Friday, October 30, 2009

A Man Who Brunches - New York

Back in London, we can always rely on the good old English full breakfast. Sausages, bacon, beans, mushrooms, hash browns, toast and lashings of butter all washed down with a mug of builders finest. Over in New York, they turn their noses up at such delights and instead opt for Brunch. Eaten slightly later (normally between 11 and 1), we are talking pancakes, thin strips of streaky bacon, eggs any and every way, all washed down with as much filter coffee as is humanly possible. No nonsense.

I love the English attitude to breakfast, but the New Yorker's have managed to reinvent it all on their own. In the few days that I have here, I managed to fit in three different outings for brunch:


Wichcraft is essentially a chain of upmarket sandwich shops scattered across New York. Created by the same man who runs the chain of Craft restaurants, a fine pedigree in itself, the order of the day is sandwiches with a bit more thought and execution than your everyday Pret. They serve mainly to a lunch crowd but have a range of sandwiches to cater for the brunch crowd. I went for what was called "Fried Eggs" which contained bacon and Gorgonzola alongside the aforementioned eggs. I even picked up a slight warming chilli kick, a nice if unexpected touch. All washed down with a decent coffee, a great little place to drop by if you're on the go and in need of nourishment.

'Wichcraft @ Flatiron (Website) - 11 East 20th street @ Broadway, New York

'wichcraft on Urbanspoon

Clinton Street Baking Company:

When asking for New York dining recommendations, one place that is never far from most peoples thoughts is the Clinton Street Baking company. Located on the Lower East side, it's not exactly near all the other local tourist haunts but is certainly worth the detour. Famous for their pancakes, unless you arrive the minute they open, you are in for a wait. I was there around half ten and was told a 45 minute wait would ensue. 10 minutes later, wave upon wave bustled their way through the front door, only to be told they would have to brave the elements once again as the wait had now increased to an hour and a half.

Where all the action happens

Inside, it's tiny. People are seated wherever there is space, be it near to the coffee machine, at the window or in the actual "dining room". Even so, the atmosphere is jovial and the service efficient and with a smile. I think the promise of a good feed helps, but I happily passed the time with a coffee and stared into the kitchen, mesmerised as the brigade of chefs produced dish after yummy looking dish.

French Brioche Toast

Eventually, it was my turn and I took my seat at the "bar" and ordered. I went for the French Toast Brioche with Pecan and Caramelised bananas, and as if that wasn't enough, I ordered a side of smoked bacon. I know I should have got the pancakes but enough has been said about them and I wanted to try something different. And the french toast was fantastic. Delicate brioche dipped in egg and fried, the toast still moist and soft but certainly not soggy. The caramelised bananas added a nice sweetness and the pecans crunch. Bacon was crisp, smoky and not greasy, a winning combination.


Clinton Street Bakery certainly had a lot to live up to, and even with a 45 minute wait, I actually enjoyed every minute of it. If anything, the wait just built up my hunger and I demolished my food the minute it arrived. Worth the trek and don't be surprised if you're there a while.

Clinton Street Baking Company and Restaurant (Website) - 4 Clinton Street (btw. East Houston & Stanton), New York

Clinton St. Baking Company on Urbanspoon


Conveniently located on the ground floor of where I was staying, Spoon is a relative new comer to the Brunch stakes. Originally opened as a catering outfit, it serves coffee and sandwiches during the week and opens its doors to the Brunch crowd at the weekends.

Family friendly, a rarity in New York it seems, it was packed to the gills with well behaved and well dressed young children. I went with my cousin and her one and a bit year old who proceeded to cause a ruckus, throwing veggies heavenwards whenever possible, only to generate coo's of forgiveness from the adults around her just by pulling adorable faces.

The brunch menu is limited but irresistible. I wanted to eat everything. Pancakes were on there as standard, in both blueberry and chocolate versions, but I wanted something more savoury and went for the baked eggs.

Baked eggs

This was like baked eggs deluxe. Alongside the two baked eggs was sausage meat, spinach, mushrooms, they even managed to pack a hash brown in there. It was topped off with a Parmesan crust and was a very hearty brunch. Lucky that, as it was the only thing I ate before I boarded my flight back to blighty.

A fitting end to a rather OTT feasting trip. Rumour has it that Lucy Liu is a local and often comes to Spoon for brunch. I didn't spot her this time, but the next time I am back in New York, I may well be camped in Spoon on the look out.

Spoon (Website) - 17 West 20th Street
(between 5th & 6th avenues), New York

Spoon on Urbanspoon


Helen @ World Foodie Guide said...

You certainly ate well! Brunch was one of my favourite meals in NYC (1999-2001) and I had a few firm favourites that are probably no longer there...

Food.By Mark. said...

My NYC Brunch mega post is still in drafts. The Balthazar and Clinton Street posts was born from it... I still maintain you should've had the pancakes at Clinton's...

I heart cupcakes said...

I had the best banana pancakes ever at Clinton Street on the first day of our holiday in NY earlier this year - it was a MASSIVE portion and I couldn't eat it all (and I can eat lots!)

ginandcrumpets said...

Clinton Street Bakery is just delish. I went there last year and somehow we managed to queue jump and get a seat within 5 minutes, to the fury of the people around us. The New Yorker we were with shrugged and said: 'Hey, this is New York. You do what you gotta do.' I did the blueberry pancakes. Gorgeous.

Hollow Legs said...

I looove brunch. How have I not been to NYC yet?!

Food.By Mark. said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Spotted Lucy Liu at Spoon with a blond guy last Sunday, July 25...