A Tantalizing Three Way…

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A brunch three way.

We wanted to shake up our weekend brunch experiences so we sacrificed our  bodies for the sake of the Devil, sampling three very different brunches over two weekends.

Estela
Estela

Estela, a two year old establishment located in LoLita, between SoHo and the lower east side, is an adorable little restaurant serving delicious, sophisticated cuisine.

Estela, from former Blue Hill at Stone Barns beverage director Thomas Carter and James Beard Award-nominated chef Ignacio Mattos, is beverage-driven as well as serving up fabulous, shareable plates of American food with European influences.

Marley, our affable server, guided us through the varied brunch selections.

Salad Nicoise, Estela
Salad Nicoise, Estela

We started with an unusual Salad Nicoise. It was prepared with smoked whitefish, dressed with an outstanding champagne vinaigrette. Even the olives were standouts ($14).

Estela Omelette
Estela Omelette

Eggs are the mainstay of most brunches so we ordered the pea and gouda omelette…creamy and not eggy tasting, although weight watcher size for sharing. The creme fraiche was a perfect addition ($18).

Ricotta Dumplins with Mushrooms and Pecorino Sardo
Ricotta Dumplings with Mushrooms and Pecorino Sardo

Still in need of more sustenance to fortify us for the long walk home, we ordered the ricotta dumplings with mushrooms and pecorino sardo…a house specialty.

The sauce was worth the journey downtown. I could have wallowed in a bowl of the mushroom broth.

The freshly sliced mushrooms on top were divine and the dumplings pouty, light and exquisite ($22).

Estela is a keeper and worth sampling at dinnertime.

Freedom Tower in Shadow of little park
Freedom Tower in Shadow of little park

Our next exploration involved a bike ride to TriBeCa and brunch under the shadow of the new Freedom Tower.

Andrew Carmellini of The Dutch, Locanda Verde, Lafayette, Joe’s Pub and Bar Primi fame, has opened up an intimate restaurant in the Smyth Hotel called, little park.

Garden Across From little park restaurant
Garden Across From little park restaurant

I am assuming the name is derived from the little park across the way from the restaurant.

Outside Dining, little park
Outside Dining, little park

We chose to dine outside which is separated from the main restaurant. It was a beautiful day and who could resist.

Fresh Herb Omelette, little park
Fresh Herb Omelette, little park

We started with the fresh herb and goat cheese omelette with market veggies which were fabulous.

Smoked Trout Salad, little park
Smoked Trout Salad, little park

We followed this up with the smoked trout salad with greens ($14). The fish was delicious and we topped our omelette with the trout. The greens were bitter and left a lot to be desired.

Beetroot Tartare, little park
Beetroot Tartare, little park

Fear not, our next selection more than compensated for the limp greens. The beetroot tartare was to die for. The horseradish cream, rye crumble and smoked trout roe further enhanced the dish ($15).

Interior, little park
Interior, little park

We were steered to the beetroot by Carmellini’s partner, Luke Ostrom’s, best friend. Ostrom was married last Saturday and many of the guests were staying at the Smyth Hotel. His friend, who lives in Seattle, raved about the beetroot and he was correct…amazing.

To round out the survey, we headed to a NYC institution this past weekend.

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Barney Greengrass does it better than anyone when it comes to a traditional brunch with bagels and smoked fish.

The place itself is a throwback. I am not sure if they have ever redecorated in over 100 years.

Dining Room, Barney Greengrass
Dining Room, Barney Greengrass

I feel a wave of nostalgia wash over me when I eat in the main dining room. My grandmother had the same exact wallpaper in her kitchen nook. Thankfully, she had replaced hers. I had many a smoked fish and bagel with a schmear at Syd’s place and the tradition continues.

Fresh Squeezed OJ, Barney Greengrass
Fresh Squeezed OJ, Barney Greengrass

Firstly, I defy anyone to produce better fresh squeezed orange juice than Barney’s…the portion is jumbo size and the juice the nectar of the God’s…screw the fresh pressed juice craze. Barney’s OJ is the real thing ($5.50 for a large).

Sable Appetizer, Barney Greengrass
Sable Appetizer, Barney Greengrass

We always order the sable appetizer…such a deal ($19.25).

Bagels, Barney Greengrass
Bagels, Barney Greengrass

The platter provides enough thick sliced sable for two accompanied by tomato, onions and a huge portion of cream cheese. We order an extra bagel to complete the meal.

Scrambled Eggs, Barney Greengrass
Scrambled Eggs, Barney Greengrass

David always orders a size of two scrambled, fluffy eggs ($6.50).

The sable at Barney Greengrass is to die for…rich, delicate, flavorful and traditional…heed this, never mess with tradition.

Barney Greengrass Interior
Barney Greengrass Interior

The Sturgeon King has been a New York institution since 1908. Many a television show and movie has been shot there.

Interior, Barney Greengrass
Interior, Barney Greengrass

The store itself is like stepping back in time. They ship everywhere and it is cash only. One time I ate at Barney’s with Courtny and forgot about the cash only policy. We were $2.14 short. They told me not to worry and to bring the money in anytime.

Window of Barney Greengrass
Window of Barney Greengrass

We were leaving for California that day so I sent a check. I called to make sure they received payment and they scolded me for wasting a check…”Not necessary. You could have paid the next time you were in!” Now that’s the way to make a customer feel loved.

Three great meals…definitely all worth a visit…varied and completely different approaches to brunch.

Nothing like partaking in a delicious threesome.

Estela 47 East Houston Street, New York City. Open Sunday-Thursday 5:30pm-midnight. Friday and Saturday 5:30pm-1am. Brunch Saturday and Sunday 11:30am-3pm. Limited menu offered at the bar on weekends 3-5:30pm. Reservations online.

little park 85 West Broadway and Chambers Street, TriBeCa. Breakfast Monday – Friday, 7AM-11AM Lunch Monday – Friday, 11:30AM-3PM. Dinner Nightly, 5:30PM-11PM Brunch Saturday & Sunday 10AM-3PM. Reservations on OpenTable.

Barney Greengrass 541 Amsterdam and 86th Street, New York City. Open Tuesday-Sunday 8:30am-6pm. No reservations.

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