Featured guest post from NYCMenuGirl, a new I Heart Brunch contributor.
It is Sunday. You wake up and you are looking forward to a great day of doing, well, almost nothing. My ideal Sunday involves sleeping until 10 a.m., lingering in bed and taking a long shower, and then setting out for brunch around 11:30 a.m. After brunch, I will inevitably buy a cupcake, take a nap, due to the exhaustion I feel from doing nothing (and skipping caffeine), and then start thinking about dinner and TLC marathons. This is ideal, of course, but when it happens, it feels oh so good.
As NYCMenuGirl, I read menus like a page-turning novel. Each restaurant has its own idea of what combinations of dishes would match the style and cuisine they hope to present to their diners. Some restaurants focus on small dishes, others on well seasoned meat dishes, and some try to be inclusive by ensuring that their youngest diner, their oldest diner, their most sophisticated diner, and their please-just-feed-me-anything-now diner are all satisfied.
Reading what restaurants offer for brunch though is a completely different task. It is harder to separate out the good from the bad because the menus are all variations on the same types of loveable brunch dishes. But, once you actually try these places, it is much easier to compare them because so many of these places offer similar dishes, that you can judge one egg against another.
MmMmm. Eggs. I love eggs. I make a decent omelet and an even better frittata. Some brunch-goers don’t like to get eggs for brunch. Why? Because they feel that they can make eggs on their own, and so they want the restaurant to WOW them with a dish they cannot whip up in their own kitchen. I understand that. But I would ask you not to write off eggs so quickly. There are so many great ways to cook eggs, ways that you may not want to do at home. That is why the egg is so great – so versatile.
Today, I want to tell you about one of my favorite egg dishes found in some of NYC’s finest brunch spots. This dish is not something I can whip up at home. This dish is eggs in a skillet. I don’t even have an individual serving size skillet in my home. So out I go, into the world of Manhattan brunch, to find my eggs in a skillet.
My first experience with eggs in a skillet was Five Points. Located on Great Jones Street, this is a hot spot for brunch. Reservations are definitely recommended (and use OpenTable Reservations). One of the dishes was a healthy egg white frittata with spinach, and potatoes. Summer was starting and I was getting my bathing suit self ready, and decided a nice healthy frittata would be great. And a side of potatoes would be a nice treat. When the dish arrives, a skillet is put in front of me. What is this? Oh it is the frittata, in the skillet. Where are the potatoes though? Maybe they are coming out in a few minutes. I dig into the skillet to find that the potatoes are in the frittata. At first, I was disturbed. Why are the potatoes inside? I like to have a few things to dip my fork into. Well that feeling of being disturbed vanished in seconds. This dish was absolutely delicious. All of the flavors were packed into the skillet, which made the dish so filling. This was the beginning of a love story between me and the skillet.
A few months later, after having a croissant at a cute little place called Spoon in Flatiron, I decided to try brunch. The brunch menu was somewhat limited, and the list of specials was hidden on a 2×4 card on the table. Pancakes? Nah. Trout and grits? Not what I wanted. But the first option on the regular menu was “Baked Eggs in a Skillet.” The dish contains herbed shitake mushroom and russet potato hash, fresh spinach, 2 eggs and a parmesan crust with wholegrain toast, and you can elect to get sausage in your skillet. I decided to get the sausage. The dish came out and it looked relatively small. I got sad. Then I started eating it. WOW. This skillet was packed with flavor. Everything tasted so good, and the components went well together. And oh…my…god look at all of the sausage. Now, this never happens to me people, but I actually could not even finish the dish. The sausage made it so much more filling than expected, that I had to stop myself.
My last experience with baked eggs in a skillet was at Smorgas Chef in the West Village (other locations include the Financial District and Midtown). Not only do they have skillet baked eggs, but it is actually a category on the menu. I settled on “Ham and Jarlsberg” which included Canadian bacon, tomatoes, and spinach, with two pan-fried eggs. This time, the potatoes came on the side. The skillet itself was HUGE. I was about to embark on quite a filling dining experience. Soon I tasted something familiar that was not listed as part of the skillet – toast. The bottom of the skillet was a huge piece of toast! It was like a sandwich in a skillet. Although I wish the ham had been cut up a bit more, since it was difficult to fork through, the skillet was an excellent brunch choice. You can read more about my Smorgas Chef experience on my blog.
If you’re in need of a brunch suggestion, I encourage all of you brunch-goers to reach out to me at NYCMenuGirl@gmail.com. You can also read about other brunch spots on my blog www.nycmenugirl.blogspot.com. And as you make brunch plans with friends, significant others, family, or the people who crashed on your couch the night before, think about what YOU love about brunch. You may know that you always want eggs, and so many places offer that. So figure out what really makes brunch great for you, whether it be the price, the presentation of dish, the atmosphere, or the uniqueness of menu items, and I promise you will have as great of a Sunday morning as me.
Have a delicious day!