Monday, March 7, 2011

Brunching not Lunching

It's official. New Yorkers are obsessed with brunch. No one eats breakfast on the weekend. They exercise then brunch. There aren't even any breakfast menus at most restaurants and certainly no lunch menus on the weekend. The brunch menu starts at 10am and most go all day.

I had never heard of a mimosa until I got here either. (For those who are like me and had no idea what this drink is, it's cheap sparkling wine mixed with super pasteurized orange juice from a carton.) But now it's all I hear on the weekend. "As many mimosas as you want" with your brunch menu.  So short of having a piece of toast at home before 10am, it's better to join the hordes and dine on eggs and hash browns all day with a mimosa or five. Here are 10 of my favorite brunch destinations if you ever come to New York:

This has to be the granddaddy of brunch venues. Started by restaurant legend Keith McNally, you have to come here at least once, even if there are more tourists than locals. Forget the mimosas and splurge on the bloody mary's. Resplendent with celery stalks and loads of tabasco sauce, they are to die for.

Another Keith McNally fave. He just knows how to do brunch! This restaurant is brilliant for any meal becuase you feel like you are sitting in a really homey, rustic trattoria, and Sunday's outside on a spring morning are fabulous.

Cafe Cluny
I just adore the atmosphere here. It's on the corner of  cobblestone West Village street and is cosy with rickety wooden floors, low ceilings and large windows overlooking the street. They're famous for their short rib hash, but I always have the french toast.

Cafe Gitane
If you walked past this cafe you wouldn't look twice. With lino floors, green formica tables and red vinyl bar stools, you would be forgiven for thinking someone's grandmother had opened her never-renovated-since-the-fifties-kitchen to the public. But the French-Moroccan food makes up for the lack of atmosphere. The cool factor is brought by way of the effortlessly hip twenty and thirty something Nolita locals. Make sure you wear designer jeans and read the latest issue of Interview or W magazine.

They have also recently opened another cafe in the far West Village hotel, The Jane. Its superb because you are almost in the Hudson River, so you have light galore streaming in the tall windows and a feeling of faded grandeur, like you are eating in Fes.

Market Table
The owners of this gem own a number of other gems around the West Village. But this restaurant prides itself on using organic and local produce. The space is very open so you don't feel like you're eavesdropping on other people's conversations and they bring your bill in a book. They also have a produce counter at the entrance, so you can buy your organic coffee beans or local olive oil.

Standard Grill
This is one of my perennial favorites for brunch, lunch or dinner. I was there yesterday when it was wet and grey outside. But you can cuddle up in a red leather booth and feast on oysters, waffles or eggs benedict. When it's warm, try and bag a table outside.

Vinegar Hill House
On the other side of the Manhattan Bridge, this is the perfect summer brunch hangout. I wrote about it here and not only is it in the most remote location, they have the yummiest menu and a gorgeous courtyard that is shaded by fruit trees. This is a place you could hang out in for hours with the Sunday Times.

Love this place for a number of reasons. It has a tiny entrance on the end of a very narrow building. Once inside, it is still tiny. It sits under the incredibly noisy Williamsburg overpass but inside it's a low key haven. They have live music - usually a jazz trio - on Sundays and they pass around a red enamel fire bucket for tips. And beacuse its not in Manhattan, brunch is about half the price.

Let me know if you ever have brunch in NY and find your own favorite places.

images: (1) martha stewart, (2) guest of a guest, (3) wine chap, (4-5), morandi, (6-8) cafe cluny, (9) ny mag, (10) trip advisor, (11-13) katrina kelly (14-16) market table, (17) ny daily news, (18) emilies, (19) telegraph, (20) we could grow up together, (21) brownstoner,  (22) free williamsburg

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