Tag Archives: brunch

Tim Ho Wan

Michelin star winning dim sum joint Tim Ho Wan opened up a second NYC location in Hell’s Kitchen last week, and my wife and I gave it a shot for her sister’s birthday. I found the experience to be pretty standard, to be honest. They’re known for their pork buns, which are very good by all objective measures, but not really my thing. Too sweet. Here’s a photo dump of all the stuff we had. My favorites were the fried milk sticks (dessert) and the rice roll wraps.

TIM HO WAN
610 9th Ave
New York, NY 10036

Muriel’s

Muriel’s has a great jazz brunch, where a three piece band plays some nice tunes as you dig in. My wife and I loved this spot so much on our trip in 2009 that we went twice, and we even had the band play a request for us.

The restaurant is a beautiful converted townhouse near Jackson Square.

I started with a bloody. I love the addition of spicy pickled beans and okra in the bloodies down here.

And I also devoured some of their toasty, buttery table bread with whipped butter.

This place makes a great turtle soup, classically prepared with a drizzle of sherry at the end. Still as delicious as I remember it.

But I was really blown away by this stack of fried green tomatoes, shrimp and remoulade. I have a deep love for fried green tomatoes for some reason.

I ordered a pork chop for my entree. It was decent, but a little bit sweet. I guess since this was brunch, they were using more maple flavors in the preparation than savory flavors.

For dessert, I had a bite of my wife’s bread pudding. I loved it. I’m a big fan of bread pudding. It was soft inside, and caramelized on the outside. Perfect.

That about does it.

MURIEL’S
801 Chartres St
New Orleans, LA 70116

Prune

My wife and I went to Prune for brunch. We started off with some nicely crafted Bloody Mary drinks (which come with a Red Stripe beer back).

Mine was made with gin and garnished with a pickled egg, and my wife got a vodka based one with some southern spices, caper berries and pickled beans. I actually mixed my beer into the bloody when I was about halfway done, to make what was almost like a michelada.

For my entree, I had the famous fried monte cristo sandwich (ham, turkey, and cheese, breaded and deep fried). It was amazing – like a French toast sandwich. It came with two eggs and a berry jelly.

That coil of sausage we ordered as an extra side. Home made lamb sausage to be exact. It was incredible.

While the bill was a bit steep, we were satisfied and the food was delicious.

Incase you’re wondering, those are little licorice schnauzers that come with the bill.

PRUNE
54 E 1st St #1
New York, NY 10003

Osamil

Osamil serves up a really great brunch on weekends. They open nice and early too, at 10:30, so if you’re like me and think that brunch is really just a big breakfast with booze, then 10:30 is right on the money. We went at 12:30 with another food couple that we’re friends with though, so this became our main meal of the day.

The cocktail menu is really fun here. This pink one had watermelon foam and mescal. Very nice.

I also tried a michelada (beer and bloody mix), which was nice.

And we shared this giant punch bowl.

As for the food, we started with some kimchi deviled eggs, which had a nice spice level to them.

Next up was cold uni bibimbap. Essentially this is rice, kimchi, egg, quinoa, onion, nori, mixed greens and other tasty things, mixed up with some uni (wish there was more).

This asian pear salad with candied walnuts was really nice and refreshing too.

The broth for these mussels is incredibly slurpable. I was eating it by the spoonful throughout the meal. And yes there is bacon in there.

And those fries you see there are some of the best in the city. Might be my new favorite, as a matter of fact. They’re dusted with pimento and finished with truffle oil.

Okay so let’s get to the meat. First, spam. I know, I know… but it really is good.

Next, pork belly, lettuce and tomato sandwich. So good!

But here’s the show stopper: grilled prime hanger steak served atop bacon and kimchi fried rice, with a sunny-side up egg. Amazing.

THAT’s what breakfast should be… Not only is it gorgeous but it tasted great too. The steak could have used a bit more salt and pepper, but that’s only if you were eating it by itself. When combined with the rice, you got all the savory elements from the bacon and kimchi working together with the steak, so it’s all good. 9/10.

OSAMIL
5 W 31st St
New York, NY 10001

Blue Seafood & Pizza

One Sunday afternoon my wife and I went on a hunt for oysters in the neighborhood. The first place we went to was closed for renovations (they usually have dollar oysters), but we always wanted to try this place ever since we saw it first open.

They had oysters, so we got our fix. Three east coast and three west coast, times two, so we could each try one of each variety.

They were all great and really fresh. The cost goes down as you order more, so this plate of a dozen came out to $3 each, or $36. A bit high considering we were starting off with the idea of paying $1 per oyster, but we were happy with the quality. A few of the varietals normally cost upwards of $4 a piece. We both liked the Kumamoto style the best.

Next up was their seafood pizza.

This elongated beauty of a pie was a bit pricey at $20, but also very tasty. I don’t mind paying up a bit if the quality is good. The only critique here is that the pie could have used some shaved parmesan cheese to finish at the end, and perhaps a sprinkling of some crispy prosciutto.

BLUE SEAFOOD & PIZZA
856 9th Ave
New York, NY 10019

Cafe Le Perche

Breakfast at this bakery-slash-restaurant joint was pretty fantastic.

I had an amazing lobster BLT sandwich that must have had a pound of good lobster claw meat on it.

My wife’s “little breakfast” was just $9 and had a ton of food on the plate.

The only downer was the side order of truffle fries. They were more like roasted potato wedges, not too crisp, and I think they were simply hit with some truffle oil to give it an aroma.

CAFE LE PERCHE
230 Warren St
Hudson, NY 12534

Alice’s Arbor

NOTE: THIS PLACE IS CLOSED

Alice’s Arbor is a true farm-to-table concept in Brooklyn by Dimitri Vlahakis (Motorino, La Gamelle, Esperanto). They use products sourced from 13 local purveyors, and fresh pastries and bread from sister restaurant La Gamelle.

The menu features breakfast all day, like this hanger steak and eggs that I had for brunch:

That’s a great meal for just $15. The steak was a perfect medium rare with a nice crust on the outside. The black bean sauce was unique and delicious. 8/10. Eggs were exactly as ordered, and the paprika-spiced potatoes carried a nice comfortable heat.

They also offer signature sandwiches like the Banh Mi Croissant (braised chicken or pork with daikon, carrot, cucumber and jalapeño). We went with pork:

This reminded me a lot of the Thai dish called larb as posed to a classic banh mi. It was savory, pungent and flavorful like larb, only in sandwich format. The croissant was an interesting choice for the sandwich. It ties back to the French colonial and Vietnamese roots of banh mi, but there’s just something about a classic baguette that holds up really well  to the juiciness of these kinds of sandwiches. The flavors were great, but I ended up using my fork and knife to take this baby down. That said, I’d still eat this again for sure.

There’s also an exceptional selection of dinner entrees from the wood-burning oven, like Sullivan County Farms Trout filet over green beans and roasted fingerling potatoes in a lemon brown butter sauce, topped with almonds and capers.

Other favorites include the unique, customizable Mac & Cheese with spiral pasta, cheddar and goat cheese bechamel topped with toasted breadcrumbs (with optional add-ins of pulled pork, truffle oil or jalapeños); or the popular brunch items like crab hash with poached egg, lemon Hollandaise and greens.

Daily happy hour specials from 4p.m.-7p.m. include $5 for draft beer, $6 draft wine, $2 off well drinks and $1 oysters. Awesome deal!

The interior evokes cabin-esque ski lodge decor, perhaps from the northwest: An upcycled vintage vibe with aged brick walls, repurposed wood paneling and driftwood branch light fixtures. Very cool.

I definitely recommend hitting this joint.

ALICE’S ARBOR
549 Classon Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11216

Indian Brunch with Restaurant Fairy

One of my foodie friends, The Restaurant Fairy, hosted a beautiful and delicious Indian brunch at her home and invited a bunch of us fellow foodies to come by.

They say that, in India, the best food is found either in the streets or in peoples’ homes. I can honestly say that I’ve never had better Indian food than I did at this homemade brunch. No restaurant in the city even comes close.

STARTERS

Puri, Indian street food snacks with chickpea spread filling:

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Sweet potato and squash spread with Indian spices and flat bread:

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Chaat (Indian savory snack food) consisting of chickpeas, avocado, yogurt and spicy sauces with crunchy puffs:

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Chickpea and lentil slider:

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Entrees

Full plates:

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Biryani rice:

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Yogurt sauce for rice:

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Daal (spiced lentils):

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Egg curry:

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Cabbage slaw with curry leaves:

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We also had some Chicken Tikka Masala toward the tail end but I didn’t shoot it. It was the best version of that dish I’ve ever had.

Dessert

Treats from Iran, similar to Turkish Delight:

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Walnut cookies with cream:

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Bustan

Bustan means “garden” or “orchard” in Hebrew, Arabic and ancient Aramaic. The Upper West Side restaurant named as such boasts a pan-Mediterranean menu that features dishes from the shores of Southern Europe, Western Asia and North Africa, which are home to those languages. Bustan stands out in New York City’s sea of Mediterranean restaurants with its multicultural approach to food and drink, where diners are encouraged to explore and ask questions about their diverse menu.

My wife and I came in for Sunday brunch at noon and the place was already almost full. But the restaurant is spacious, so you won’t have to throw elbows just to cut your food. You may want to make a reservation, though, because the people who live in this neighborhood obviously know how good the food is at this joint.

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We started with a pair of bloody marys that had Mediterranean spiced rims.

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We enjoyed these. They had the right amount of heat, and the mix was a nice, thick, tomato blend that they must have made in-house, because it was really fresh.

Since I’m on drinks, I may as well mention that they have a really interesting and unique cocktail menu that further highlights Mediterranean flavors. And the bar is a great place to sit and eat as well. There’s a beautiful wide grey marble topper and plenty of seating. They also have a pretty incredible whisky selection as well.

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We snacked on some homemade focaccia bread before our entrees came out. This was spiced with the same stuff from the bloody mary rims, along with some toasted and minced rosemary. Really delicious! And its served warm, with a bowl of olives.

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We also tried these burekahs, which are spiraled rolls of doughy pastry style bread with feta and minced kalamata olives inside. Super tasty!

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I ordered the green shakshouka for my entree.

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Shakshouka is a baked egg dish from the region, often made with tomatoes. This green version featured creamed spinach, artichoke, fior di latte and white truffle oil. It also comes with homemade pita.

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I was half expecting something heavy and salty, given the cheese and cream elements, but this was light and mild. I really loved it, and the addition of truffle oil really brought a wonderful earthiness to the dish. All you people looking for a healthy protein boost, this is the way to go! There had to be about four or five eggs in this baby. You get a lot of satisfying food for your money with this dish ($18).

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My wife went with the potato pancakes entree. A large white plate is covered with one huge, crispy potato pancake, and then topped with two eggs (cooked any style you’d like) and three rolls of really high quality smoked salmon.

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The best way to enjoy this dish is to eat a little bit of everything with each bite, so that the saltiness from the cured salmon seasons the pancake and egg with a its natural brine.

This dish also comes with labaneh, which is a thick, tart, creamy, yogurt-like cheese that almost mimics the cream cheese that us NYC locals might eat with lox or smoked/cured salmon. It is a perfect pairing for this dish.

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But one other savory item that’s a must try here is the hummus.

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This stuff has won awards. In fact, I might as well mention Bustan’s overall awards for best restaurant in the upper west side (2014) and diner’s choice top 100 neighborhood gems in America (2015). This place is no joke.

Anyway, this hummus is super creamy, and the addition of tahini sesame paste gives it a massive flavor boost. I actually recommend getting this as an app for the table to share before diving into those delicious entrees.

But you absolutely MUST save room for dessert, because this next thing is my favorite ice cream dessert that I’ve ever had.

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It’s two scoops of vanilla gelato on a bed of candied pistachio nuts, dates and crisped rice, which is then topped with shaved halvah!

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It’s called the Turkish sundae, and I get really excited when I see halvah used in anything, since I always loved eating it as a kid.

Clearly I loved that dessert, but I’ll be back in very soon to try the sticky toffee pudding, which consists of dates, walnuts, banana and tiramisu gelato. In fact several items on their dessert menu are really interesting, as are the entrees. Bustan is truly breaking the mold for Mediterranean fare and offering up lots of dishes that celebrate the entire region’s diverse food culture. Get up here ASAP and eat!

Note: I was invited to dine as a guest of this establishment and received a complimentary meal. This was not in exchange for a positive review; all opinions expressed are my own.

BUSTAN
487 Amsterdam Ave
New York, NY 10024

Burke & Wills

I’ve only ever been to two or three Australian joints in my day, so I jumped at the opportunity to check this place out with Jay from The Dishelin Guide. When he asked if I was interested in going with him for a press review, I was psyched. Aussie joints always offer the possibility of trying exotic meats, and, as you can imagine, the prospect of something like that gets my juices flowing.

In the case of Burke & Wills, you can find a kangaroo meat burger on their daily lunch and dinner menus. Since we came in for brunch on the weekend, however, we were in for a different treat involving ‘roo meat: a traditional meat pie.

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Meat pies are pretty much street food and walking around food in Australia, but this version is served like a pot-pie, not hand food. It comes on a bed of English pea puree with mixed baby greens and a tomato jam. As for kangaroo meat, which is slightly gamey and very lean, it’s about as common on menus as venison here in the States.

Okay wait a second… before I get into more of the food I have to talk about the customizable Bloody Mary menu here.

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Our waitress recommended the exact combination that I was thinking of ordering, so I took that as a sign. This ended up being one of the best bloodies I’ve ever had. Kaffir-lime salted rim, Citadel gin, far east mix (sri racha for the spice element) and the deluxe skewer.

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Okay so where was I… Right; kangaroo meat. The brunch menu swaps out kangaroo in the burger for a standard beef burger, however there’s nothing else that’s standard about this particular burger other than the beef.

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It comes topped with lettuce, tomato, bacon, cheese, onion, pineapple, pickled beets and a fried egg. It really is an amazing combination of flavors that I never expected to work well together. The meat is high quality, cooked nicely, and all the various toppings really make it a juicy and satisfying meal.

Aside from tasting good, this burger was really beautiful.

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For the reasonable cost of $16, this stack of breakfast food and beef also comes with triple fried “chips,” which are what other people from across the various ponds call French fries. What we call chips, here, are called “crisps” over there. Hey, I’m not judging… just informing you ignorant bastards out there.

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The fries (yes, I will continue to call them fries because I’m American and that’s what we do) are thick, almost like potato wedges. They’re blanched several times at various temperatures and then fried multiple times. The end result is a super crisp outside and a mashed-potato-esque interior. Really nice. And they come with a deliciously unique harissa-based dipping sauce to boot.

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Another feature of the brunch menu is the ever present and highly trendy “elevated toast” offering. This particular one, however, was not some dainty piece of bread smeared with a little bit of avocado and then topped with a slice of tomato. No. This was a nice thick slice of toasty grilled bread as a base, with a generous amount of avocado as the next layer, to serve as a bed for what was essentially an entire salad of micro greens, tomato, frisee and pickled onions on top. And there was a LOT of awesome feta cheese on there. In fact, that was the bulk of it! I think I might have changed my mind about this toast food trend because of this dish. It was filling and satisfying, yet also light. Perfect for brunch on the weekend, especially with a bloody beside it.

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For dessert, we had doughnuts and coffee.

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These hot and sweet babies come with two dipping sauces; dolce de leche and chocolate. Both are fantastic.

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I definitely recommend coming here for brunch in the back room, which is like a greenhouse:

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If you’re not into brunch, then you should at least come in and try a bloody at the bar up front.

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BURKE & WILLS
226 W 79th St
New York, NY 10024