Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Brunch at Feast in NYC

I know I've said my piece before about brunch, and I am still not the biggest fan of brunching (I just don't see why people want to pay $10+ for bacon/eggs/potatoes/french toast that you could make in your own kitchen at home?), but we all know that about 90% of social activities revolve around either food or drinks.  Since I don't really drink alcohol, I can't also turn down invitations to food-related activities without becoming a hermit, so yes, I occasionally go to brunch.
The other weekend, my upstairs neighbors T. and V., asked us if I wanted to go out to the city for a brunch date.  V. has had Feast on her places to try for a while, so we decided to eat there.  We made a reservation at the last minute (as in, Sunday morning at 11am) and managed to secure a table at 1:30pm for a party of 4.
The restaurant has a Pinterest "rustic chic" feel.  The decor includes large farmhouse style wooden tables with tall stools, metal flower boxes with "country" flower arrangements (the long stemmed whispery plants that look like you could pick them from a field), empty picture frames on the walls, mounted deer head, and of course, mason jars.
Brunch prix fixe is $29pp for a drink, shared bites, and a main dish. Overall, it was an above average meal, though I do think that the service could be improved.

The drinks offered include a mimosa, a bellini, a "beery mary", oj, or bottomless drip coffee.  The orange juice is served in a teeny tiny glass, less than 8oz, and you don't get refills, which I honestly thought was kind of a rip off.  How is bottomless coffee or an alcoholic drink equivalent to one small glass of OJ?  I wish the OJ had been bottomless.
Since it was hot out, we asked for iced coffee, which the waitress said could be an alternative to the drip coffee (which is hot).  Our iced coffees were served in mason jars that were about 60% ice. In the middle of our meal, when my friend and I asked for refills we were told that since the coffee is cold brew, refills are $5.  Excuse me?  That was not what I understood from the word "alternative."  We were a little upset that our waitress had failed to mention that before.  Also, if the coffee is cold brew, why are you serving it with so much ice?  It just seemed like they were really cutting corners to maximize their profits.

The shared bites are listed as a "bakery basket", yogurt parfait, juice shot, and canape. The bakery basket was smaller than I imagined it would be, especially since it wasn't at all a basket.  There were two tiny slices of a baked goods per person (changes daily). We got a sliver of a cinnamon bun and a tiny slice of carrot cake/bread.  The cinnamon bun was soft and sweet, but nothing special.  It actually tasted like something from a pre-made break-and-bake Pillsbury package.  The carrot cake was also moist and sweet, but again, it was nothing extraordinary.  The yogurt parfait was a shot glass of plain yogurt with granola and some diced pears; there was little flavor to the components so this was not particularly good.  The juice shot was cantaloupe and was refreshing.  The canape was bread with ricotta and truffle honey; it was the best part of the "bites."

For the main course, I tried the smoked salmon with red flannel hash and quail eggs.  This was good. The salmon was fresh, well seasoned, and went well with the hash. I also really like the quail eggs. The runny yolks were sweeter than regular egg yolks, and the combination of flavors was good. It was a lot to eat though, and I wasn't able to finish my dish.

N. (V's sister, who tagged along) tried the banana foster french toast. The french toast was light and eggy, and the bananas and chocolate are a classic combination that works well. She enjoyed this, although after eating about half of it, the overwhelming sweetness of the dish was too much for her, and she could eat no more. We all tried it and agreed that while the flavors were good, the plate would have benefited from a salty or savory touch.

T. and V. both ordered the fennel sausage eggs benedict. The sausage in this dish was *incredible*. We were all in love with it. I don't know what combination of spices were use, but we all called it "pho sausage" because it reminded us of the flavors of the Vietnamese beef soup (and two of us in the group are actually Vietnamese). The poached eggs were perfectly cooked with runny yolks and set whites. This was everyone's favorite dish, although we all agreed that after a while, the dish felt very heavy.  I think it would have benefited from a salad, or a touch of freshness or acidity.  The steamed spinach didn't do much to cut the fat and provided no textural element, which would have been appreciated.

As for the service, we felt a little harried during our meal.  Our waitress kept swooping in to take away plates, sometimes before we were done with our food. I felt like I had to constantly keep my guard up, because if it looked like I wasn't actively eating, she might step in and clear my plate. At one point, she picked up my "shared bites" plate and I had to beg her to wait a moment before she whisked it away so that I could grab my cinnamon bun.  This also meant that as members of our group finished eating, she would come and take away plates, even if other people were still working on their meal.   It was very intrusive and made us feel like we were being rushed to finish.  This didn't really make sense, since we didn't get our food until almost 2pm, and there were no people waiting for tables.  Furthermore, after we were done eating and the table had been cleared, our waitress disappeared and we could not find her for water refills or to get the check.  We ended up sitting at the table for about 30 minutes before we were able to pay the bill and leave.  Though we had enjoyed our food, the experience of our meal was a little marred by the service, which left something to be desired.

102 3rd Ave
New York, NY 10003
Tel. 212-529-8880
Brunch served Sat & Sun 11am-3pm

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