One of my most favorite things about New York City is Sunday brunch. Sure, you can get brunch anywhere in the country, but no where is it quite the same as in New York. New York City brunches are an institution: people wait hours for a table at hot spots (yes, hours. I have spent several hours of my life waiting for a table at brunch), which thrive with people hoping to cure their hangover with massive amounts of food and more alcohol. I also love that brunch menus in New York City are available until 5 or 6 pm at most places. Not that I would go out for brunch this late, but for night owls who party until 5 am, it only makes sense to stroll in at 5 pm on a Sunday.
Last summer in New York, my friend Elana and I made a weekend ritual of trying several brunch spots. Some of my favorites: Clinton Street Baking Company (the BEST pancakes I have EVER had), Sarabeth’s (an institution in its own right), and Norma’s (brunch for the classier set). We literally waited up to two hours for a table at some of these places. By the time we got a table, we were so hungry that our stomachs felt like they were going to eat themselves, and we quickly felt a warm buzz from drinking our mimosas on such empty tummies. But the painful wait and starvation was always worth it in the end. We stuffed our faces until we were ready to crawl back into bed and sleep through our wonderful food comas.
Now that we are both back in New York, it was about time that we resumed this beloved tradition. This past Sunday, we brunched at the hoppin’ Buttermilk Channel in Brooklyn. The buzz about Buttermilk Channel started last summer and its popularity has only grown since. Dana Cowin, the editor of Food & Wine magazine, just listed Buttermilk Channel as one of her recent food expeditions in the September issue. Needless to say, it was an easy decision when searching on our brunch premiere for the season.
One would hope that the buttermilk pancakes at a restaurant with the word “buttermilk” in its name would be spectacular. The pancakes here were so delicious that you will be surprised to learn that the restaurant actually gets its name not from the beloved breakfast dish, but from the nearby tidal strait separating Governor‘s Island and Brooklyn. Dairy farmers used to cross this strait to sell their milk in Manhattan, hence the Buttermilk Channel, which the restaurant is named after. Body of water or not, Buttermilk Channel—the restaurant—is all about the buttermilk pancakes. These pancakes will leave you swearing off Bisquick for good. So light and fluffy, without being too cakey, Buttermilk’s homemade pancakes are better than any pancake that comes out of a box. And the best part? The short stack is only $5, which includes a mimosa, bellini, or sparkling wine. (Although I must admit, Clinton Street Baking Co. still has the best pancakes I’ve ever tasted).
But Buttermilk Channel doesn’t stop at just buttermilk pancakes. Oh no, buttermilk is a star ingredient in other popular dishes, such as buttermilk fried chicken with cheddar waffles and buttermilk biscuits. Fried chicken doesn’t sound too appetizing to me for brunch, but the buttermilk biscuits were unbelievable. So insanely buttery and flaky, I would have been satisfied with eating just a basket of these.
Who am I kidding…me, only eating biscuits for a meal? Get real. It wouldn’t be brunch without a little protein too…so Elana and I also shared the scrambled eggs with spinach, mushrooms and goat cheese. Like the pancakes, the eggs were perfectly light and fluffy. We both agreed that the goat cheese added a nice tang and elegance, without being too overpowering or heavy. The eggs also came with hash browns, which were more like a thick potato latke. Crispy and moist!
In the end we were extremely satisfied. The food was delicious, the service was friendly, it was a beautiful, warm day outside in New York, and the bill only came to $15!! I’m not sure what I was more thankful for: that the meal was so surprisingly cheap, or the whole concept of New York City brunch itself.