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The Right Way to Lose a Bet: Brunch at Minetta Tavern

July 21, 2011

When Nadal lost his Wimbeldon championship, I lost too and like Rafa, I was a gracious loser.  I chose my punishment thoughtfully – brunch at Minetta Tavern, the elusive establishment hidden at a corner of Greenwich Village behind heavily draped windows.  Elusive because mere mortals like myself will only be able to secure 5PM or 11PM reservations at night or be fated to wait at the bar among a large crowd of fellow hopefuls.  This was the case until Minetta opened up for brunch a while back.  While the brunch menu is certainly no dinner, their famous Black Label Burger is definitely present and that was good enough for us!

Even though we were just there for an early brunch, the service was impeccable.  From the charming Maitre D’ to the friendly waitress to the prompt busboy who fixed our slightly wobbly corner booth table (which I didn’t even realize was uneven), everything was meticulous and comfortably welcoming.

The dark interior of the tavern made me want something warm to drink despite the scorching sun beating down on the streets outside.  An Americano and a latte to kick off the brunch.


A little shirred egg with fresh morels and chervil to start for me, the runner-up, and stone cut oats with stewed prunes for the winner.  The serving dish was small but this is not a light dish by any means.  I smeared the silky egg yolk on crispy baguette soldiers, catching a bite of morel for a burst of earthy flavor.  While the oats was delicious, lightly sweetened with tones of honey from the prunes, I was too enamored with my shirred eggs to really pay attention.

Shirred Eggs with Fresh Morels and Chervil

Following our “appetizers” was the Black Label Burger – a lovely patty of some of the best cuts of beef  made for Minetta by LaFrieda topped with caramelized onions.  The burger came out a perfect medium rare as burger like this should be enjoyed.  The juices glistened and slowly saturated the bottom bun with flavor and I could hardly wait a second before digging in with a side of pungent dijon mustard.

Minetta Tavern's Black Label Burger

Did I mention there were fries?  The pommes frites sadly went largely unnoticed as we were both too immersed in the burger to even make conversation.  To be honest, the fries were really an afterthought which we would have done without.

After another round of coffee, we were finally ready to leave this strange little world that hid behind heavy velvet curtains and drapes.  I was satisfied.  If this is what a loser meal tastes like, I would be happy to take that side of the bet any day.  That said, however, I do expect more from Nadal in the US Open come September.

A Take Away from Minetta

Minetta Tavern | 113 MacDougal Street, New York, NY 10012 |

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