After recently editing the Real Cheap Eats Guide along with James Boo of The Eaten Path and a host of others, I figured that I may as well write about Minetta Tavern, a restaurant that, unless we completely compromised ourselves, will never make The Guide. I posted about my first meal there late last year, a meat extravaganza of nearly epic proportions (and I don't just throw the word epic around like some people I know). I have yet to return for dinner. Instead, I've sought out their brunch.
First, an important tip. Always start with the Balthazar cannele instead of the full pastry basket. I know I shouldn't tell a reader to "always" do something, but ALWAYS DO THIS. I am right. Thank me later. While my mother and the maitre'd waxed rhapsodic over the cannele, sharing a silent moment over the the thought of its slightly chewy, caramelized crust, I ate mine in a single bite.
You can order the infamous Black Label Burger for brunch. I won't go into too much detail (just read my first post), but I will say that, while very good, I still prefer The Brindle Room Burger (especially at half the price). Still, this is a damn good burger unlike any other burger in the city.
Latkes with smoked salmon and dill hollandaise is my mother's go-to order. It looks small on the plate, but is large on flavor. Both times we've ordered it, the eggs were perfectly poached and runny, dripping down the crisp latkes. A clever reinvention of the deli classic.
Roasted Prime Rib with Yorkshire Pudding was fabulous. Most people will need a nap afterwards, but it is well worth it, especially to experience the excellent meat Minetta has to offer.
Shirred Eggs with truffles are basically eggs poached in cream. They're now served with morel mushrooms and chervil for a slightly more seasonal effect, but either way this small dish is far heartier than it looks.
Slow baked ham in hay came topped with two sunny-side-up eggs and a biscuit, as well as a minuscule amount of grits. Once broken, the egg yolks melded with the sauce, giving flavor to the tender ham. While a solid dish, I'm not sure I could taste the hay (let alone know what to expect, besides looking for a barnyard flavor).
Double cut bacon and duck hash are as light as the sides get, and most people will be happy with either, though they're hardly necessary with such hearty entrees.
Both times I've gone for the early brunch and run into the "we can't serve alcohol before 12:00 PM" rule. Where are we, Georgia? I made the mistake of ordering the Spicy Bloody Mary well after we'd received our entrees. The Spicy Bloody Mary, made with a jalapeno infused tequila, seemed to lack balance and tasted mostly of heat. I should have ordered the one with oysters instead....
Though it's a splurge, Minetta Tavern's brunch allows one to experience the restaurant in a more relaxed, looser atmosphere. Reservations are easily obtained (especially for someone like myself, who prefers to eat early). Service is great, and the maitre'd couldn't be friendlier. After two great meals, I can say with certainty that Minetta Tavern serves one of my favorite brunches in town.
113 MacDougal St. (btwn Bleeker and West 3rd)
New York, NY 10012