Image courtesy of Olmsted. Noah Fecks

GuidesNew York

Chef-Driven Brunch is the New Norm


Some of New York’s most inventive restaurants are putting their mark on brunch. Olmsted is serving up breakfast-style egg rolls and burgers, Chez Ma Tante’s luxurious pancakes are a revelation, and both Nur and Jeju Noodle Bar are pulling out all the stops with family-style feasts. Chefs are taking brunch seriously, so you should, too; read on, take note, and plan ahead.

Whimsy is at the heart of everything Olmsted does, so it’s no surprise that the newly launched brunch program (available Friday-Sunday) is pure delight. Don’t expect eggs Benedict and French toast; here, count on egg rolls filled with steamed egg, bacon, and cheddar cheese (bonus: served in a playfully branded take-out carton), ruby pink house-made gravlax with scallion ricotta and bagel crackers, and apple-strudel sticky rolls with a generous drizzle of milk jam. Best of all, brunch hours mean you can bask in Olmsted’s perfect—and expanded—back garden while the sun is still shining. //Prospect Heights. Book now at Olmsted.

For its first foray into midday dining – and for a fixed price of $42 – Nur is offering diners a parade of its greatest hits: a wide variety of dips, smoked eggplant carpaccio, sabich sandwiches, and, of course, chef Meir Adoni’s Jerusalem bagel, in addition to Turkish coffee. Because who wants to make decisions on weekend mornings? You’re in good hands here. //Flatiron. Book now at Nur.

Chez Ma Tante
Since Chez Ma Tante began its brunch service months ago, the pancakes have earned a following of their own. The perfect flapjacks are served warm—burnt black on the edges— doused in grade-A maple syrup, and finished with a dollop of butter. The breakfast sandwich, which is made with house-made sausage, egg, cheese, and pickled chiles, is no joke, either. There’s also a steamé slathered with mustard and coleslaw (a nod to the Montreal hotdog stand the restaurant is named after), and dinner menu mainstays like the fierce Caesar salad and British-style fries (read: chips) with a tangy aioli. //Greenpoint. Book now at Chez Ma Tante.

Jeju Noodle Bar
Jeju’s family-style brunch means a delicious spread of nine signature dishes, reasonably priced at $45 per person. Highlights include pork bossam (pork belly, white kimchi, and Jeju’s romesco sauce); toro ssam bap (fatty tuna, scrambled egg, tobiko rice, and toasted seaweed — with an option to add uni for $10); and a whole fried chicken with pickled cucumber and Jeju dip. It’s not your standard brunch fare, and that’s something to be excited about. //West Village. Book now at Jeju Noodle Bar.

Image Courtesy of Celestine.

Celestine boasts a stellar brunch—with a view: enjoy your meal while gazing out on the Manhattan skyline. Offerings span from mezze (baba ghannouj, house-made flatbread) to kebabs, salads, sweets (Moroccan doughnuts, French toast casserole), and eggs (shakshuka, poached eggs and toasted challah). //Dumbo. Book now at Celestine.

Studio at Freehand
Gabe Stulman’s gorgeous living room-meets-restaurant is attracting the masses for breakfast every day of the week. If you’re not in the neighborhood, then weekend brunch is a great time to go. Nosh on North African and Middle Eastern-inspired dishes, like avocado toast with black tahini and garlic chips, brik-style eggs with house phyllo, cilantro, and harissa, and chicken club with spicy carrot slaw on pan de mie. Be sure to throw in a few of Zoe Kanan’s brilliant pastry creations, too, like a simit bagel or some honey sesame twists. //Gramercy. Book now at Studio.

Roman’s is triumphantly back in the brunch game. Dishes like frittata of green garlic, black rice, and taleggio, pane cotto with rapini and a poached egg, and lasagna bolognese are taking center stage. With this latest morning-midday offering, the Fort Greene anchor has reinforced its status. (Note: Roman’s will be offering a special menu for Easter Sunday, on 4/1). //Fort Greene. Book now at Roman’s.

There’s a reason brunch at Woodland draws lines: it’s not just a meal—it’s a party. A DJ spinning tunes and $20 bottomless mimosas are part of the overall appeal, along with the restaurant’s particular brand of American-Caribbean fusion. Think dishes like ackee and salt fish spring rolls, egg frittata with andouille sausage and goat cheese, curry chicken & hash, and fried chicken & waffles. //Park Slope. (Brunch is wait-list only.) Book now at Woodland.

Image Courtesy of MeMe’s Diner.

MeMe’s Diner
All eyes are on MeMe’s for its inclusive, forward-thinking service, yes, but also for its nostalgic and imaginative diner cuisine. At brunch, enjoy new classics like the everything bagel babka with scallion cream cheese, Fritos migas, a fried egg-topped meatloaf sandwich on garlic toast, and coconut rum cake with marshmallow frosting (displayed on the counter under a transparent cake dome, of course). //Prospect Heights. Walk-ins only. (718) 636-2900.

Bar Room at The Loyal
Americans are pretty good at brunch, so just imagine the form it takes when it’s chef-driven. At his recently opened American brasserie, the acclaimed John Fraser is doing it big. On the sweet side, there’s olive oil skillet cake and monkey bread. If your tastes are more savory, opt for a lobster frittata or an egg sandwich with chicken sausage, kale, and melted gruyere layered between a brioche bun. For dessert, The Loyal’s playful “Sundae set & candy shop” is offered during the daytime, too. //West Village. Book now at Bar Room at The Loyal.

The Finch
The Finch is a Michelin-starred restaurant resting on a quiet street in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, where — lucky for locals (and everyone, really) — brunch recently came to life. The menu places emphasis on smoked things (think smoked trout on toast with whipped egg, trout toe, and chervil and smoked duck leg with rösti, red cabbage and pickled egg). And dishes like chia seed pudding with coconut yogurt, pumpkin seeds, and blood orange, parmesan scrambled eggs, and buttermilk biscuits with honey butter round out the offerings. //Clinton Hill. Book now at The Finch.

This fresh-faced locale is just-right for enjoying a meal before or after a visit to nearby Fort Greene Park Greenmarket. Italian and Mediterranean flavors shine in sweets like hazelnut torta with poached pear and whipped ricotta and yogurt with granola, berries, chia seeds, and wildflower honey; and in heartier fare such as prosciutto eggs Benedict with burrata, hollandaise, and truffle served on brioche and a farro grain bowl with poached eggs. //Fort Greene(Brunch is wait-list only.) Book now at Evelina.

Image Courtesy of Cervo’s.

This warm and charming sliver of a restaurant, notable for its Spanish and Portuguese wine list and seafood-driven small plates, is — at long last — now serving brunch. Start with a slice of citrus cake, fresh cheese on sesame bread with orange marmalade, or a half dozen oysters with fries and aioli. Move on to sunny eggs with Serrano ham and Manchego cheese, an herb omelette with cured ocean trout and roe, or a fried shrimp sandwich — and enjoy the cool-kid vibe. //Lower East Side. (Brunch is wait-list only.) Book now at Cervo’s.

Casa Pública
Good news: some of the most coveted brunch items — chilaquiles, huevos rancheros, and huevos divorciados — are on the menu at this dressed-up Mexican cantina in North Williamsburg. Other hits include tacos, pozole verde, queso fundido, and a tamal de mole topped with sunny side eggs. Pick your poison and then add a michelada for good measure. //Williamsburg. Book now at Casa Pública.