F at East Broadway
Recessions have a way of making group meals awkward—your out-of-work friends can't handle a big bill, your happily employed friends don't want to slum. The solution: a dim sum brunch, where the food can be awe-inspiring, the prices comically modest, and no party is too large or too loud. At the cavernous Double Eight Palace, under the Manhattan Bridge, the cartloads of small plates just keep coming until you cry uncle, and everyone can eat their fill for $15 or so. Again, it's win-win all around: There's always something for the timid eater in the group (shu mai, spring rolls) and plenty more for the I'll-eat-anything types (salt-baked squid, steamed chicken feet). Save a little room for the steamed dumplings filled with pork and peanuts, a highly improbable combination that left us speechless with pleasure. Not that we were too stunned to grab another helping the next time the cart came around.