As New Yorkers, we can often feel like we’ve cornered the market on brunch – although other cities may think the veracity of that statement is up for debate. Adding strength to our argument for brunch superiority is the new (and somewhat old) crop of Bushwick brunch spots serving up a varied mix of meals to get you through a (hungover) weekend morning. So, let’s hop back on the train and explore how our neighborhood interprets the cherished NYC institution known as brunch. First stop: Montrose.
#1 Tradesman: Truffle Deviled Eggs will keep you coming back
Recognizing that the area around the Montrose stop lacks many sit-down brunch spots, the Tradesman started serving brunch a few months back, courtesy of chef Brian Nicholas. Using fresh, locally sourced ingredients, the dishes at this rustic, neighborhood bar are made sustainably, featuring farmer’s market veggies, Berkshire pork sausage, and cage-free Amish eggs. Dishes like the vegetable frittata change weekly, depending on what’s in season while the challah french toast keeps folks coming back again and again. Small touches, like butter sprinkled with sea salt and mini bottles of sriracha, up the “cute” factor and the Bloody Marys come fairly cheap ($5) and with a little flair, thanks to friendly bartenders not opposed to breaking out a few dance moves just to entertain folks eating at the 17-foot-long white oak bar. To gear up for summer, partners Marek and Larissa have been working on renovating the outdoor area, giving you the choice of dining at picnic tables or indoors at window seats, high-tops, or one of the cozy alcove tables enclosed by exposed wooden walls.
Ideal Meal: Bring a friend to split the Truffle Deviled Eggs ($5) before sharing the beer-braised brisket sandwich with picked cabbage ($15) and the vegetarian frittata ($10). Cash only.
#2 Boulevard Cafe: Healthy simplicity in a sunny backyard
If simplicity is what you’re looking for in a meal, the simple sandwiches, coffee drinks, and healthy egg dishes at Boulevard Café will fill that void in your stomach quickly and effectively. While the space is tight and tables are at a premium, resist the need to grab a bite to go. Instead, venture to out back to the sunny backyard where picnic tables offer space away from the creative types typing away on their computers (guilty as charged) inside. With a focus on healthy eats, the chalkboard menu offers typical brunch options like bagels, baked eggs, muffins, and croissants, plus heartier fare like a ciabatta sandwich with roasted vegetables and warm goat cheese and a full espresso menu. While there’s no liquor, you can start the day with beer and wine, while admiring the art on the walls, often from various photographers, painters and sculptors from the Bushwick community.
Ideal Meal: Baked eggs with feta, tomato, and spinach ($7) or the mushroom and cheese quiche ($6.50), plus a cappuccino ($3) to take the edge off. Cash only.
#3 Testo: Awesome deal on Italian brunch deliciousness
This cute little spot located more than a few blocks away from the L stop (6 to be exact) offers one of the best brunch deals around. For $12, you’ll get coffee or tea, a mimosa, bellini or wine spritzer (bring on the Virginia Slims, ladies!), and a brunch entrée, like eggs benedict, brioche french toast with caramelized apples, and for serious hunger pains, spaghetti alla carbonara. Named after a traditional pan used in regional Italian cooking, Testo’s commitment to this theme can be seen in old cooking instruments decorating the interior, like the strainers hanging from the ceiling, the worn pots lining the shelves above the brick-lined bar, and an old scythe that might scare the faint of heart. With only ten tables, the neighborhood secret from the folks at Il Passatore can get packed at night (the pasta is pretty fantastic) but their brunch has yet to be discovered. A shame considering how fresh and well-prepared everything is, even when ordering huevos rancheros at an Italian joint.
Ideal Meal: Get the prix-fixe ($12) and opt for the huevos rancheros, specifically for the fresh pico de gallo, avocado, and salsa verde artfully arranged on your plate. Cash only.
Coming soon: The Graham
The Graham doesn’t offer brunch yet but after debuting their bar snack menu in early April, they’re promising to follow up with morning eats by April 27th. So stay tuned….