Top 5 Brunch Places with Breakfast Food
Hi. I love brunch. My top personal 5 would be: Clinton Street, Prune, Balthazar. Not sure about two more -- it's so hard to choose!
My favorite dishes:
French Toast -- Pastis (brioche) or Neptune Room/Jane (creme brulee battered), 9th Street Market is also very good and less indulgent. They are very generous with the fruit compote there. The Tasting Room has good french toast, too, but the focus is more on the seasonal fruit than the toast itself. I've also had it at Perilla, and it's quite tasty, and nontraditional, it's a brioche french toast with honey crisp apples. Not the best in the city but well done, and accompanied by a knockout raisin rum maple syrup compote.
Waffles -- Balthazar (sour cream and nuts) or Devin Tavern (oatmeal, and it comes with strawberry butter). Good Enough to Eat also has bacon IN their waffles, but I like the bacon more than the waffles there. I think Balthazar's are the best of the ones I've tried. Clinton St. Baking Co.'s are too sweet for whatever reason (probably the toppings).
Pancakes -- Clinton Street Baking Company is second to none! I love their maple butter and fresh Maine blueberries. Although Prune does a good rendition of a giant, oven-baked dutch pancake. Five Points and Sarabeth's both do a lemon ricotta pancake, if your tastes swing that way. So does Shopsin's but I think it's off the menu and Kenny grumbles if you ask for it. But if you're at Shopsin's anyway, get the slutty cakes. I keep meaning to try the pancakes at Little Owl as the place is adorable and the pancakes look so good! Oh, and Morandi does excellent crepes. I also liked the silver dollar ones at Stanton Social -- light, fluffy, smaller serving since it's a small plates place. Freemans does buckwheat ones that are tasty, but I prefer Clinton St.'s superfluffy ones.
Egg dishes -- Classic NY: eggs scrambled with lox at Barney Greengrass. More traditional? Eggs in a puff pasty at Nice Matin or Goldie Lox at Sarabeth's, or nestled a breakfast sandwich at Clinton Street Baking company, on their famous buttermilk biscuits and melty cheese and crispy bacon and excellent tomato jam. How about the truffled egg toast at 'ino? The skillet eggs at Cookshop are also quite good if you like your eggs sunny side up. I believe they are local NY state eggs. For a new take on eggs benedict, go to Blue Ribbon Bakery for the Blue Benedict with Serrano Ham, Jarlsberg, Tomato. Both Neptune Room and Devin Tavern have very good lobster benedicts. Oh, and I like the oyster omelet at Morandi. Recently had the eggs benedict with proscuitto and biscuits at Eleven Madison Park: out of this world delicious, due to the biscuits.
Home fries -- The ones at Cafe Orlin are very good.
Bread baskets -- Balthazar (love their fruit foccacia and their chocolate bread - Pastis gets the same basket, too), Devin Tavern (excellent muffins, not so much the croissants). Blue Ribbon Bakery's is also quite good (challah!) but you might have to ask for their famous bacon bread. On the UWS, Nice Matin, Ouest (it was so good I wanted them to wrap it so I could take it home). Cafe at Country is pretty good, too, had a fabulous raspberry tart-type item. I still need to try the bread basket at Five Points.
Drinks - Norma's, actually has fantastic, freshly squeezed OJ and free refills, basically the only thing I liked there. Jane has very good lemonade. Little Owl also has good lemonade. And if you go to Five Points, Prune, or Sarabeth's, get their custom juice blends. 'ino has amazing coffee.
Bloody Marys -- I'm not a fan but my boyfriend likes 'em at Great Jones Cafe (spicy) and Devin Tavern (fresh tomato juice and horseradish). Devin Tavern has probably the best in town and I don't even like Bloodys! Oh, Prune has the crazy blood mary menu list for your nontraditional Bloodys -- a lot of people like the Chicago style one with a bunch of different pickled veggies. We haven't been to Essex yet but I hear they are good there too. I also like the non-traditional Bloody Jerry at Tasting Room in Nolita, which is made with mustard and red wine. Yum!
Donuts and the like -- I like the buttermilk beignets at Cookshop, and the churros at Five Points (get them with mexican hot chocolate). Jane has good donuts on the menu was well. And I've heard Prune has great marveilles, still haven't tried them.
Bacon -- Cookshop has this amazing house-made, double-smoked, Berkshire pork bacon that's included with one of the entrees. It's different from their regular bacon. I also like Balthazar (thin-cut and juicy), Good Enough to Eat (thick cut and a little tough but good). Clinton St. Baking Company also has pretty good bacon, as does Morandi (it's boar bacon apparently). The Tasting Room also has very good bacon from Flying Pigs Farm although I wish it were slightly less crisp.
Big country breakfast (biscuits, gravy, eggs, etc.): I've had good ones at The Neptune Room and Devin Tavern, as well as Alias. Clinton St. has this too, haven't tried it yet. Oh, and you can get Freemans' poached eggs with a roasted tomato (breadcrumbs and herbs on top), and cheddar cheese grits with buttered sourdough toast. Really yummy grits. Belcourt apparently has a big English Breakfast on their brunch menu, too, haven't tried it yet. The Smith has a nice version with maple chicken sausage and gravy, poached eggs, and really good cornbread.
Sandwiches/burgers: Prune make a mean deep-fried Monte Cristo sandwich. I also like the lobster grilled cheese at Devin Tavern -- tiny, delicate, delicious. Five Points also has an open-faced Berkshire pork sandwich which is great but their menu changes a lot. Oh, and Blue Ribbon Bakery does a great duck club sandwich with homemade waffle chips. See also aforementioned breakfast sandwich at Clinton Street Baking Co., and have heard good things about breakfast sandwich at Frankie's Sputino 17 down the street. You can also get a mean quesadilla at Stanton Social, with bacon bits and seasonal fruit. Have heard good things about Freemans' grilled cheese, haven't tried it yet. Oh, and Perilla does a good duck burger and Belcourt does a nice lamb burger with goat cheese and spicy tomato sauce.
Other, quirky items: Alias on the Lower East Side has goedda (though they spell it goetta) which everyone needs to try at least once in their life. Oh, and fried chicken and waffles (Back Forty apparently has this as well). At the Cafe at Country, you can get BBQ pulled pork in grits, for a change of pace. At Prune, I like the coddled eggs and salad dish, as well as the sausages and oysters platter. At Blue Ribbon Bakery, a lot of their lunchy/appetizer items are available; we usually spring for the bone marrow. At the Cafe at Country, I like their pulled pork grits -- grits with big chunks of juicy pulled pork, topped with a bit of BBQ sauce, scallions, and a handful of shrimp. If you have brunch at Eleven Madison Park, they have a quite large lunch menu offering with many of Daniel Humm's signature dishes.
Weekday brunch and breakfast spots:
Good for big groups:
I don't like Norma's at all: overpriced, you can get food that is just as creative and way more tasty at other places.
I do mention Sarabeth's a whole bunch in my list, though. :)
I'd rather head to a specific destination for one dish I know that they're good at, rather than roll the dice at a place with a million (mediocre) items on the brunch menu.
The only two brunch spot mentioned by kathryn that are near not far from Midtown East is Norma's, in the Le Parker Meridien, on W. 57th St., b/t 6th & 7th Avs.; and Cafe at Country, on the corner of Madison Av. & 29th St.
Barney Greengrass is on the Upper West Side. All the others are well downtown.
In Midtown East, Cibo, on the corner of 2nd Av. & 41st St., has very good food and serves a nice brunch.
You have such great input on the breakfast scene, but all places are so far from where I will be staying while in the city. Traveling by taxi with two small children, while thrilling to them, can be a strain. Any recommendations for great breakfast closer to mid-town or Rockefeller Center area? Appreciate any input.