizer of fried ham and manchego croquettes, a pickled beet salad, and salmon tartare. The croquettes are essentially fried balls of mashed potatoes, so a little more texture would have made these pretty addictive. The salad was just fine, but essential with the surrounding food. the salmon tartare was delicious spread on a thin crostini, but I could have done without random bites of grapefruit. For our next round of food, we had the serrano ham with rustique toasted baguette that came doused in a garlicky saffron aioli. I am a die hard mayonnaise-hater but this was actually delicious, with bread toasted just enough to allow for easy crunching.

balls and mac and cheese

salmon tartare

When the dessert menu came out, my friend exclaimed “how can a place call themselves Bakehouse but have only three options for dessert?!” I agreed, but I know for a fact that the pastry chef, Walter, recently left. The abundance of cookies has also been looking pretty weak these days. We asked the manager who came by to ask us about our meal, and he said they were working on a few new items (possibly an ice cream sandwich!), and that not to fear, more options are in the near future. That satisfied us enough to order two out of the three – a tart tatin, and some ridiculously good vanilla ice cream profiteroles doused in dark chocolate. I sucked those puppies down pretty quickly – it doesn’t get much better than warm chocolate fudge. I was so full by the time I left, I couldn’t even taste the cookies that the owner kindly gave us on our way out.

Bakehouse has a little work to do on some of its food, but with the menu, the atmosphere, and the service considered, I absolutely love this airy, wooden tavern. And now that it has outdoor seating looking onto the Hudson River (and a truck lot), I have no doubt that this will be my go-to for all seasons.

Grade: A-
Location: 113 Horatio Street @ West Street
Website (which sadly needs a style upgrade)

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Filed under American, Brunch, Erin's Favorites, Fun Group Dinner, West Village

Maharlika: Brunch

You should all know by now that Maharlika is one of my favorite restaurants in the city. I’m in awe that they’ve figured out the perfect menu and space to introduce Filipino food in an approachable, non-intimidating way without removing its essence. After growing up eating traditional Filipino food either at home or on styrofoam plates in malls, eating adobo while sipping delicious cocktails and listening to hip hop throwbacks at Maharlika feels like I’m reliving my childhood on mushrooms. It’s a good thing.

I’ve been craving a solid Filipino meal since I returned to New York, so my friend Lauren and I decided to meet at Maharlika for brunch today. You can always expect a crowd at this place, especially considering their constant press – check out Chef Miguel’s feature in last week’s NY Mag. Fortunately, we got my favorite table for two right near the bar. I’m a creature of habit and ordered my childhood favorite with a twist – fried egg over rice with fried milk fish and a side of cucumber salsa. Lauren had the fried chicken and ube waffle, served with a velvety, buttery caramel sauce that I’m pretty sure has crack in it. While sipping mango and kalamansi mimosas we stuffed our faces, dipping our meats in suka (garlicky, flavorful vinegar), patis, and bird chilis to spice things up.

Dasilog

Filipino Pride Chicken ‘N’ Ube Waffle

Owner Nicole was nice enough to bring out my favorite dessert here – the ube ice cream, along with a scoop of rich, bright green avocado and a subtly sweet mango ice cream. The coconut pudding, a relatively new addition to the menu, was a textural masterpiece with chunks of mango and crispy coconut.

Owner Nicole and Lauren

Honestly, I’ve never left this place disappointed. I just wish it were less than a 30 minute walk from my apartment. West village location next?

Grade: A++
Location: 111 First Ave @ 7th Street
Website: http://www.maharlikanyc.com

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Filed under Asian, Brunch

Vinegar Hill House

The main theme to the buzz around Vinegar Hill House in Brooklyn is that it’s delicious and in the middle of no where. Well, when I decided I wanted to venture across the Brooklyn Bridge this weekend, it happened to be one of the more convenient options on the map. Considering it was already 3pm and I hadn’t eaten more than a bite of a biscuit from Northern Spy Food Co. on the Highline (amaze), I was close to delirious by the time we got to the restaurant. Was I excited for a fat Brooklyn hipster sandwich!

Well, sadly, my dreams were crushed when I looked at the paltry menu filled with a few egg options, a grapefruit with shrimp paste, and a tuna sandwich, my least favorite type. I didn’t want to eat breakfast at 3pm (or fish flavored fruit). I wanted something fresh and green. But, situated in the dessert of Vinegar Hill, we didn’t have much choice but to suck it up and pick the most savory, lunch-esque items on the menu – fried oysters and the tuna sandwich. Though the fried oysters were perfectly meaty, crisp and well rounded with the tangy mustard sauce, I was yearning for a refreshing meal on such a scorcher of a day. The tuna sandwich was laden with runny mayonnaise – mayo lovers may have adored this, but I was traumatized after taking a few bites. Fortunately, it was served with a thick, rich, and flavorful tomato soup that helped fill me up.

fried oysters

All hating aside, the place is adorable and homey a la Freeman’s in the LES, and the back patio seems like the perfect casual place to have an outside supper. The vintage bar leads to the small open kitchen with a wood fire oven, and the well-dressed staff all seem to be accommodating and friendly. It almost feels like you’re visiting your friend’s apartment, and the basic hearty food fits well with the setting.

I will not return for brunch – I need more lunch food variety when I’m starving midday. I would, however, consider going back for dinner if I’m ever in the area. Though I’m usually underwhelmed by the trend of these homey, basic food spots, apparently their desserts are to die for…

Grade: C+
Location: 72 Hudson Ave between Water St & Front St
Website:  www.vinegarhillhouse.com

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Filed under Affordable Date, American, Brooklyn, Brunch, Drinks & Apps

Felix

Soho is the reason I fell in love with New York so many years ago. The shops, the cobble stone streets, the feeling of continually shining sun, Dean and Deluca…the list of why I feel giddy every time I’m in this neighborhood goes on and on. Sadly, though, after getting to know the area intimately, I’ve concluded that the good brunch spots aren’t as prevalent as one would expect for such a shopping-dense area. Lord knows that I get hungriest after two hours of trying on clothing, but every weekend, I confront the same debate – where to rid of my hunger pangs and evaluate my bad purchasing decisions?

Generally, I fall back on Antique Garage, Cafeteria, or Balthazar – all awesome spots. But when you want to bask in the sun, there aren’t many options aside from Dos Caminos. Well this weekend, my sister shined light on a placed called Felix for my birthday brunch treat, and it was actually pretty solid. Somewhat of a rough-around-the edges Lucky Strike or Balthazar, it serves the purpose of offering a varied menu of food you would want whether you’re craving American or French brunch. Great outdoor tables for two in the shining sun, off the craziness of Broadway, and efficient service. They also take reservations, which helps to avoid the crazy brunch wait lines in this city.

omelette – fries were a little rubbery

After investigating other tables’ orders, we decided to share the salade chevre chaud and a mushroom and spinach omelette. The omelette comes with both fries and salad – something I appreciate greatly, and the chevre was plentiful, crispy, salty, and perfect on top of a crusty piece of baguette. Though the salad was a little over-dressed, and the fries weren’t impressive, overall the food and service was solid, and I was as happy as I could be on a warm day with half of our bodies in the sun.

salad chevre chaud

Adding Felix to my list of open-air reprieve-spots in Soho after intense shopping. Don’t come expecting stellar cuisine, but come knowing you’ll have your stomachs filled and a good dose of relaxation in the sun.

Grade: B
Location: 340 West Broadway @ Grand Street
Website: www.felixnyc.com

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Filed under Brunch, Soho

Beaumarchais – brother in law bday brunch

Since my sister’s wedding I’ve been nonstop. I’m not sure if it was the residual excitement from the Miami weekend that has motivated me to say Yes to every possible event, but I’m paying for it now by confronting my outdated blog and uselessly fighting an illness that’s slowly taking over. Yes, I deserve it, and yes, there’s  part of me that is happy to have an excuse to sprawl on my couch and stare at the TV.

But, it doesn’t mean I can’t re-live the good moments that have happened in recent past, one of which was my brother in law’s birthday bash at Beaumarchais. He and I happen to share May 7 as a birthday, but turning a big 3-0, he decided to reach for the sky and planned a Meatpacking brunch the same day as Cinco de Drinko, the Supermoon, and the Kentucky Derby. All stars were aligned to make it a day of insanity.

pre brunch festivities

After starting the day off at my sister’s apartment with my world-famous white sangria (Amy I give you permission to sue), we skipped three blocks to the infamous Beaumarchais, where day turns into night the second you enter. Sure enough, we walk in, and in close-to-pitch black dark there are strobe lights competing for stardom with a mariachi band and a techno DJ. Our group of 15 really had no choice but to put our party hats on. We were seated at a large table, and over the course of 4 hours, we were served appetizers, entrees and magnums of vodka all while dancing on our chairs. We really didn’t have a choice – there’s not much room to dance on the ground, and with everyone around you elevated, you feel like a straight loser ignoring it. Before the end of the day our entire table was standing – some even with plate and fork in hand – rocking out to Jay Z and Techno.

table getting down!

But, this is a food blog so I must focus. For $200 a person, it had better be good, right? Fortunately, it was, and with the experience included, it was worth it. Eating in the dark is not my favorite, but with sparklers flying around we were able to get a peek every now and then. We started with foie gras that was surprisingly delicious and served with toasted brioche, and tuna tartare served with plaintain chips. Large bowls of butter lettuce salad and caesar dressing were brought to the table, but those struggled to catch the eye of the crowd. Most impressive was the truffle gnocchi – little dumplings of creamy goodness. All together this could have been a meal, but we needed course number 2 for survival reasons. Many chose the burger which I tasted – nothing too impressive, but edible. My goat cheese omelet with spinach was delicious, but I had no intention of eating the whole thing. Dancing was on my mind.

Foie Gras

gnocchi

tuna tartare with plantain chips

omelette

For a large group brunch at Beaumarchais, you get a 2 course prix fixe menu. The birthday boy was sent out a massive Sundae (by a woman dressed in a Superman costume who flew out to the Superman theme song). But despite the food being semi-reasonably priced, expect to pay a ton for the alcohol – about $800 a magnum. And when you’re in that environment, don’t think you’ll be able to make rational decisions. I remember turning to Eli and saying, $800? That’s not that bad! Well, it was…

So, do you go to Beaumarchais for the food? Absolutely not. Why would you when there are dozens of other restaurants where you can hear your conversation? You go for the spectacle. It’s like the Euro-New York version of Tony and Tina’s Wedding – you’re part of the show. You go if you feel like raging in the middle of the day and spending like you’re a man at a club for the night. You go if you want to watch women dancing in bikinis at 3pm on a Saturday.

I wouldn’t do this every weekend, even every month, but an annual visit for that slap-in-the-face reminder of why New York is so unique is almost obligatory.

Grade: A for all around experience.
Location: 409 West 13th Street between Washington and 9th
Website: http://www.brasseriebeaumarchais.com

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Filed under Brunch, Meatpacking, Sex & The City Swank, West Village