I love brunch but I’m always a bit perplexed when I arrive at a celebrated brunch spot–Prune, for example–and see crowds of people huddled outside, waiting desperately for eggs and pancakes and coffee, foods they can easily and much more cheaply prepare at home. Don’t get me wrong: a place like Prune can dazzle you with its brunch food, but at the end of the day, it’s brunch food and no brunch food–however spectacular–should require a one hour wait.
Which is why I’m delighted to tell you about the brunch I had a few weeks ago with my friend Lauren at Irving Mill, one block east of Union Square. The place is enormous, like a farmy banquet hall, and on Sunday at 12 noon it was almost totally empty, which should’ve been a cause for alarm. Instead, though it was a cause for celebration: Irving Mill serves a pretty killer bunch and the best part is, you don’t have to wait.
Here is a scene from our table, 10 minutes in:
There’s coffee for me and a latte for Lauren and there in the middle of the table some zucchini bread. We were off to a good start and soon we ordered and the prices were pretty standard for brunch, in the $12-range, which is the most I think you should pay for eggs and pancakes and the like.
Let’s get to the good stuff. Lauren ordered an Egg White Soufflé w/Squash Salad & Pesto–look how happy it makes her:
Let’s see that soufflé up close:
That’s quite a looker isn’t it?
As for taste, I was wary of a big souffle of egg white–frankly, it sounded kind of boring. But with the pesto salad on top, it was bright-tasting and light and had a little kick from the garlic.
As for me, I ordered Cream of Wheat Pancakes w/Cranberry & Kumquat Compote:
These were pretty spectacular and they were spectacular because of texture. Somehow, making the pancakes with Cream of Wheat rendered them crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle. The compote was zingy and chunky and a great topper.
When you have something so sweet for breakfast, you need something a little savory to cut it so we ordered Rabbit & Ratatouille sausage:
This too was pretty excellent–they make the sausage themselves–sweet and meaty and a nice final touch to our meal.
What’s left to say? If you want to eat brunch in Manhattan and you don’t want to wait, go to Irving Mill. It’s lots of bang for your buck and requires nothing more than a nice walk through Union Square. Just don’t tell too many people or you’ll see me clustered outside in a few weeks looking sad and angry. And no one should eat brunch sad and angry–that’s just wrong.
P.S. I should also mention that they take reservations for brunch which is pretty rare in this fair city. It’s a good place to take your parents.
116 East 16th Street
New York, NY 10003