It was Valentine’s Day, so my sweetheart and I wanted to go someplace a little bit different and a little bit “special” for brunch. Thinking it would be a crowded day for dining out, we checked OpenTable.com to see if there was anywhere outside of our usual pub/diner brunch spots that had an opening.
Opting out of waiting 30 minutes for Craftbar (though we will try it soon), we stumbled upon Resto, a casual Gramercy Park/Murray Hill eatery serving what the restaurant dubs “approachable Belgian food in the style of New York.”
French slang for casual restaurant, Resto sits unassumingly on 29th Street between Park and Lex. The block is quiet on the weekend, though one can imagine it being a favorite for business casual lunches or a popular destination for dinner. However, those lucky enough to live in the neighborhood can attest, brunch at Resto definitely makes it worth the walk or ride for anyone seeking refuge from the habitual prix fixe.
Resto is definitely a foodie’s brunch spot, though the menu isn’t so unsettling as to turn off a conservative palate. Unique takes on classics like Eggs Benedict deliciously combine familiarity with imagination. Swapping out Canadian bacon and English muffin, the eggs are perched atop a lardon liege waffle, a lightly caramelized and delightfully chewy Belgian waffle infused with just a hint of bacon flavor. The sweetness of the waffle offers an enjoyable contrast to the buttery hollandaise and perfectly poached egg.
Other savory highlights include an onion and swiss chard quiche, whose airy filling and flaky crust melt in your mouth, and the Egg Sammy, a gourmet bacon, egg and cheese sandwich outfitted with Gruyere cheese and guanciale hollandaise. Guanciale, a cured Italian bacon similar to pancetta, lends its strong flavor to the hollandaise for a decadent treat for your taste buds, and your arteries.
Although mixed greens accompany each plate, you’ll want to share a side order of pommes frites to round out the meal. Each order comes with traditional frites sauce (mayo) for dipping, but the specialty sauces like sweet chili or yogurt, cumin and roasted garlic rival some of the best sauces at Pommes Frites in the East Village.
If you have a sweet tooth Resto offers French toast and traditional Belgian sugar waffles, however, you’ll probably want to forgo those for the “Dutch baby.” Appropriately named, this skillet-baked pancake has a sweet tenderness that could even make Chuck Norris start cooing.
If you’re pining for some booze, the twelve dollar handcrafted Bloody Mary is sure to provide the roundhouse kick to the face you might be looking for. And the wide selection of Belgian beers on tap, complete with an appropriately shaped and labeled beer stein for each, ensures that the most obsessive beer connoisseurs can feel right at home.
Maybe it was just cupid poking me with one of his arrows, but my experience at Resto definitely reminded me why I Heart Brunch. So if you’re looking for a culinary adventure that won’t completely break the bank or you just want to try something different, Resto is definitely worth a visit.
111 East 29th Street (Between Park and Lex)
New York, NY 10016
Hearts: 4 out of 5
Price: $20-30 pp
Food: Deliciously Creative
Bartender: Well trained