Tag Archives: Brunch

Unexpected Moroccan Flair: Claudette

Recently Faye and I decided to leave our glittering city to explore Morocco. I must say, from a cultural perspective, I haven’t been so taken aback by the sheer vibrancy of a people and place in quite some time. From the unique intersection of Arabic and French influences to the array of colors of zellij mosaics and endless courtyards with old-world intrigue to the simply breathtaking effect of the Saharan desert, Morocco is surely a place you MUST visit before you die.

As for the food, I have always I have loved the rich flavors of Moroccan cooking. Fragrant cumin, rich saffron, warming cinnamon, and so many more treasures fill the Moroccan spice souks. Yet, after 13 days of Moroccan cuisine I was sick of tagines, the traditional Moroccan stew similar to the Western method of braising. After having 3 course Moroccan feasts, nearly every day for BOTH lunch and dinner, Faye and I resolutely agreed no more Moroccan food for a while.

However, my first brunch back in NYC brought me to newly-opened Claudette with Naisha. Although I had anticipated mainly French fare, ironically we found Moroccan-inspired dishes on the menu. I suppose I shouldn’t have been too shocked since there is strong influence from the Mahgreb these days in France, so much so that couscous is commonplace in Paris. Nevertheless, the coincidence made me smile.

Claudette is located in Greenwich village, at the heart of it all on 5th Ave a few blocks from Washington Square Park. It’s that part of NYC that everyone would love to live in and the perfect place to brunch on a lazy Sunday. The interior is bright and airy, furnished tastefully, filled with all the laid-back charm that I seek in a restaurant. I had thought that we would have to wait on an endless line for this newly-opened hotspot but thankfully they accept reservations via OpenTable, because who really likes waiting an hour+ for brunch (I’m looking at you Good Enough to Eat).

For food, Naisha ended up getting the Harissa Baked Eggs (baked eggs, chickpea ragoût, tomato & flatbread). Harissa, being one of Morocco’s best known novelties, elevated this standard brunch dish by adding some spice. Definitely the healthier option, as I had Claudette’s Honey Pot (baked phyllo, almonds, rose water, golden raisins & spiced honey). All the sweeter flavors of Morocco baked into one dish. Both mains evoked flavors of Morocco with a nuanced, oh-so-New-York-City twist.

OK so clearly I have not sworn off Moroccan food because the image above clearly shows some traditional French options on the menu.  What can I say? I always like adventurous options. Sorry Croque Monsieur but I indulged on you during my Paris days, I’m good for now. Though these days, I am all about incorporating Moroccan flavors into mainstay dishes. The only souvenirs that I bought for myself were edible: Argan oil, rose water, Harissa, Mint Tea, and Ras el Hanout  – frankly all are wonderful to experiment with in the kitchen, wowing guests, or taste-tester cougars, with their aroma and depth of flavor.

Claudette is definitely a place that I’ll go back to as the menu is seasonal and I’m intrigued to see what the ambiance is like during dinner. For a discerning critic who dislikes trying a restaurant twice, I’ll say that’s a compliment.

Claudette – 24 Fifth Avenue – 212 868 2424

See more reviews at NYC Restaurants.

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Old World Style: Brunch at Palma

Brunch. I’ve stated that it’s a New York obsession. Frankly, I’m catching onto the craze, not because I’m dazzled by the food options but long and lazy catch-ups on Saturdays and Sundays now trump raging until 4 AM (Growing up problems).

Alas when my friend posted a Harper’s-Bazaar-endorsed brunch list on my timeline (For the chicest restaurant garden brunch spots), I felt compelled to accept the challenge and check a few out ASAP. I was in the mood for the West Village, which brought me down to Palma for laid-back Italian fare.

Tucked away on charming Cornelia Street, the outside and even front dining area are rather unassuming. However step through to the back, canopied patio, and you arrive upon a brunch setting with distinctively old world charm. Rustic, well executed table settings, rose-lined walls, and authentically European accents create an undeniable appeal for any brunching betch.

Serving an Italian menu, the food is interesting but not over the top. I wouldn’t write home about my Shrimp Frittata but then again I’m still on this Paleo binge so what do I write home about these days? Cam’s Pancetta Eggs Benedict was an eyebrow raiser being a whimsical play on a classic. The portions are big and overall the pricing is reasonable.   (Real life: $8 cocktails are reasonable in NYC)

So you might ask, with a lackluster culinary review, why go? Well brunch should be all about the gab session with friends. The tell-all about the going-ons in our lives. During the throes of summertime, brunch culture seemingly becomes accentuated as it spills outdoors, with large open windows and pop-up sidewalk tables. Palma takes advantage of this New York summer blaze of glory. It does a great job of elevating brunch by serving up a wonderful ambiance, making you think for a second that you’ve left NYC behind. Perhaps Tuscany, perhaps Le Cote d’Azur? After all, often can’t memorable ambiance elevate food in retrospect?

http://www.palmanyc.com/ – 28 Cornelia Street – 212.691.2223

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Sweet AND Savory Please: Brunch at Telepan

Lately I’ve been less eager to leave the neighborhood, preferring rather to explore the best of the Upper West Side. I think it’s a combination of wanting to avoid the oppressively hot subway, the fact that a number of my friends happen to live in the vicinity, and also that sometimes I don’t feel like schlepping to brunch downtown after long workweeks.

Today I had a rather phenomenal brunch at Telepan, right in the heart of my favorite part of the UWS. Known for high-end fare, the brunch is a best-kept secret. 2 courses for $32 – not bad for the quality of food served here, in my opinion. If you’re looking for a drunk brunch, go somewhere else. Telepan is not recommended for frat stars and lushes. But if you’re in the mood for a classy catch-up session, go to Telepan. The atmosphere is quiet and refined and located right off Columbus Ave among the beautiful townhouses of the UWS.

For the food, I won’t say that I was blown away as much as somewhere like The Breslin, but overall Telepan offers great service and good food. The best thing about a prix fixe brunch is that you don’t have to answer that age-old brunch question: Sweet or Savory? At Telepan, you can have both!

I did just that. First I had the Apple Sausage with poached egg, duck prosciutto and watercress. Just enough for my salty fix. Can you really go wrong with duck prosciutto? My second course was the Fallen pancake soufflé with brown sugar bacon and blueberry sauce. I thought the “fallen pancake soufflés” were a bit dense for me, but I applaud the creativity. Brunch food often bores me and I always appreciate the innovation. Fresh pastries and bread for the table added to the atmosphere, making brunch feel more special than just a hangover recovery session.

After being stuffed, thoroughly breaking all the rules of my Paleo diet on a deserved cheat day, I meandered home, strolling through the Upper West Side. I think there really is something to be said about staying local in your neighborhood in NYC every so often. In a city bounding with so many options, it’s always somewhat exciting to discover somewhere new that you pass every day. Just another reason to love this city.

212.590.4300    Ÿ http://telepan-ny.com/

See more reviews at NYC Restaurants.

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Brunching with the Brooklynites: Reynard

So Williamsburg…

I’ve betched about it by night, but during the day, at the onset of Spring, I can’t help but somewhat love Williamsburg. The status quo is hipster chic. Even though I think that’s somewhat of an oxymoron, it does have its charm for a firmly-established Manhattanite.

When my friend Colton was in town last week, I decided to try brunch at Reynard at the Wythe Hotel. As stated, I look for innovation, taste, ambiance, and plating (as any NYC, paying diner should as its so easy to settle for subpar while still paying too much). I must say Reynard stuck the landing on all accounts.

The Rundown

First off the trendy ambiance of the Wythe hotel is perfectly Brooklyn. Reynard has an airy feel, propounded by large windows, and oozes with character from the brick walls of the restaurant. Remind me to come back to the Wythe and try the bar upstairs that has a spectacular view of Manhattan.

We had an affordable pitcher of standard French white wine to share for $27. They also have a short baked goods selection and I tried a savory croissant which was rather authentic to a Parisian boulangerie. The waitress was impossibly BK as well — charming, understated and laid-back. Her leisurely pace made us wait a while for food, and I must say Ivanka was about to fling a gypsy baby in hunger.

But the food was well worth it. Ivanka had the an open face Pastrami sandwich and Colton a modern take on Italian Sausage & Beans. As you can see plating got top marks.

As for me, I’m all about trying something new so I tried the Polenta Cakes with Harissa Mayonnaise and Radicchio. Savory and interesting, it was another inspired brunch. The flavors were clean and I was not left feeling that I had too much food; simply and perfectly satiated. My perpetual goal – especially in a city where brunch means eating until you pass out in food/drunch comma.

What’s the best thing about Reynard? The menu changes daily on the site, so there’s always new innovation to try at the Wythe (Also why I couldn’t recall the exact names of each dish we ordered). Not to mention you’re not in Manhattan so brunch was dare I say it a bargain?

Reynard is definitely worth a visit if you’re in the neighborhood. Simply email the Wythe to make a reservation.

http://reynardnyc.com/

See more reviews at NYC Restaurants.

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Brunching at The Breslin

Brunching is a facet of NYC’s subculture.

Peruse the gamut of NYC restaurants and you’ll find an array of brunch menus. It is a meal to recount stories with friends, often with animated conversation lasting long after the plates have been cleared. Whether you want to get drunk during brunch or recover from a weekend hangover, it’s a catchall for Manhattanites on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon.

For me, it is the act of brunching itself that draws me out, often NOT the food. In my opinion, why brunch when I can, in most instances, do it better? Yes it is often comfort food, but breakfast food is the easiest to perfect so do I really want to spend 20 dollars for a mediocre omlette?

The Rundown:

That being said, when brunch stops me in my tracks, I can’t stop gushing about it. One such experience was at The Breslin, an established, Michelin-star rated gastropub at the Ace Hotel. Now I love the Ace Hotel, located in NoMad, and I could give a separate review of the great coffee at Stumptown or the posh lobby bar, an ideal place to go for a first date (Both Ivanka and I have been courted here).  It has a very London-chic ambiance, with high ceilings and beautiful furnishings, yet its modern feel lends to serve the hipster clientele it caters to. With dark wood paneling and spacious yet private tables, The Breslin provides an equally hip dining experience, propounded by an open kitchen design and its two floor dining space topped-off with knick-knacks lining the walls. The Breslin perfects the art of fine dining bypassing any notion of pretention.

So what we had to eat: I went here for a post-birthday brunch with a large party which lent me the opportunity to try a variety of options. I started by sharing the Fried Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich with Bourbon and Vanilla. I don’t need to say too much else other than it was as good as it sounds. Gooey peanut butter in a lightly fried batter epitomizes indulgence.  It’s clearly not doing anything for my figure but still well worth it for this innovative classic. I then had the Baked Eggs with Spiced Tomato and Chorizo which was served with crostini inside of a ceramic bowl. As I am the betch that tries to get a semi-healthy option, I still felt as though I was getting something out-of-the-box while not settling for a boring omelet. The playful presentation and spicy kick from the chorizo made it one of the best egg dishes I’ve had in a while. I also tried the Oven Baked 3 Cheese Sandwich with Marmalade and Mustard and I can tell you it was a cross between a Croque Monsieur and the best grilled cheese I’ve ever had. Truly the star though was the Chargrilled Lamb Burger with Feta, Cumin Mayo, and Thrice Cooked Chips, a staple at the Breslin.  Having a slightly gamey taste, it was cooked to perfection; a burger really worth writing home to mom about.

Further validation that Breslin is GREAT, is the fact that there are so many things I want to try that I didn’t get to eat. My parents can tell you that I do not revisit restaurants in this city with limitless options unless I’m impressed. Though with other options I did try like the Scotch Egg, the Blood Sausage or the Goat Cheese and Leek Tart, I will certainly be returning for more.

I’m telling you take it from this bougie, foodie/chef, If you ‘re bored with mediocre brunches then  GO to The Breslin. Not only does the pricing match most other NYC restaurants for brunch, it surely provides  a unique dining experience and top-notch food. These days it’s hard to truly impress me when I eat out, even more so during brunch. The Breslin had us all feeling as though we enjoyed an innovative yet comforting, well-crafted meal. What more should a meal strive to achieve?

http://thebreslin.com/ – 16 West 29th Street New York, NY – 212-679-1939 – No Reservations

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