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Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Post-Birthday (Recovery) Brunch

my quickly downed champange cocktail
Saturday morning, I woke early and checked on my houseguest (my sister, Kim) who was already awake at 9:30. I asked her if she was up for brunch and in less than ten minutes we were out the door and headed downtown...

We exited the 8th Avenue Local at 23rd Street and contemplated going to East of Eighth (I'd been invited to enjoy a post-birthday brunch, on the house), but they were not yet open. Being a short walk from Cookshop, I recommended going there.

IT was only just past 11 a. m. when we'd entered Cookshop's doors, but they were already at capacity (even including the bar). The maître d' told us that there were two ladies about to vacate their bar seats, from which behind Kim and I attentively hovered. We browsed the brunch cocktails and I decided upon a simple champagne cocktail (prosecco with a bitters-soaked sugar cube) while Kim opted for the more fruity white peach bellini

Just minutes after ordering our drinks, the maître d' came from behind the podium to direct us to a pair of open seats at the opposite end of the bar. Through the crowd, I followed close behind. Perusing the menu, Kim and I narrowed down our choices to three musts--beignets, grapefruit brûlée and hash brown potatoes--and huevos rancheros, to share.

oh-so-decadent grapefruit brûlée!

The grapefruit starter arrived first and it was love at first bite! I'd forgotten how much I enjoy grapefruits, but these were even more delicious--each portion topped with caramelized brown sugar, and set atop creamy crème fraîche! They seemed so decadent (at just $8) and I felt like I was at a mid-summer's wedding. I'd overheard our bartender telling the couple next to us that it was the most under-ordered dish on the menu--minutes later, they were enjoying the same.

ricotta beignets

Next to arrive were the beignets, moistened with ricotta added to the batter (you don't actually taste it). The beignets were everything I wanted them to be: soft, moist, chewy, hot and a little sweet--and topping them with the with the accompanying fruit compote, nicely balanced. The couple next to us ordered them as well.

the best home-fried potatoes you'll ever taste!

Next to arrive were our hash brown potatoes, followed shortly thereafter by huevos rancheros.

a seemingly popular dish

The potatoes were slightly spicy, fully flavorful and peppered with a sprinkling of fresh-tasting onions. As for the huevos rancheros, I wouldn't order the dish again, but it seemed to be quite popular among surrounding diners. On my last visit to Cookshop I enjoyed--quite possibly--the best sundae I'd ever had. I just couldn't eat at Cookshop with having another. This time, they were offering mocha spice sundae, with mocha-cardamom ice cream and an amaretti crumble. Kim and I agreed to share.

are we ready for this?

At first bite, "You can really taste the mocha!" And diving our sundae spoons deeper, the amaretti crumble proved to be a delicious and crunchy treat. As we made our way to the bottom of the sundae glass, we gleefully uncovered several more large clusters of the amaretti crumble. Turning to me: "It's like a little treasure--usually when you get to the bottom of the sundae, there's nothing there..." 

From there, as we leisurely headed north to Penn Station (where Kim was to catch her train homeward), I mentioned, 

"... East of Eighth wouldn't have been that good!"
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