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A Lazy Sunday

ihop

A very humble meal en-route to plans conflicting with a real brunch. We’ll see you next week! Happy brunching!

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counter inside

This week we invited Boston Globe newspaper writer, Erin Ailworth (not pictured above) to join us at the vegetarian bistro, Counter, as our first Guest Bruncher! Erin writes about consumer energy, clean technology and green business, but since none of our New York restaurants would be topical for her Massachusetts-based job anyway, we just choose a place we’d been eyeing for a while. … wait, I mean, we totally picked this vegetarian place because… plants are green….and stuff.

What We Ordered – Dean’s Beans coffee and Jessica ordered a peach iced tea that tasted like it was made with syrupy peach nectar. Our water glasses were filled from a carafe that had a single slice of grapefruit wedged in the neck for a very light but fantastic flavor. Such a great idea for tap! We also all split the Housemade Bakery Goodies as an appetizer – poppy seed crusted raspberry and blueberry muffin/bread with housemade nutella and sangria marmalade to spread.

  • Country Breakfast –  Vegan scrambled tofu (fiesta style) with home fries, mesclun greens & whole wheat toast. (jessica ordered)
  • Coconut Quinoa – Quinoa made with coconut milk and then drained. Topped with a whole grain crisp (raisins, oatmeal, etc) and grilled pineapple. Served with a side of soy cream & brown sugar. (nicole ordered)
  • Tuscan Eggs (or as nick called them, Tough Guy Eggs) –  An english muffin topped with cooked spinach, poached eggs, mushroom sauce and a dollop of holandaise. Served with home fries, a mesclun salad and housemade ketchup. (nick and erin ordered)
Counter food 1 Counter food 3
Counter food 2 <—    times 2

The Service – Our waiter was like the atmosphere: relaxed and calm. He was attentive and helpful without hovering… which can be hard when we’re occupying the only filled table for 15-20 minutes.

The Food! – There were varying conclusions regarding the muffin/bread appetizer (erin thought the marmalade salty, nicole found it buttery; nicole found the breads tasteless but jessica thought they were a good compliment to the strong flavors of the spreads) but there were yums all around when it came to the main dishes. 3 of the 4 of us were not fans of the coffee, but it wasn’t total revulsion, we just preferred other brands (nick was the lone stand out, he loved it).

The Price – a little pricey. $8-$13 for brunch options, not including any liquid refreshment (besides water). And the muffin appetizer business was $9, although they did give us an extra helping of marmalade and nutella, no charge.

The Website – The entire brunch menu is online!

Bonus – Soothing music (a modern O Brother Where Art Thou? soundtrack vibe) and a gallery installation from Mark Golebiowski featuring 3D edible flowers (seriously, ask for the 3D viewer and walk around the restaurant to see all the pictures pop).

Rating – Overall  Rating:   4.35

The Breakdown: 4.5 from Jessica, 4 from Nicole (said her amazing quinoa didn’t make up completely for the tasteless muffins), 4.9 from Nick (the bathroom faucet boiled his hands), and a 4 from Erin (thought the nutella was so good she proclaimed it best eaten alone).

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Counter

105 First Ave

New York, New York 10003

Brunch hours: opens at 11am

http://counternyc.com

Scottadito

What We Ordered – mimosas and then more mimosa refills. A free appetizer of focaccia bread with a dip that tasted like blended bruschetta.

  • Thick french toast topped with a perfectly thin layer of Nutella and fresh banana slices. Topped with cinnamon.  (Nicole ordered)
  • Eggs Florentine with spinach and hollandaise sauce on toasted bread. Served with a side of country potatoes and a tossed mesclun salad. (Nick ordered)
  • Thick french toast topped with fresh blueberries, blackberries and strawberries, a light dusting of powdered sugar and a side of maple syrup. (Jessica ordered)
berry french toast scottadito - eggs florentine

The Service – Our waitress was attentive but reserved. She answered our questions but offered little more conversationally. We think she may have been a little sleepy or just feeling a bit under the weather. Either way, we had no complaints about the service at all.

The Food! – Amazing. The appetizer was brought immediately after we ordered which was a happy surprise since we were starving! And the not-quite-salsa/ not-quite-marinara dipping sauce gave me the impression of almost a mild gazpacho; so refreshing on a hot summer day. The french toast was made with a flavorful batter that could have stood alone with just some powdered sugar, but the light toppings in both cases (fruit or hazelnut chocolate spread) took the meals into the realm of perfection. Nick’s reaction to his Eggs Florentine was, quote, “mmmm” and he had to be seriously coerced into sharing, enough said. Unfortunately, our table did have to have a bit of a problem with ants and we wiped one off every few seconds until our meals arrived, like a “search for the hidden objects” picture (remember those in Highlights magazines in doctor’s offices?). But once our food arrived, the ants (and our concern with them) seemed to completely disappear.

The Price – $14.94 fixed brunch with unlimited mimosas and 16 brunch-tastic options. A total deal!

The Website – The entire brunch menu is online!

Bonus – The Park Slope neighborhood is super cute to walk around if you get into the area before Scottadito opens or walk to explore after brunch. We found a tiny flea market about 3 blocks down that took over a playground for the morning hours and numerous sidewalk garage sales set up along the tree-lined streets.

Rating –  4.5  from all!! (minus just 1/2 point for ants)

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Scottadito Osteria Toscana

788A Union Street

Brooklyn, New York 11215

Brunch hours: opens at 11am

http://www.scottadito.com

photo from yelp.com

photo from yelp.com

What We Ordered – yellow watermelon juice and “french pressed” coffee (not served with the french press although from other tables we saw the tea was).

  • A sourdough pancake topped with banana and lightly sweet caramel sauce. (Jessica & Nicole both ordered)
  • Corned beef with caramelized onions and topped with a poached egg. (Nick ordered)

The Service – subpar. We were seated immediately however, we then waited over 10 minutes just for menus. Two  full tables seated after us received their menus immediately from the same waitress  – later she mentioned something false about a menu shortage. A different waitress brought us our food and was much more attentive.

The Food! – good flavor overall but very small portions. The yellow watermelon juice was fantastic but there was only enough for about 3 sips. There were no extras on any plate (sausage or toast or hash browns? nope.). Don’t order the special (or at least ask for the price of it first), it was about $5 more than most of the other brunch options. We wished the pancake (singular) came with more of the topping business and that the corned beef was open-face sandwich style with some sort of bread underneath for more sustenance.

The Price – pricey! $12-18 per item (brunch menu meals are very small and with no frills, as above) and 2 items would be necessary for a normal appetite. The watermelon juice and coffee was $4 for about a 4 ounce serving (think a double espresso shot). We left still hungry but unwilling to spend more at the restaurant.

The Website – has good directions and a sample menu posted.

Rating –  Overall Rating:  1.66

The Breakdown: 1 from Jessica, 2 from Nicole, 2 from Nick (the husband)

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The Vinegar Hill House

72 Hudson Avenue

Brooklyn, New York 11201

between Front & Water Streets

Brunch hours: 11am – 4pm

http://www.vinegarhillhouse.com

Esperanto

photo from NY Magazine

photo from NY Magazine website

Our original destination was the Sunburnt Cow but, as our first brunch experience, we hadn’t yet found out that brunch is super popular in New York!!, so you better be at the restaurant when they open or get ready to wait (an hour!).  My sister and I were starving so as we tried to figure out where to go instead, we saw Esperanto on the next corner looking adorable and without a line out the door. But that was only until we swept aside the heavy velvet drape in the doorway… this place was also packed. However, the wait was only quoted at 1/2 hour (it ended up being even less) and there was room at the bar for us to start our included coffee, so it was already a winner in our hungry book.

What We Ordered – coffee and a mimosa (a bloody mary, screwdriver or juice are other options)

  • Vegetable omelet With goat cheese, peppers, watercress, home potatoes (Nicole ordered)
  • Tropical French toast With maple syrup and fruits (Jessica ordered)

The Service – Accommodating and speedy for the most part. They had no problem letting us start our brunch at the bar by having coffee while we waited for a table and then once our table was ready, they told us to just leave the coffee and they’d just serve us new cups at our table. So nice (and probably saving their patrons from scalding back burns since one of us is a serious klutz… no, I’m not admitting who). We did have to wait quite a while for our check at the end of the meal, but I’m sure most people would be grateful for not being rushed out of their seats; we just happened to be in a hurry to get on with other plans for the day.

The Food! – good and hot. The home potatoes were surprisingly un-ordinary in their flavor and the non-traditional fruits on the french toast like pineapple and mango were perfectly paired with gorgeous South American decor (we loved the interior blue walls and the hand-painted drink menu on one wall of the bar).

The Price – $9.99 for coffee, a cold drink (listed above) and one of 9  brunch options

The Website – includes a full menu and has a super cute layout! (the link is below)

Bonus – Fun live music while we ate!

Rating – 4.o from all

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Esperanto

145 Avenue C

New York, NY 10009

Brunch hours: 11am – 4pm

http://www.esperantony.com