In New York, brunch is not just brunch. It is a way of life here, a Saturday and Sunday tradition, a weekly reunion, a 2-day high.
Planned or unplanned, good company and fantastic food abounds in the city that never sleeps, making each Friday highly anticipated and every Monday morning come to soon. Brunching in the city is an escapade: a lighthearted and carefree episode, a wild and exciting adventure. Down South where I’m from, brunch always meant Sunday brunch, a formal after-church activity with an all-you-can eat buffet, complete with an omelet station (my personal favorite), a Belgian waffle station (a close 2nd) and any breakfasty-lunch food that my heart so desired. We would eat until we were about to pop out of our Sunday best, and this sort of thing was reserved for occasions, like Mother’s Day.
So naturally, when I first got to New York, I thought brunch was a regular kind of meal, an hour-or-so long meal. Quickly I learned that the best brunches are those that turn into an all day affair.
Last year, a hodged-podged group of girls got together in a last minute nature. It was the true first day of spring, a Sunday afternoon that felt like the kind of day where all in the world seemed right. The phenomenal thing about brunch in New York is that it’s a walking city and most brunches include unlimited mimosas or bloody mary’s: what a phenomenal combination!
Our unlimited brunch at Diablo Royale turned into a 2 and 1/2 hour feast of laughter, followed by two bottles of Jamaican rum and pineapple juice on a blanket in Washington Square park, while listening to a guy on the piano as we giggled and soaked up the sunshine. It was a magical kind of day that so bonded us as friends, we now meet monthly and have formed our own “Sex & The City” group of sorts.
I’ve recently come across several new restaurants with exceptional brunches that are definitely worth some recognition. The first is Fatty Cue on Carmine Street in the West Village. I walked in and felt like I was in some kind of modern-metro woodsman’s shack in Vermont. The decor was warm but not heavy, masculine but a bit airy and jovial, with a hand-knitted sweater on its brass horn door knob. This is a place where I would imagine Ernest Hemingway being a regular at, had the eras aligned.
And, oh! The food! Ambiance builds a beautiful place, but I would only return to a restaurant if the food was as beautifully done as the decor. I had an omelet with ricotta and peppers, crisped-to-perfection breakfast potatoes and a delicious salad, along with the best Pimm’s Cup that I have ever tasted, complete with a Brandy-soaked cherry that I wished could have lingered a bit longer on my tongue.
Kingswood, also in the West Village, came on a Sunday and followed Saturday’s Fatty Cue with a totally opposite vibe but an equally memorable experience. The space is filled with natural light, and I loved the contrast of the masculine feel of Fatty Cue and the more feminine feel of Kingswood. I felt a bit as if I was in a greenhouse with all Anthropologie decor, a shabby-chic-French-country gardener’s house where there happened to be tables set for bruch. When in doubt, I go with the eggs benedict– and it did not disappoint at Kingswood, with unique features of roasted zucchini and paprika hollandaise, making it a vegetarian cousin to the original.
One of the best parts of living in New York is its cuisine. Living here, we work hard and play hard, and weekend brunch is one of the most favorite parts of a New Yorker’s weekend. If you’re coming here to visit and need some recommendations, just try the two above– you’ll see what this Sunday brunching is all about.