Brunch has evolved into something of a religion for much of New York City in the past decade, and has expanded to include Saturdays. While most brunches include the option of a Mimosa (Champagne and orange juice) or a glass of sparkling wine, a few are truly memorable for their winning combination of excellent food, engaging atmosphere and envelope-breaking sparkling wine offerings. As a rule, always call for reservations where available, expect lines at the cool places, and note that New York state law does not allow alcohol sales before noon on Sunday, no matter when food is available.
Enter the ivy-covered blue doors of this peaceful Meatpacking District retreat to discover a rustic, friendly atmosphere complete with wooden tables, artsy bicycle posters and a year-round back garden. A unique and affordable, seasonal brunch menu features Frenchified fare like Shakshuka (poached eggs in a Middle Eastern veggie stew) and Omelette Paysanne (with thick-cut bacon, andouille sausage and goat cheese). The Unlimited Champagne Cocktail Brunch ($29 – $45 per person, depending on group size) which includes an entree and free-flowing bubbly. You’ll also find a wide range of fruity riffs on the Mimosa (the Chaperon Rouge includes strawberry puree), as well as Champagnes, from a glass of Louis Roederer ($17) to a bottle of 2002 Dom Perignon Brut ($295).
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A sedate haven on an unassuming street in the West Village, Corner Shop draws a neighborhood crowd with tantalizing dishes like the creme brulée-dipped French toast or truffled poached eggs (each $11). Plenty of veggie friendly options are also available. Pair entrees with a glass of Ca’ Furlan Prosecco ($9), New York’s Sparkling Pointe ($15), a bottle of Veuve Cliquot Yellow Label ($80), or opt for the refreshing Palm on Broadway cocktail featuring Ketel One vodka, Champagne, orange juice and mint ($12). Drop by hidden cocktail bar The Vault at Pfaff’s next door to keep the afternoon buzz going with a Champagne Charles cocktail (Ayala Brut Majeur, June liqueur and house-made cranberry bitters, $16).
This is not your mother’s brunch spot. People at this Belle Epoque-influenced MPD hotspot (formerly Bagatelle) are here to spend money, look beautiful and have a great time doing both. Beef tartare with truffled toast and a quail egg ($24) and the Eggs Beaumarchais ($21), with smoked salmon, poached eggs and paddle fish caviar are beautifully plated and fiendishly addictive. It isn’t long before the lights dim, the chairs are pushed back and diners start dancing to the DJ’s house music. Choose from over 20 vintage, NV and rosé Champagnes by the bottle, or a La Rose Frambose cocktail (Champagne, Chambord, peach liqueur and raspberry puree). Odds are good some table will order a Magnum of Moet Imperial of Dom Perignon Rosé, adorned with roman candle-sized sparklers delivered a “flying” waitress in Supergirl attire ($450 – $9,000). When you finally leave the party, you’re surprised it’s still light out.
Streamlined and elegant, like a fashionable Japanese comfort food restaurant, DohYO (in the stylish/quirky new Yotel New York) is chef/owner Richard Sandoval’s foray into fusing Asian and American small-plate dining. Recessed trenches beneath elevated tables give the impression guests are seated on the floor (the tables lower, James Bond style, to create an open floor plan for cocktail hour and Sunday’s Eat Yo! Brunch Party). Your best bet here is the “Bottomless Brunch.” $35 per person includes unlimited small plates like a wild mushroom omelette, bacon-fried rice with kimchi and crunchy shrimp with a lemon-sake aioli, and “free-flowing” cocktails, including traditional and mango mimosas, and a Lychee bellini (Champagne and lychee puree). Note: “Unlimited” brunches last 2 hours maximum, and everyone at the table must participate.
There’s something to be said for not having to wait on long lines for your brunch table, and newcomer Ngam is able (so far) to seat you quickly. The casual, brick-walled Contemporary Thai comfort spot caters to a diverse neighborhood crowd. For brunch, Chef Hong Thaimee (dubbed “the Fashion Chef”) serves up Egg-in-a-Hole, a British classic spiked here with shallots and tamarind caramel sauce ($10), Grilled Cha Yen French Toast in a thai tea batter ($12), and an Asian-influence chicken and waffles dish ($12). Pair with a Pomegranate Chili Bellini ($8) or seasonal sparklers, like the recent Rosé Champagne cocktail made with rose syrup.
The iconic residence for both Eloise and “Home Alone 2’s” Kevin McCallister offers two excellent brunch options. The Palm Court, located in the center of the ground floor, is sedate and elegant with white tablecloths, fine china and live chamber music. Order from a continental buffet menu ($34) or choose entrees like a classic eggs Benedict ($22) or market vegetable quiche ($22). A white peach Bellini ($23) washes everything down nicely, or saunter over to the adjacent Champagne Bar for a wide range of cocktails and sparklers by the glass or bottle. At the Palm Court, a three-course Prix-Fixe menu costs $55 (but does not include Champagne). Brunch at the Food Hall include options like Steak and Eggs ($34) or Stuffed French Toast with pecan maple syrup and caramelized bananas ($14). On the bubbly side, you can order a glass of Valdo Prosecco ($8), Moet& Chandon Imperial ($20) or a Valdo Mimosa ($12).
The Plaza Food Hall downstairs offers up both dine-in and out brunch options from its wide-ranging menu, as well as sparkling wines by the glass from two wine bars. The Oak Room, which hosted a vibrant party brunch last year, is currently closed.
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Robert Haynes-Peterson is an editor and freelance writer living in New York. He is certified by the American Sommelier Association through its 24-week Vinification and Viticulture program, and the government of Mexico through its Master Mezcalier program (continuing). His work can be found at Examiner.com.