Tag Archives: brunch

On a Mission.

As has been well-established by now, I am not one to jump on the sceney-restaurant bandwagon. It’s not that I don’t want to try the latest and the greatest; I do. But a combination of minor social anxiety (does anyone ever feel skinny and well-dressed enough for trendy new restaurants? Please say no), a growing dislike of crowds (not at all caused by an inherent lack of personal space here in New York—why do you ask?), and a low tolerance for two-hour wait times at tiny spots that don’t take reservations for parties of less than five means that I just don’t tend to enjoy evenings out at this city’s hot spots.


One solution to this problem? Brunch.

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Sunday Best.

“Let’s go somewhere cheap for brunch.” Except, as a rule, brunch is never cheap. (I can’t not order the mimosa, you see.)

So we stayed in. Because the weather was perfect for open windows and we’d get a great seat without a wait.

I’m not great at cooking morning food. I once made breakfast for a boyfriend who critiqued the entire endeavor before announcing — after he refused to do the dishes — that he guessed he was just used to his mom’s cooking. I wish I could say that I ended it right there. The breakup was awful, but amazing. I never had to watch 24 again.

This brunch was much better. Eggs cooked with Ohio-made pesto (compliments of my roommate’s mom). This-and-that from the Wayward Seed Farm produce bowl. (Plum and tomato.) Wheat toast smothered with lemon curd made by my friend Jenny. And so much delicious coffee.

To have so much local food within our immediate reach? All without having to put on shoes? Somehow upgrading from a cheap brunch to a free brunch made me feel a little rich. (Bonus: I didn’t have to do the dishes.)

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Ghost Toast.

I just had one single, solitary taste of one of the best things I ate in Atlanta, but the thought of that bite haunts me.

This, friends, is Cap’n Crunch french toast, with peanut-butter sauce AND maple syrup. If you ever find yourself at Radial Café and this is one of the specials, do yourself a favor and order it. Future You will appreciate it.

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Friday Five: Winter Hashes.

When I see caprese salad, asparagus with hollandaise or cucumber salad on a winter menu, I mentally categorize the dining establishment as one of those whose walk-in coolers are filled to the brim with plastic containers of pre-made distributor-sourced foodstuffs. Side dishes speak volumes about how a restaurant sources its food and what makes a chef tick. Coleslaw year round? That guy spends his free time watching Dancing with the Stars. He drives an SUV and only gets emotional during professional sporting events. The chef who dabbles in broccoli rabe, kale and the beloved tuber lives a different sort of life. He (or she) probably dabbled in the arts — french horn? pottery? poetry? — before deciding to make a living hovering over his (or her) knives and cutting board, turning brussels sprouts and smoked meats from single notes to entire symphonies.

While there’s a difference between seasonal and local on a menu, my respect goes out to those who attempt one or both.

I’m not the most astute at observing (or writing about) trends, but I’ve noticed that the potato, in hash form, has received much attention on my favorite menus this winter. Has it always been there, and I’m just starting to notice? I can’t say. But it’s the perfect venue for cool weather veggies and my treasured winter meats, and is often the reason I choose a dish. Like snowflakes, each is unique. Let’s take a look.

1. Short Rib Hash at Buttermilk Channel, Brooklyn

With a 2:1 beef-to-potato ratio in its hash, Buttermilk Channel — one of my favorite stops in Brooklyn — definitely knows how to make a potato seem glamorous. Served alongside lightly dressed greens, the dish is well balanced: heavy meets light, green meets beige and brown. The beef is seasoned with cinnamon and topped with a salted egg. And the soft texture of the potatoes is embellished with crispy bits of beef, scraped from the bottom of the pan, reminiscent of childhood dinners of pot roast. And if one can ever be excited about carrots, this is the time.

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Breathing Room.

After ten minutes sandwiched between all of London and her tourists in Camden Market, I realized that in at least one way, living in the Midwest is a luxury. Space. We spent an afternoon getting caught in the current of foot traffic, wandering the stalls without stopping to look closely at anything designed to attract our attention along the way. To stop would mean to be run over, or to lose a member of our party. We’d gone to Camden to meet up with Sarah, Ben’s childhood friend, and we’d brought Elen, our London hostess along with us. With only a cup of coffee as our nourishment for the day, we were starving. While the food stalls in the market were tempting, we let Sarah talk us into visiting her favorite nearby pizza place. (The crowds helped persuade us, as did the underlying fear that any food near a tourist site was likely to be crap.)

In what was to become a tradition in our London dining experience, our initial goal (in this case, pizza) was just out of reach. (This happened several times during the trip; we’d get to a bistro that a friend recommended and find that the kitchen had closed seconds prior to our arrival, or we’d arrive at our destination restaurant to learn that they could only seat us at their second location, thirty minutes away.) Camden Bar and Kitchen had changed menus and its beloved stone-baked pizzas weren’t available for brunch on Sundays. Our server—who did not approve of this very recent change in operations—tried to talk the kitchen into serving us pizzas, to no avail. Brunch it would be.

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Brunch Bonanza.

The Lower East Side’s Clinton Street Baking Co. isn’t exactly a well-kept secret. Lauded for its baked goods—the buttermilk biscuits are particularly renowned—and notoriously popular brunch, I’d recommended it to visiting friends who had weekday mornings free for leisurely breakfasts; they always reported back in the positive, but then, the lines are shorter Monday to Friday, and I’d always been too put off by the crazy weekend waits to give the place a shot myself.

A few weeks ago, though, some friends and I found ourselves with a Sunday at our disposal. One got there early and put our name on the list; the rest of us met her at the café across the street, settled in with our iced coffees and commenced with the waiting. As a reward for surviving the epic lines, we were served, as promised, “no-fuss-just-plain good food.”

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Old Faithful.

Last weekend I went to an old favorite with one of my oldest friends. Nothing new to report—the food is still amazing, the service gracious, the dining room bustling—but please join me in lusting over the wares of Buttermilk Channel anyway.

We started with the Star of the Sea bloody mary, made with celery-and-peppercorn-spiked vodka, and watched the bartender shuck the garnish just minutes before he dropped it on top. It tasted every bit as fresh and delicious as you would imagine.

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Flying High.

I wrapped up my recent trip to Cleveland with brunch and a ballgame (Indians vs. Reds). Thanks to the magic of grandparents, some friends were able to relieve themselves of the duties of parenthood and join up north for this portion of the trip.

I’d heard a few good things about Flying Fig, and when I realized that they had pork belly on their brunch menu, I knew, in an instant, that we’d be dining there. It was conveniently located across the street from Great Lakes and was within walking distance of our place. (I’m still amazed at how everything fell into place for this trip.)

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Pie for Breakfast.

I have a shameful, shameful confession to make.

Almost exactly one year ago to date, I went on record to proclaim my newfound love of homemade pizza; I even bragged about the acquisition of a peel and a stone, promising more experimentation in my near future. Would you believe that it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I finally got around to my second-ever pizza-making attempt?

Ahem. Of course you would.

April’s been a travel-filled month at Casa IF-NY: Prior to my trip to the Philippines (yes, stories and pictures to come soon, we promise), the Carnivore spent a week in Trinidad, making up for our aborted Carnival excursion with a spring-break getaway. His early morning return to Brooklyn provided the perfect excuse for a welcome-back brunch à deux, and, more to the point for our purposes here, the perfect opportunity to try out a bookmarked recipe for breakfast pizza. Bacon, eggs, caramelized shallots, and crunchy, fresh-green garnishes? What’s not to love?

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