People like brunch because it’s convenient. Because it includes drinks. And because you can often do it cheaply and still have a tasty meal.
However, if you are willing to go up a wee bit on price, I have a brunch that will blow your mind.
Head to Blue Water Grill in Union Square. This BR Guest restaurant at first feels like any other corporate brunch in the city – upscale, immaculate, devoid of any personality. BUT, when you book a table, make it for the jazz room downstairs. Then, you are led from the light flooded, bustling upstairs to a small, elegant dining room below ground where, from 11:30 on, a jazz trio serenades you with some absolutely sensational live music. The longer you stay, the louder and more swinging the music gets. There is something about live music that is undeniably New York and enhances the multi-sensory experience of eating a good meal.
Pork and shellfish are natural lovers – the shrimp makes the pork taste sweet and clean, while it gets the pork’s natural fattiness and full-bodied flavor. Here, huge snappy shrimp pair with jalapeno-scented breakfast sausage, creamy roasted potatoes, and soft sautéed onions. The shrimp is so sweet, with no wretched iodiney taste. Pairing the shellfish with such earthy, full flavored ingredients really ups the ante of a usual breakfast hash.
Fresher and more expertly made than I could possibly have imagined. The lobster is as soft and sweet as crab with the unmistakably buttery quality that only lobster has. Pairing it with the lean tuna, soft and mild, is inspired – their contrasting textures really complement each other. Tart green apple, creamy avocado, and a tart-sweet glaze complete this roll, made with excellent room temperature sushi rice. This isn’t authentic sushi, but it is incredibly delicious. It is another example of how well this restaurant does brunch.
If you ever see Santa Barbara Smokehouse fish offered, you change your previous plans, cancel all alternate ideas. This is one of the finest smokehouses in the country, is nationally recognized, and produces smoked salmon that is silky, mild, soft, velvety...it’s so good that it almost makes lox sexy. Fish this good needs not be obscured by lots of other stuff- just a hard-boiled egg, some remoulade, and sour pumpernickel bread is necessary. A stiff, vinegar dressed salad of frisee and lightly pickled onions cleans the palate between bites, preparing it for more of that excellent smoked salmon. This dish is simple but exquisite.
This makes bananas foster look like Laffy Taffy. That’s how divine and purely banana-y this ice cream tastes. It tastes clean and almost floral with soft bananas interspersed in the airy ice cream. It is drizzled with bittersweet chocolate sauce and crowned with sticky, sweet marshmallow cream. Possibly the most delicious part of the dessert is its fragile hazelnut tower. Crisp, sugary, and buttery, tasting like a gigantic Florentine cookie. This dessert might have made my dad stab my sister with a fork for the last bite.
My family dines to win.
Luckily, having to share dessert is the only downer to this brunch - each entrée, by the way, comes with a very nice mimosa or a VERY strong bloody Mary. The service is excellent, the food is way above par, and the live music is just delightful. Make no mistake, the price tag is hefty. You pay for some of the freshest seafood around. However, for brunch with the parents or a splurge-y treat…this is worth it. It’s tasty, elegant, and unique…
And all that jazz.