Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Prune Brunch

It's Saturday, which means many people in New York have had brunch and cocktails somewhere in New York. This calls to mind our brunch experience at Prune (54 East 1st Street, between 1st and 2nd Avenues). It's a place that has packets of Alka-Seltzer at its bar. After you've eaten here, you'll know why. Prune is famous its quirky American menu and Bloody Marys, and its chef/owner Gabrielle Hamilton, described as "rogue" and as one of the most exciting chefs by Anthony Bourdain, and who just happened to beat Bobby Flay on Iron Chef America in her spare time. At Prune, you'll find all the "comfort" dishes Hamilton personally loves, like monkfish liver.

Prune's wait during brunch was horrible, as expected. However, we lucked out and managed to be seated in about 10 minutes. The people immediately after us weren't as lucky and crowds of people kept forming outside the restaurant.

This restaurant is cramped, and you will be knocking elbows with strangers during your entire meal as waiters in their pink shirts try to maneuver around the small space.

We arrived at almost 2 PM, ample time for brunch considering Prune's brunch ends at 3:30 PM (lunch is also served until 3:30 PM on weekdays). We wanted to try everything on the brunch menu, but since our budget only allowed us to order two, we started with Prune's Dutch Style Pancake - One large pancake cooked in the oven with blackberries, served with Canadian bacon, sour cream, and powdered sugar, $14. This pancake just looked perfect. It was almost too pretty to eat, and looked more like dessert than breakfast.

We've never seen a pancake so thick. And considering how thick it was, it was made perfectly fluffy. The sour cream with the powdered sugar was a child-adult's fantasy fulfilled.

We also ordered the decadent Monte Cristo - Triple decker ham, turkey, and swiss cheese sandwich, custard-style battered and deep fried, served with fried eggs and egg currant jelly, $13. This was also good, but for the price, we felt the portion was just a tad bit small, or maybe it was just that good that we wanted more. Maybe they should make it a quad-decker? Other brunch items include: Lower East Side Appetizing (courtesy of Russ & Daughters) for $23, grilled handmade lamb sausages and oysters served with stewed tomatoes and grilled peasant bread for $18, Youth Hostel Breakfast (fish pastes, liver wursts, lanjaegers, and grainy breads for $16, and spicy stewed chickpeas for $14.

We noticed we were the only ones that weren't fully engaging in the full Prune brunch experience, which meant ordering one of Prune's sadistic, downright scary-sounding Bloody Marys. And, the Bloody Marys are served with a Red Stripe as a beer chaser. A bit whoa, even for us. This combined with rich food could spell out heartburn disaster and we had a full day ahead of us and we were not about to be spending our day walking the city in search of toilets. Prune's Bloody Mary menu includes: The Bullshot (Absolute vodka, beef-bouillon, Worcestershire, Tabasco), Mariner (Absolute Citron vodka, clam juice, and olives), Southwest (Tequila with smoked chipotle peppers), Caesar (gin, clam juice, and pickled egg), Chicago Matchbox (homemade lemon vodka, pickled vegetables, caperberries), the Green Lake (with wasabi), and the Danish (marinated with white anchovy).

Prune is hardcore brunch not for the faint of stomach. But if you can handle it, you'll love it.