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Please help me pick a brunch place where everyone in my family won't kill each other

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We all have crazy families. Mine is probably not crazier than most, but certainly when you get us all together, tensions can run high.

So here's the situation: my grandma is turning 91. She's in good shape, loves breakfast foods, and is the most important person at this meal. But she is 91, so the deal breakers for her are too much noise and too many stairs/tight spaces.

There are a couple people who are easily bothered by bad service, or anything else that might rub them the wrong way. It is arbitrary at times, so I don't expect any of you to know the ideal place for them, but good service and a nice environment is a good thing.

As for the other 8 of us, we have a couple who really love good food and are adventurous, and some who are more middle-of-the-road eaters. Brunch should have eggs, pancakes, french toast, etc. More exciting choices are a bonus but a variety of more traditional options is important.

Norma's was my first choice, but it is booked. Any other thoughts? 11 Madison Park could be good, but might not have enough conventional brunch choices. Nice space where we'll all be comfortable celebrating is important.

Thanks in advance for any help.

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  1. Mesa Grill is good but you'd have to sit downstairs and grandma would have to like south western food. Maybe a round of margaritas would help!

    1. I've always enjoyed NoHo Star. Not high on the glam factor, a la 11 Madison Park, but solid, delicious fare, VERY reasonably priced. You also might consider the Water Club on the East River (google it) if it's important to have a more impressive physical locale.

      1 Reply
      1. re: 280 Ninth

        Second the vote for NoHo Star. Actually, I take that back. Don't go there. Nobody should go but me.

      2. I'm a huge fan of the Neptune Room's brunch menu. They have creme brulee battered French toast (though no pancakes), baked Tuscan eggs, perfect eggs benedict, scrambled eggs, lox with bagels, and all sorts of other old school to new school goodies. Plus, it's a pretty decent value (only a smidgen more than you'll find at the diners in this nabe) and it has had excellent service every time we've been. It's a relatively large space, but they'll have to push together tables, so call ahead to reserve.

        1. I second the Neptune Room but they'll probably have to seat you in the back, and there's a few steps to get back there.

          If you want really spacious and quiet, try the Devin Tavern brunch (only on Sundays). Service is quite good, the food is excellent, and it's never crowded. They have egg scrambles, waffles, omelets, but no pancakes. The only downside is that there's a few steps to get in and out of the restaurant.

          1. If you think a buffet would be okay for your grandmother, then I would suggest the Tribeca Grand Hotel (Church Lounge). They have a buffet brunch on Sunday and I've gone there with my family on several occassions. Our group includes some old folks and young kids, and it's always been great all around for everyone. The space is very comfortable and roomy. We've gone there with groups of 6 and once we went with a group of 12 (on Mother's Day no less), and it has always been a nice experience.

            The buffet is not one of those monstrous ones (except on Mother's Day), but to our group quality is more important than quantity (well, to most of us anyway). Again, everything has always been very nice.

            1. Telepan! It's quiet and comfortable with terrific food and attentive service. There are one or two short steps leading up to the restaurant, but once you're there, it's all on one level.

              1. How about The River Cafe in Brooklyn (right over the bridge, beautiful view of Manhattan). It was a few years ago, but I had a very nice brunch there with my family, about 8 of us, including my then 90 year old grandmother who loved it. The food was great too.

                1. 5 points on great jones. my favorite place and plenty of room. you have to try the baked eggs!! 5 points is really comfy, with twists on classic brunch dishes. great bloody marys. excellent service. everyone i have taken there has loved it. check out their website.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: besmircher

                    5 points is nice, but VERY crowded. You can definitely make a reservation and they honor it, but if you have to wait a few mintues for your table, you will be squeezed in with the whole crowd that is waiting. not very comfortable.

                    1. re: twiggles

                      yep, i was referring to the tables in the dining room, not clustered together at all. and they have that beautiful large table under the skylight in the kitchen, would be SO lovely for brunch with a large group. you are right about the bar area though- it is crowded and high traffic if you have to wait.

                  2. Capsouto Freres has an extensive brunch menu. Lots of eggs and omelets, but only French toast, no pancakes or waffles. And there are more lunch-type dishes, salmon, chicken.

                    1. RiverSide Cafe- stellar chefs that always go on to further greatness, beautiful view for a special occasion, white table service and prices that are worth it. It's always adventurous enough to be appreciated, but classic also so the timid ones will also enjoy.

                      1. Thanks to everyone for your thoughtful suggestions. In the end, we are going to Norma's. It seemed that they were booked, as the voicemail of the restaurant says that they don't take reservations on the phone, only over opentable, and then opentable said that they were booked. However, I called back this morning and spoke to someone, who said that for 9 people, I should make a reservation for 1 on opentable, then call back and they could switch it to 9. A couple extra hoops to jump through, but - in terms of selection/ambience/special occasion-ness for my grandmother, I think this is the way to go.

                        For those who have been recently, any thoughts/suggestions on food? I know that some people haven't loved it. Setting aside price, though, how is the food, what's best to get, etc?

                        Thanks again.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: adam

                          I went a few months ago (not my choosing). the room will probably be good for your group, since i don't remember it being overly cramped. also, there were a few steps up to the restaurant, but they have an elevator if your grandmother can't make it. i had some sort of arepa, which was not bad. everything seemed too involved for my taste though. the french toast my friend ordered was much too sweet and she ended up eating my leftover eggs instead- i had leftovers because they serve waaaay too much food. i guess they are trying to justify the price. a few in my party really enjoyed what they had though. i'm sure it will be a nice outing for you and your family. definitely a decadent place to celebrate, and many people seem to love it.