Greenpoint brunching

Sunday, April 13th, 2008 | All Things, Eats

Manhattan Avenue may be Greenpoint’s main thoroughfare, but parallel Franklin Street is a better indicator of the neighborhood’s rapid gentrification with its quaint collection of eateries, coffee shops, bars, boutiques, record store, and bookstore.

Brooklyn Label opened in January 2007 on the ground floor of the historic Astral Apartments on the corner of Franklin and Java — appropriate, given how seriously the place takes its coffee. The cafe was a Time Out Reader’s Choice nominee for the “Best Brunch” Eat Out Award in 2007, earning raves for chef Cody Utzman’s brunch menu, which includes dishes like the Chile Colorado (stewed pork chili verde with soft cheesy polenta, two poached eggs, roasted pepper and toast). Despite the accolades, Brooklyn Label’s first year seems to have been rather tumultuous: disgruntled reports of rising menu prices and management issues, culminating on February 1 with Chef Utman resigning his position as founder/head chef/owner, citing “un-reconcilable [sic] differences with Financial business partners.”

This was our first visit, though, so we can’t compare the pre- and post-Utman eras. (Brooklyn Label’s new head chef is Ed Bode, formerly of Williamsburg’s Union Picnic.) I do like the laid-back feel of this place, and I will say that the dramas don’t appear to have dampened the spot’s popularity: we waited over half an hour for a table at the not-exactly-prime hour of 3PM. By that time most places in my neighborhood are winding down Sunday brunch service, but it seems that hipsters run on a later schedule.

The Huevos Rancheros — one fried corn tortilla, Spanish-style rice, homemade frijoles negros, and a true chili ranchero sauce topped with two fried eggs and garnished with authentic Mexican crema, guacamole, pico de gallo and limes. I almost didn’t finish this entire platter. Almost. (Well, I had a little help.)

And although it seemed ridiculous to stop for more food after such a brunch, we were determined to scratch off another item from our Greenpoint [To] Hit List: the Franklin Corner Store, an unassuming corner deli which was highlighted by Robert Sietsema for serving his favorite Cuban sandwich in the city. I’d always been partial to the cubanos at Sucelt in the West Village, but since it closed last Christmas Eve after 31 years in business, I had yet to find a suitable replacement. This may be it. Be warned, though: the men here approach their sandwich-making like an art. There’s just no rushing the meticulous stacking of ham, pork roast, pickles and white cheeses. Even without pressing – we were saving our sandwiches for dinner later and thought it best to do the final toasting on our own – it was a twenty minute affair. But worth every minute.

Midtown Manhattan as viewed from Greenpoint’s Commercial Street:

May 2008 marks the 17th Annual Bike Month NYC. Just in time, the NYC Department of City Planning released a new New York City Cycling Map — particularly useful (not just to bikers) for its indication of one-way street directions. Cycling maps are available for download on the Department website, or in print free of charge at the NYC Department of City Planning Bookstore (22 Reade Street), in bicycle shops, libraries and schools, and through the NYC Call Center at 311. Over a million maps will have been printed and distributed since the first edition in 1997.

Tags: , , ,

There's 1 comment so far ... Greenpoint brunching

May 13, 2008


Go for it ...