When some girlfriends invited me to brunch at Yerba Buena’s Lower East Side branch, I was anxious to check it out. First things first: this place is tiny. There is a downstairs room, but the upstairs in miniscule. Not cramped, but it is very cozy, while somehow remaining hip. However, the excellent waitstaff does everything it can to make your stay comfortable, from removing your coats to giving you and extra table for all of your dishes.
If you, like me, avoid sangria because it is a weak, sweet drink that gives you no buzz and a massive hangover, then this is the sangria for you. Really, it’s the anti-sangria. I am sure from the orange aroma that there is some Grand Marnier in there, and from my buzz that there are other liquors, too. There are herbal, cinnamon-y notes throughout the drink, and it is grounded by the earthy red wine.
Portion? Small. Taste? Outstanding. Very citrusy, without too many mix-ins to distract from the buttery richness of the avocado. Tart from limes and hit with the perfect amount of salt to bring out the avocado’s inherent sweetness. Served with a sprinkling of cheese and thick tortilla chips, this was a delicious, albeit pricey, appetizer.
Let’s break this down:
Eggs – cooked perfectly, with thick, runny yolks and creamy, just-gelled whites
Tortilla – thick and crisp, adding crunch and gently absorbing the flavors from the eggs, salsa, and beans.
Queso Fresco – mild, melty, delightfully stringy.
Black beans – NOT the stuff from the can. Cooked al dente, with the perfect amount of chew. Sweet with onions, hearty with cumin and other spices, earthy and incredibly meaty. A worthy counterpart to the richness of the eggs.
Salsa - Unbelievable. So good I actually wiped my finger around the dish to sop up every last bite. At first, it is mild and sweet. Then it is savory with garlic. Finally, there is the unmistakable high, fruity, spicy note of the cascable chiles that leaves the tongue tingling and the lips slightly burning. I could happily eat this as soup every day of my life.
Crema, Jalapeno Relish – excellent soothing and fiery accompaniments, respectively.
For me, it was actually worth two visits. And I can’t give any compliment higher than that.