Saturday: The Bigger, The Better, The Boozier (aka the “Birthday Brunch at Essex” Post)

photo-11While other cities around the world have their own weekend-daytime drinking cultures, I think New York owns the boozy brunch.

No one eats that breakfast-lunch hybrid meal later on weekends than New Yorkers — brunch here often extends until 3 p.m., or later. A restaurant recently opened in the East Village entirely pegged to New Yorkers’ adoration of this meal. (It’s aptly called Permanent Brunch.)

So, Saturday. Possibly the one thing that I could love more than a boozy brunch at Essex restaurant — a great Lower East Side scene of a restaurant attached to the Essex Street Market — is a boozy brunch here at 12:45 pm on Saturday for a party upwards of 15.

The planner deserves both some props for their patience and their ultimate faith in the fact that the aforementioned brunch for the aforementioned party of 15+ will actually happen — in a reasonable amount of time. (Parties of 4 regularly wait for 45 minutes to get a table.)

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Well, it did, and I’m happy to report that it generally went off without a hitch. And once we started roping in other wait staff to refill our drinks — the whole premise of Essex Street’s boozy brunch is that brunch includes three mimosas, screwdrivers or bloody marys, but you hope that they stop counting after a while — done.

The first time I came to brunch at Essex Street I was a little too excited about the caliber of the menu, which extends far beyond the egg scrambles and pancake stacks of some of the more ordinary brunch suspects in the area. (You can see the full menu here.)

photo-12Slowly but surely I’ve worked my way through some prospects, and today I went out on a limb — crispy potato pancakes with sauteed apples and honey-cream sauce and spinach-shiitake-black bean hash.

Yeah, they don’t look so pretty. Although it tasted delicious, I found myself wishing for a couple of strips of bacon, and the part where the sweet, buttery apples and the savory, spinach-y, mushroom-y, black bean hash — I don’t like mixing.

… Well, unless it’s one of Essex’s excellent bloody marys. The more mixing, the merrier. My recommendation: Don’t overlook the Mexican Matzo Brei — scrambled eggs with tortilla chips, Monterey Jack cheese, avocado and pico de gallo (and no matzo) — still the standing favorite.

Essex, 120 Essex St., at Rivington Street, 212-533-9616.

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Friday: Ahh… Brooklyn. (aka the “Dick Chicken Popcorn/Exploratory Post”)

photo-6It’s probably never the best idea to embark on a Brooklyn (art) excursion when you (unintentionally) miss the first stop, which turns out to be food. …

In this case, I missed out on supposedly delicious, fifth year anniversary-priced ($5) Margherita Classica pizzas at Fornino’s in Williamsburg — a pizza geek’s pizza place, if I ever saw one. Just missed them by about 10 minutes.

So when I later came across rows of bags of popcorn (with seemingly normal popcorn inside), labeled as “Dick Chicken -flavored Popcorn” at an overly-hyped event at the art space known as the 3rd Ward … well, yeah, I grabbed one. (Granted, the boxes labeled “Dick Chicken Nuggets” were selling for serious double-digits a piece — but they didn’t have any nuggets inside.)

photo-7photo-8…I took one and stashed it in my satchel, unsure if  I was planning on eating the Dick Chicken Popcorn or … archiving it. I had my own (free!) Dick Chicken souvenir … that I was waffling about eating, well, until, I saw two grandmotherly-aged women eating Dick Chicken-flavored Popcorn in the exterior hallway.

“Excuse me, I really hope not, but is there anything “Dick Chicken special” about the popcorn?”

photo-10“Nope, seems fine to me,” one replied.

And then I took the plunge. My estimation, air-popped, could have used a little more salt.

(And yes, I saved the bag as a souvenir. And later fashioned this still life…)

End of message.