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Brunches Around the Globe

June 17, 2012

I realized as I was going through my photos that I have really been on quite a brunch kick lately.  So many that a few have even gone unposted (such as one from way back in March)!  Feeling the need to share a few of the highlights, I began compiling a post and to my surprise, I started to see a rather international element to the meals so let’s journey the globe through some of New York’s brunch spots.

The first up is a dim-sum inspired brunch from Red Farm.  On the restaurant filled stretch of Hudson in West Village, Red Farm is a far cry from the cart filled gymnasium sized Chinatown spots that even I will admit to be intimidated by.  That said, one similarity you will find is the crowd and wait which has been exacerbated following a rave review from the New York Times.  Punctuality is key here if you want to snag a seat without much of a wait so be sure to dial forward the internal brunch clock to 11am.

Now, this is dim-sum dressed up.  A Kowloon filet mignon tart is one delicate bite of delicious savory beef, crispy filo crust and a swift kick of mustard.

Red Farm showcases quite a few types of dumplings and all are so intricate and playful with little eyes and colorful translucent wrappers.  The “pac man” shrimp dumplings, each filled with a different filling, are particularly amusing, reminiscent of that good old childhood game.

For a more hearty fare, the noodles and rice dishes are best shared, especially after sampling some of the smaller dishes.  The big skillet of rice topped with fried eggs, corn in brown sauce and BBQ Berkshire pork belly please!  This is one delicious mess of main dish.

Next up, just a few blocks down on Hudson is En Japanese Brasserie.  A much more muted affair compared to the Red FarmEn makes for a nice quiet place to enjoy the typically bustling meal.  I only recently came across En Brasserie’s brunch offering at HF’s request for a quiet unique brunch spot.

It’s always nice to start brunch with a pot of freshly pressed coffee, especially adorable enjoyed out of a Japanese tea cup.  While sipping the coffee, a set of O-Banzai to nibble on.  Our favorite was definitely the assorted mushrooms with daikon radish and yuzu but clearly, all were very good choices judging by our empty plates.

Main courses at En Brasserie are modeled after traditional Japanese breakfasts with offerings such a filet of grilled salmon served with fresh silky tofu, refreshing mizuna salad and rice and miso soup.  I particularly enjoyed all the elements on my plate, jumping from one to another at my whim.  Another traditional breakfast is the Okayu which translated into a simple bowl of rice porridge with egg.  What makes this particular one special are the 8 toppings that accompany the porridge.  It’s all up to you whether to add a few select ones or to incorporate all of them into the bowl.

Venturing up the west side and traveling to Spain, we have Socarrat Paella Bar, more well known for its 8 fantastic varieties of paellas.  Again, this was a recent discovery as MD and I walked by one evening.  Given the proximity to my apartment, I knew that this was going to be high on the list and sure enough, we found ourselves a seat by the door this past Saturday.

While Socarrat does offer a number of paellas for brunch, we went with the more traditional brunch dishes beefed up with two tapas.  The pan tomaca is a simple grilled bread with garlic and fresh tomatoes smeared on top and drizzled with spicy olive oil.  And of course, fried artichokes with a spritz of lemon juice is always good for a snack.  The coffee here is thick yet mildly sweet, satisfying both MD and myself.

A plate of Spanish omelette (essentially an eggs and potato pie) with a side of bacon and arugula salad might seem plain but somehow, when eaten all together, makes for one deliciously gratifying dish.

If you are looking for something more adventurous, try the huevos a la flamenca.  Two fried eggs top off a little ramekin of seasonal vegetables (artichoke hearts and fava beans this time of year) and spicy chorizo.  Of course, if you are like MD, you would of course ask for more hot sauce.  Just be careful how much you drizzle on because the house made hot sauce is not to be taken lightly!

Finally to end this brunch around the globe tour, we bring it home with a cute little spot hidden in Flatiron, Tbsp, the offshoot of Spoon, a catering company next door.  While the lines here can get a little out of hand, if you can make it in before noon, there should be a seat waiting for you right away.  The best way to describe Tbsp would be eclectic American.  Loosely translated, a little bit of this and a little bit of that.

Start off brunch here with Stumptown coffee and a basket of baked goods which will be a sample from the case that day.  They are served with a berry compote from Spoon and a pot of sweet cream.

If you are looking for a lighter fare, the Brook trout and grits is delicious, especially with those Gorgonzola grit patties.  For something a little more stick to your ribs, the baked eggs in a skillet will definitely do the trick.  A hot cast iron skilled is filled to the brim with shitake mushroom and potato hash (amazing on its own), fried eggs, spinach and sausage.  Topped off with a crispy crust of parmesan, you will not be hungry for the rest of the day.

Another big meal at Tbsp is the huevos rancheros, a heaping plateful with fresh avocado and tomatillo salsa and creme fraiche.  Their take on this classic Mexican dish also comes with two housemade biscuits which you will use to finish off the jam that came with the bread basket.

So there you have it, a few of my recent brunch adventurous that took me around the globe.  All of these places have reinstated brunch in my eyes after I have pretty much written it off as nothing more than overpriced egg dishes served up with a side of crowds and bad coffee.  Here’s to more weekend brunches!

Red Farm | 529 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014 | http://redfarmnyc.com/

En Japanese Brasserie | 435 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014 | http://enjb.com

Socarrat Paella Bar Chelsea | 259 W. 19th St., New York, NY 10011 | http://socarratpaellabar.com/chelsea

Tbsp | 17 West 20th Street, New York, NY 10011 | http://www.spoonnyc.com

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