Willow Road – A Brunch Addiction

Another Sunday, another brunch.
The great thing about bunch is that you can eat a burrito and beer at 9 am or coffee with eggs at 3 pm.

There are no rules and no limitations.

Which is kinda the theme of Willow Road.

pics 001 This Chelsea restaurant (helmed by Top Chef alum Grayson Schmitz, who was in the kitchen the entire time that we were there) is the quintessential NYC spot. Spacious but bustling, trendy but with a cohesive menu, upscale but fairly priced. The feel is very cool but not pretentious – I would eat there by myself at the bar, on a double date with friends, or for lunch with my mom. It’s a really great, unpretentious vibe.

pics 002
pics 005 Grilled graprefruit with mint sugar

The best grapefruit this side of Florida? Yes, I think it is. the grapefruit is juicy and tart but not at all bitter. The edges are crispy and sweet with the caramelized sugar. The mint sugar alongside is the game changer. It’s pulverized until it is super fine and powdery. The mint is herbaceous and fresh without being too menthol-y. Its really just sweet and refreshing. As it melts into a gossamer green liquid over the hot fruit, you may be tempter to lick the sauce off the plate.

If you aren’t invite me over. I’ll do it.

pics 007 Crispy black kale with pecorino, chile, and garlic

Excellent. Crispy, saturated with olive oil but not at all greasy, flecked with spicy chile, salty cheese, and pungent slivers of garlic. This would be at home in any Italian restaurant, and I could imagine that tossed with pasta, it would be an ideal main course.

pics 008 Jar o’ pickled vegetables

Awww yeah. Garlicky, vinegary, storng and pungent. Cucumbers, carrots, turnips, cauliflower, and sweet cipollini onions. These pickles are crunchy, bright, and fantastic. I love them and could order these with a cocktail at the bar for a great happy hour.

pics 011 Seabass escabeche po boy with cucumber, fried shallots, and lemon garlic aioli

This is very tasty, though not what I thought it would be. I imagined  an acidic ceviche style fish. This was more like traditional tuna fish – creamy with crunchy cucumbers and sharply fried shallots on wonderfully crisp bread. It was good, but not outstanding – if I loved tuna salad, I would probably love this more.

pics 012 Mussels a la plancha with chili and green garlic butter

Hands down the best way I have ever eaten mussels. I LOVE the smoky taste of the mussels. Still plump and sweet but with an added savory, almost bitter edge of being grilled, not steamed. The butter is overtly garlicky, somewhat spicy, and perfect in every way. It provides fat and juice for the meaty muscles. Add a spritz of lemon and it’s literally perfect.

pics 014 Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake

Chocolatey. Peanutty. Not too sweet or light – nice and salty/sweet and dense as a brick.

Just like I like it.

Willow Road is a fantastic destination. The service was a little distracted, but extremely sweet and quick to rectify small errors. We arrived 15 minutes before the kitchen closed, and once we were pleasantly asked to order quickly,we were invited to stay for hours, even while the staff started to prep for dinner. The prices are fair, the menu is broad, and the food is wonderful.

Like brunch, this restaurant has many options.

And, like brunch, it’s totally addictive.


  1. Go for dinner – the fried chicken is great!