The Better Brunch

Many years ago, I had my penultimate Manhattan brunch. (The very last one that I remember was at Cookshop, a great Chelsea restaurant, right below The High Line.) For some crazy reason, my sister and I chose to brave the crowded Theater District and agreed on a bustling “French” bistro for our Sunday brunch. It was overhyped, touristy and not even good for a hot chocolate. Not authentically French at all! From that moment on, we both swore off Manhattan brunches and promised to remember that brunch in Brooklyn, overall, is by far the better place for the meal that can make or break a girl’s weekend. But why is brunch specifically just plain better in Brooklyn?

The short answer is Brooklyn brunches are more French—due to a higher level of food quality, more personable service and often a unique, art-loving environment. The long answer is present in my top three discoveries about Brooklyn brunching, complete with brunch restaurant suggestions.

The Greener Good

Most Brooklyn restaurateurs are focused on using local, seasonal and sustainable ingredients with vegetarian options, which has one main benefit: quality, unequivocally fresh fare. And nothing tastes better when it’s organic, freshly plucked from a nearby farm, or grown and/or hand-processed on the restaurant’s premises than eggs, milk, cheese, fruit, bacon, etc.—basically all the components you need to make a fabulous breakfast or brunch.

For a sometimes intoxicating with sweets, sometimes fresh with veggies brunch make ressies for the famous Olmsted in Prospect Heights. Classified as a “vegetable-heavy” restaurant by its chef/owner, Olmsted has a lush green wall in its garden that isn’t just for show but its greens are actually used in dishes and listed on the menu. When I finally am able to go to this restaurant of veggie dreams, my first Olmsted brunch pick will be the very French-sounding Duck Duo. But if I were in the mood for a savory, laced with greens brunch, I would order the Spanakopita Shaksouka.
Olmsted, 718-552-2610, http://www.olmstednyc.com

Sans Tourist-Traps

Although I’m convinced that Brooklyn has the best NYC sights—French restaurants, Botanic Gardens and pizza (except for a couple of tourist-trap pizza spots in Dumbo)—there are so few longstanding gimmicky restaurants that seek to drain your pockets, while giving you little or nothing and getting away with it only because they’re close to a popular site for tourists.

Brooklyn’s lack of overhyped eateries has two prime perks: stability for family-run, neighborhood staples and a good amount of space for the younger generation of spots that serve everything from classic Eggs Benedict to Asian-fusion dishes for brunch.

Popular Crown Heights diner Tom’s, for example, has been serving the same fare since 1936, according to its website, and is still receiving the praise, that some say it deserves. Try the lemon ricotta pancakes and you probably won’t be disappointed. I couldn’t wait to try mine. The line to get in was long but went by in a decent amount of time.

Tom’s, 718-636-9738, https://tomsbrooklyn.com

Party of Four or More
Even with the hefty amount of unique nightlife experiences, most of Brooklyn is really for families. And where it’s meant for revelry till 4 a.m., cool “kids” create their own extended families. (An earlier BkFrench.com post, “Family-Friendly French” lists several eateries that cater to larger groups with children.) Carroll Gardens’ own Buttermilk Channel, one of the most famous of family-friendly Brooklyn restaurants, is crowded with a serpentine line for brunch. Most say though that its kid-friendly offerings, like the walnut sticky bun and the pecan pie french toast are well worth the wait. The kids menu itself is also intriguing. This restaurant’s name says it all, “Get the pancakes.” But rave reviews for Buttermilk’s chicken and waffles abound.

Buttermilk Channel, 718-852-8490, http://www.buttermilkchannelnyc.com

A walk down Smith Street in the Gowanus area, also known for family-friendly French cuisine, will bring you to the freshly opened, hubby-and-wife run French restaurant, Dumonet. Surrounded by the rustic charm of brick walls, mocha banquettes and tin ceilings, you’ll enjoy classic brunch items—Croques, brioche french toast, and poached eggs—as well as the stuff you’d only get at a French resto—cheese soufflé, tart flambée, and a very mouth-watering version French onion soup.
Dumonet, 718-625-0963, https://www.dumonetbrooklyn.com

Pint-Sized Picks 

An exploration of Brooklyn brunches often leads to an exciting encounter with a hipster-loved storefront window eatery or rather with the five-star worthy egg sandwich that it serves and proudly touts as its paramount creation.

Don’t overlook the small cafes or even the storefront window restos that remain in high demand with thick lines down the block, regardless of their short menu of only a few or sometimes two, well-executed items. They disregard the unwritten rule of creating an extensive menu that attempts to please the masses, choose to go with what they know, and are often successful because of it.

For brunch on a quaint scale, indulge yourself in The Little Sweet Cafe in Boerum Hill. With fluffy crepes, a popular dirty chai and an indecisive half Anthropologie and half Paris vibe, I wanted to stay here all afternoon, despite it being a wifi/computer free zone. Definitely meant for francophiles that savor a quiet, minimalist ambience with touches of rich, artsy culture everywhere.

The Little Sweet Cafe, 718-858-8998, https://www.yelp.com/biz/the-little-sweet-cafe

Photo by John Baker on Unsplash

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