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Oct 18, 2012 03:18 PM

ISO Somewhere special for 30th birthday brunch

I'm going to be in town with my two siblings to celebrate a 30th birthday. We all previously lived in NYC so we're really looking forward to meeting up again and EATING! Since we all had to travel, I'm going to dispense with the notion of a fancy shmancy meal and just try for something really nice and memorable. The last big birthday we celebrated together in NYC was a 21st birthday at Colicchio & Son's and I think Gramercy Tavern was another blow-out birthday meal that we had back in the day.

Our birthday meal this time will be a Sunday brunch (due to flights, can't make it dinner) and there will be five of us total. Happy to travel but not too far since we will have bags etc. We will be staying in Downtown Brooklyn and spending most of the weekend in Brooklyn so venturing out to Manhattan sounds good. Any suggestions for some place special, where we can linger and catch up and get to know the new members of the clan would be ideal.

I know I can count on the chowhound community for some good recommendations. All suggestions are welcome!

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  1. Jean Georges
    Boulud Sud
    Ai Fiori
    Minetta Tavern

    5 Replies
    1. re: Lacrosse_Gastronomic

      Babbo does not open for Sunday lunch, only Tuesday through Saturday.

      Cafe Boulud and Per Se are also open for Sunday lunch, but both a bit of a trek from downtown Brooklyn if you have luggage in tow.

      JG, Marea, Lincoln, and Boulud Sud will be a long subway ride as well.

      Minetta Tavern will be fairly busy during brunch (not as insane as dinner but still), but also a pain with luggage. There's barely enough room for people to pass through without suitcases. It's comical when someone with a stroller shows up for brunch, all traffic has to stop to let them pass.

      I would confirm with Ai Fiori that they are open after this poster's experience:

      The Ai Fiori site seems to indicate no weekend lunch:
      7am-10:15am (Mon-Fri)
      7am-10:45am (Sat, Sun)
      11:45am-1:45pm (Mon-Fri
      5:00pm-9:45pm (Sun-Wed)
      5:00pm-10:45pm (Thurs-Sat)

      If you are willing to do brunch, perhaps the newly implemented brunch menu at the NoMad (mind the capital M in the name)?

      1. re: kathryn

        Thank you both. My favorite restaurant in NYC was Jean Georges. Loved going there for lunch but might have been there *too* often so that it doesn't have that special vibe. I think Marea would be a bit too formal for us on this occassion, likewise Cafe Boulud and Per Se. I would have loved to have tried for Babbo but no lunch means it's out.

        I'm having difficulty hitting on a great brunch/lunch place where we can relax, enjoy food and linger with the company; if we were talking about dinner, I would have already Skyped a ton of places to try and get a table. Please share any ideas!

        1. re: casskous

          The NoMad
          Union Square Cafe
          North End Grill

          1. re: kathryn

            Second NoMad and add Public and The Breslin

            1. re: Spiritchaser

              For a party of 5, the wait at the Breslin could potentially be very long. But at least they could check their bags at the Ace?

    2. Which Sunday is it going to be, and how many people will be in your party? That way we could check OpenTable - some of the places already listed may be booked solid already.

      The NoMad, Public, and ABC Kitchen would be my easy top choices for a brunch that's more than just eggs benny and pancakes. I like Public a little more than the other two, overall - their brunch is crazy creative, above and beyond anything else in town, and very reasonably priced. NoMad has some great stuff, but there's also a few duds on the menu - the Croque Madame was a serious disappointment, for one. And for the most part, the brunch menu is just well-executed brunch fare. With the exception of the now-famous chicken sandwich, there isn't as much creativity on the plate as at Public (where you'll find, say, tea-smoked salmon with yuzu hollandaise, black pudding waffles with foie gras butter, and a smashing venison burger among other things...)

      ABC Kitchen is just awesome local/seasonal fare, and more interesting then NoMad, I think. They also have q pretty extensive menu, with more "lunch" fare for those that don't want to go the eggs & pancakes route. They book up FAST for brunch, though - wouldn't surprise me if they're already booked solid.

      The only issue with Public is they don't take rezzies for brunch, but if you're there on the earlier side it usually won't be an issue - the waits are never that long. Depends how big your group is. And if it's a big (6+) group, they might even do rezzies - doesn't hurt to call and ask them.

      Minetta's really good, though reservations might be tough and it is CRAMPED, especially if you have bags - the food is not terribly creative, but very good.

      Another option could be Momofuku Ssam Bar. They're no-rez, but they will make a rez if you order the whole duck or bo ssam (both served family-style) - then you can add on any other dishes you might want once you're there. They're pretty booked up, but I can see on their site they have lunch openings on 11/11 for the duck, and on 10/28 or 11/11 for the bo ssam, if either happens to be the Sunday you're talking about.

      Of course, if you're already in Brooklyn, there are a number of great options near you already, in Park Slope, Cobble Hill, etc. And you'll have a much shorter ride to the airport afterwords... Maybe do Manhattan on Saturday and that way you can relax a bit more on Sunday...

      1 Reply
      1. re: sgordon

        OP says it's going to be a party of 5.

      2. I recommend Park Avenue Autumn. We had a great birthday brunch for a friend there.The decor of the room is so beautiful and their brunch menu is truly a blend of breakfast- y food and luncheon choices too,depending on what you are in the mood for. We were able to arrange a big bowl of crushed ice with splits of champagne -almost like a champagne bouquet. that made it super festive. we really enjoyed it.

        2 Replies
        1. re: pammi

          Wouldn't that be more for, oh say, a 60th Birthday brunch? Point being guests tend to skew towards an older crowd.

          1. re: thegforceny

            Not really. Lots of young people the last time I was there. and oh so pretty!

        2. Thanks to all for the brilliant suggestions. I made a reservation at NoMad and at ABC Kitchen - I'll have to call and see if I can increase the table size at NoMad, if not then go to ABC Kitchen.

          I like Public and Park Avenue Autumn both but don't want to risk no reservation at the former and the latter is a little far. Will report back!

          2 Replies
          1. re: casskous

            I can't think of a better place for a Sunday brunch than Telepan. However, it may be geographically undesirable as it is at 69th & Broadway. If that works, seek no farther.

            1. re: casskous

              Call NoMad ASAP if you didn't book for your actual party size. The layout isn't very flexible in some rooms. For example, we had a table for three that we wanted to increase to four, but it wasn't possible due to the position of the table.